Polish composer's Ode to Oman
Many years ago, when he was still a student of a music academy in Munich, Jan Pogány watched a film on television about Oman. “I knew hardly anything about this country then.
I was very impressed with the film, which narrated the story of the life of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, his achievements and his great patriotism and love of his country. That’s how my interest in Oman began,” says the award-winning Polish composer and conductor.
Since then, Pogány has been reading a lot about the sultanate, its people and its traditions.
Although he’s never lived in Oman, he admits to having a special fondness for the country. “I’ve become familiar with its traditional music and I’ve watched films showing the beauty of the towns and the attractive landscapes.”
As his tribute to the country, Pogány composed a violin and orchestra piece named Oman’s Serenade, which premiered in May 2014 at the Aula Leopoldina of Wroclaw University during the International Brahms Festival. It’s one of the most charming concert venues in Europe, where some of the greatest musicians like Franz Liszt, Niccolo Paganini and Edvard Grieg have performed.
The first performance of Oman’s Serenade aroused great interest in the audience, says Pogány. “They gave us a big ovation and we played encore both parts.” Mateusz Marut, a violinist awarded at many international competitions was the soloist and Pogány, the conductor.
A big success, the concert was later performed several times not only in Poland, but also in Germany, at Munich’s Philharmonic Concert Hall and in Japan, drawing great reception everywhere.
“Oman is a country of dazzling, romantic landscapes which awaken great emotions. These sights change rapidly in the light of the setting sun and I wanted to retain them in my music. Oman’s Serenade is my tribute to the country and an attempt at expressing my respect for it.”
To reinforce his appreciation, Pogány has inserted some portions from Oman’s National Anthem in the first part and in the cadence of his musical piece.
It lasts about 30 minutes and consists of five sections: Intermezzo and the anthem; moderato; lullaby; introduction and waltz; adagio, allegro leggiero and cadence.
Written in about seven months, the piece was “created in stages, which was like building a house”.
Pogány is fascinated by the sultanate, its places, people and their way of thinking. “I am particularly grateful to Oman for making me believe that there are people who are modest, honest, humble and sensitive; that one can still find some true honesty in the world. People from Oman I’ve happened to meet are full of respect for others, their cultures and religion.”
He says he loves the country’s historic architecture and is very fond of its traditional food. “Also, I’m really impressed by the order within the city. No capital in the world seems to have such clean streets as Muscat.”
Pogány’s adventure with music started with playing the cello. As a child, he wanted to become a musician. His parents sent him to music school despite their financial burden - his father was blind and unable to work.
Pogány still keeps in touch with his first music teacher and is grateful to her for accepting him as her student.
Pogány started work as a cellist in the Wroclaw Opera. Along the way, German television SAT 1 approached him to write music for some episodes of a popular TV series. This was followed by a commission from Norwegian television.
Pogány’s compositions have won him awards at several international competitions. He won the second place at the International Composition Contest in Torrevieja, Spain, for a symphonic piece. He received a bronze medal at the International Composition Contest in Luxembourg for a piece called Fantasy for violin and orchestra.
He has also played the cello as a soloist at the Munich Concert Hall in a concert for Prince Charles of Wales.
As a conductor, he started a long-term cooperation with the theatre in Ulm, Germany, and with the Korean Chamber Orchestra from Seoul, besides orchestras from Japan, Germany, Greece and Poland.
He is the music director of Camerata-Wroclaw Chamber Orchestra and the German string orchestra, Amati Ensemble Munich.