Kazimierz Serocki’s oeuvre contains only two symphonies, both written in his early years as a composer, a period associated with the work of Group 49 (founded by Serocki, Tadeusz Baird and Jan Krenz) as well as political determinants characteristic of the era. Symphony No. 1 was the composer’s first work to be praised by Polish music critics as a work close to the ideal – so desirable in the aesthetics of socialist realism – of balance between form and expression.
Ideologized interpretations of this music stressed its dramatic emotionality, honesty and openness of artistic expression devoid of “oblique statements and dark recesses” (Tadeusz Marek, “Grupa 49 (próba charakterystyki”), Muzyka 1953 no. 5–6, pp. 49–51), and the way in which thematic conflicts were shaped provided the critics with arguments to call the work a “symphony of struggle”.
Indeed, Symphony No. 1 is a work that is not without a tendency, characteristic of Serocki’s other pieces from the 1950s, to modernize the sound language (see e.g. Suite of Preludes). It is based on a classic structural pattern. The first movement (Maestoso) is a clash of two themes played, respectively, by the strings and the brass. The second movement (Scherzo) is an artistic stylization of the Polish danceoberek, captivating with its colour and rhythm extravaganza. The third movement (Espressivo) contains a lyrical folk theme played by the violins against an ostinato (staccato) accompaniment provided by the piano as well as the violas and cellos. In the finale (Appassionato) the main theme based on note repetitions and small rhythmic values is confronted with a fanfare-like secondary theme introduced by the French horns. The entire last movement resembles a cheerful march and provides a striking ending to Serocki’s first symphonic work, which is also his first composition published in print.
It was premiered during Group 49’s concert in Warsaw on 30 May 1952.