Psychodrama for orchestra (1972)

Psychodrama /fragment/

Performers: Wielka Orkiestra Symfoniczna Polskiego Radia w Katowicach, Wojciech Michniewski – conductor, Katowice 1979, Polskie Nagrania


PWM Edition Edition Peters

This fairly short (ca 8’ 30’’) composition was commissioned by the Swedish association Norrköpings Orkesterförening to celebrate its 60th anniversary. Norrköping was the venue of the work’s premiere. 

The title points to self-therapeutic reasons influencing the composer, who at that time was in a difficult emotional state. His Psychodrama – like the group therapy method used to treat mental disorders – is a public, improvised display of getting personal experiences, conflicts and fantasies “out of oneself”. It was a way to release the stress of negative and unpleasant emotions. This idea determines the moving and dramatic nature as well as the shape of the piece. Like the therapeutic psychodrama used in medicine, it is in three successive stages: a dramatic-nervous “warm-up” (bars 1-65), a reflective presentation of the “emotional problem” (bars 66-102), an energetic, at the end noisy “discussion of the participants in the drama” (bars 103-139). The most important element of this “stage performance” is its third phase – a climax in which the problem is “discussed publicly”.

In terms of sound, it is one of the most aggressive and brutal compositions among all of Baird’s works. It is characterised by a masterful combination of lyrical parts and huge, even unpredictable dramatic tension. Its expressive sound allows us to define Psychodrama as a sonorist work.

We do not know the exact causes of Baird’s emotional state. Judging from what he wrote to Alina Sawicka after the premiere, we may assume that the therapeutic objective was achieved. The composer said calmly:

Psychodrama – well, it will do.


  • Tadeusz Baird’s postcard from 4 February 1972, Norrköping, addressed to: A. Sawicka, BUW AKP.