Tadeusz Baird began his post-war activity as a composer in 1949, when Polish music was dominated by neo-classicism. At that time he, too – a young composer immersed in the musical tradition – referred to distant epochs (Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque), used in his music classicist and romantic models, tried to create cheerful pieces with folk overtones, and tried panegyrical pieces. His neo-classical works were characterised primarily by stylisation as well as a new way of treating harmony, colour and texture. For the first six years (until 1955), Baird was preoccupied solely by the neo-classical style, though he also used it in three works written later (in 1956, 1963 and 1969). The collection of all his neo-classical works encompasses 26 items, including
- 9 orchestral works (Concerto grosso, Sinfonietta, Overture in the Old Style, Symphony No. 1, Colas Breugnon, Concerto for piano and orchestra, Symphony No. 2, Giocosa Overture, Concerto for orchestra);
- 4 vocal-instrumental works for bigger ensembles (the cantata Song of Revolution, Lyric Suite, The Ballad of a Soldier’s Cup, Four Love Sonnets);
- 5 works for voice with instrumental accompaniment (Three Old Italian Songs, Two Love Songs, At a Warsaw Rally, Five Songs for Children, Songs of the Trouvères);
- 2 works for mixed choir a cappella (Two Songs, Brook waters are running);
- 2 chamber pieces (Two Caprices, Four Preludes);
- 4 piano pieces (Sonatina, Sonatina No. 2, Little Children’s Suite, Prelude).
The most representative of Baird’s neo-classical style are his orchestral works – Sinfonietta, Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2, Colas Breugnon and Concerto for Orchestra. In addition, we can see in these works how Baird’s compositional talent developed. All his neo-classical achievements were valuable experiences for him, not only artistically but also as life experiences. We should bear in mind that the reason behind the writing of three panegyrical pieces (Song of Revolution, The Ballad of a Soldier’s Cup, At a Warsaw Rally) was the case of the composer’s father, imprisoned for political reasons. Archaising works were for him either compositional exercises (Concerto grosso, Overture in the Old Style, Giocosa Overture) or pleasant and easy tasks (Old Italian Songs, Songs of the Trouvères, Four Love Sonnets). In that period Baird also wrote all his piano works, including his Concerto for piano and orchestra. Years later the composer summed up the period of his neo-classical experiments in the following reflection:
After my debut with the Sinfonietta I wrote the Piano Concerto (I’m ashamed of it now) and today (rightly) forgotten Lyric Suite to words by Tuwim, Colas Breugnon, which is still performed […] as well as two symphonies […]. Finally, in 1953 I composed the Concerto for Orchestra, in which I tried, more or less successfully, to show everything I had learned. And I felt I couldn’t continue writing like this. I knew I had to do things differently, but I didn’t know how.
- T. Baird, I. Grzenkowicz, Rozmowy, szkice, refleksje [Conversations, Sketches, Reflections], Kraków 1998, p. 29.