Cantata Song of Revolution (1951)
As it was the case with the Ballad of a Soldier’s Cup, this cantata, too, was written by Baird for personal reasons – in connection with the case of his father, Edward Baird. The fate of the Song of Revolution is not very well known. The Polish Composers’ Union has in its collection only a photocopy of its piano score, because both the original full score and the piano score were withdrawn and destroyed by the composer. From a surviving letter we do know that the composition was premiered in 1951.
The cantata was written for symphony orchestra and mixed choir; it has a three-part structure determined by the lyrics. The composer used in it only some fragments of Władysław Broniewski’s poem A Word about Stalin, giving them his own titles: Song of revolution (I. Allegro molto e furioso), Song of my land (II. Andante e molto, cantabile e molto calmato), We are building a People’s Republic (III. Largo [quasi in modo d’una marcia funebre]).
What is striking in the piece is its harmony, which uses fourth chords moved in a parallel manner. A highly chromatic sound material combined with such an arrangement makes the whole work tonally ambiguous (bitonal), without any clear point of reference. This is the dominant mode of work in purely instrumental fragments. On the other hand, fragments featuring the choir introduce simple musical material – with a clear harmony, overuse of parallel fifths, seeking a central chord.
As befits a socialist realist composition, the cantata is monumental in its sound and “proletarian” in the simple singing of the choir. As Baird himself marked in the score:
The singing should be very simple, without any affectation, as in the singing of an ordinary song.
In the musical setting of the third part the composer gave vent to his sarcasm – he illustrated the building of the country, using the rhythm of a funeral march and emphatic expressions: pesante and pomposo.
- T. Baird, Kantata Pieśń o rewolucji [Cantata Song of Revolution], piano score, manuscript (photocopy), PCU.