The Gnomes (1953). Miniatures for children for piano
This piano cycle composed by Serocki is still used in the education of the youngest pianists. It was dedicated to Maria Drzewiecka, who was the future composer’s first piano teacher. The story of the piece began in 1949, when Serocki compiled a list of his compositions for the Polish Composers’ Union. Among them he proudly listed a “children’s suite” for piano entitled Five Gnomes, which consisted of Polka, Lullaby, Mazurka, Waltz and March. Interestingly, Serocki, who at that time was very active as a concert pianist, included this children’s suite, alongside great works by Bach, Chopin, Beethoven or Ravel, in the programmes of recitals he gave in Poland and abroad.
It may have been his concert practice that inspired him to rework the cycle and expand it to seven parts: Krakowiak, Kujawiak, Mazurka, Song, Little Waltz, Lullaby and Oberek. He completed the cycle in 1953 and soon recorded it for the Polish Radio (the recording can be heard on the MIM website).
The various parts of the piano Gnomes are primarily stylizations of characteristic Polish dances, which are interspersed with easy, cheerful little pieces (Song, Little Waltz, Lullaby). The dances have metres, tempos and rhythms typical of their folk originals, and the entire cycle is based on a well thought-out dramatic design, characterized by expressive variability and strong finale – the lively Oberek.
Serocki’s Gnomes proved to be such an attractive teaching material that in 1975 the composer arranged the miniatures for various instrumental trios, including recorder trio and guitar trio.