Baird’s individual style was based on a conviction that there was expression in each musical work. Moreover, it is the main reason behind the composition and impact of each work. This expressive mark of Baird’s music lies in its autobiographical nature, a fact which the artist mentioned many times and which he confirmed shortly before his passing:
For me, music was, is and, I would like to believe, will still be a way to express emotions, feelings and thrills [...] my successive pieces [...] constitute a kind of notebook, my autobiography in sound. [...] the extreme subjectivity of my compositions probably results in my reluctance to be present during performances of my works. [...] in a way, what I do here is what I call a “spiritual strip-tease” [...].
Baird’s expression encoded in sounds consisted in showing in music the artist’s very intense personal experiences and in triggering them in the listeners. These emotions were semi-openly given in vocal works and deeply hidden in purely instrumental pieces. An interesting example of deep encoding of autobiographical elements provoking strong emotions in the listeners can be found in the Variations in Rondo Form [third string quartet], the initial title of which was Self-Portrait. This sonic soliloquy was mentioned by the composer himself; otherwise, we would not have been able to find out the real message of the piece. The work was a reaction to strong emotions associated with his trip to Germany (1978), a journey deep down the memory lane, towards Baird’s traumatic wartime experiences. Towards the end of his life he recalled it in the following manner:
I understood I had come to think about what had happened to me, to measure the distance between me today and me from all those years ago, to evaluate the road travelled. It was an examination of conscience, which is always difficult when it’s honest.
Tadeusz Baird was an extremely emotional composer and in this sense his entire oeuvre is expressive. He said, for example:
Music [...], as any other kind of human expression – speech, gesture, literature, visual arts – is always an attempt to express thoughts, mental states, emotions and to record them by means of a system of musical signs in a language of sounds that is characteristic only of music.
The nature of Baird’s creative process predestined him to be called an expressionist artist (in Schönberg’s understanding of the term), who, when composing, followed above all the inner logic of feeling, less so the logic of the material. It was the artist’s inner emotions that determined the choice of compositional means in the creation of a work. These feelings were vivid and strong. Baird found a model of expressive composition process – in which all technical operations were to serve the expressive side of the work – in Alban Berg’s oeuvre (in his Wozzeck and Lyric Suite). An important feature of Baird’s expression was its metaphysical dimension – opening to supra-individual matters, to transmitting the universal truth about human existence. This subject is undoubtedly tackled by several of his works, including: Exhortation, Goethe Briefe, Voices from Afar, Tomorrow. In addition, his only stage work has some features of expressionist drama (cf. Analysis of works – Tomorrow).
- T. Baird, I. Grzenkowicz, Rozmowy, szkice, refleksje [Conversations, Sketches, Reflections], Kraków 1998, pp. 63 and 84.
- T. Baird, "Sztuka utrwalająca życie" ["Art recording life"], ed. K. Tarnawska-Kaczorowska, Polska 1979, no. 4, p. 6.