When Kazimierz Serocki was writing his Suite of Preludes for piano (1952), Polish music composed at the time was in the shadow of the oppressive aesthetics of socialist realism. Nevertheless the young composer decided to use in his piece a number of ideas that openly and bravely broke with that aesthetics.
First of all, this was the first evidence in Serocki’s oeuvre of the use of the twelve-note technique, understood, however, “not as a series but a sequence of tones” complemented with teachnical ideas inspired by “Bartók’s method of composing” (K. Serocki, Komponisten-Selbstportrait, unpublished manuscript, 1965, p. 4).
Sequences of twelve notes without repetitions occur in movement IV (Teneramente) and V (Veloce) of the Suite, but are not the essence of the work, which is a dazzling cycle of miniatures illustrating various technical and pianistic problems. We will find here persistent, motoric rhythmic passages (e.g. I – Animato and III – Agitato), which bring to mind Bartók; almost Chopin-style gestures (VII – Furioso), and – in Affetuoso (II) — evidence of Serocki’s jazz inspirations, as the movement’s harmony and rhythm vividly resemble this musical genre.
Interestingly, with this highly original piece Serocki managed to outwit the guardians of socialist realist correctness in music. In December 1952 Suite of Preludes, “rebellious” and devoid of any folk inspirations, won the first prize (in the “short stage works” category) in a competition organized in Poland to mark the Congress Of The Peoples For Peace in Vienna, and was soon published.