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5 tips and tricks for composers


As you know, the entries in the Composition category of the Szymanowski Competition are already being accepted and we'll keep collecting them until 30th September. We are excited to see the works submitted by each and every single one of you, and for those who feel a little dubious or are struggling with composer’s block, we’ve prepared a few tips and tricks that might help you create the masterpiece of your life. Feel free to take notes and share the article with your friends!

  1. Less is more

Young composers often try to use everything they have learnt and put all the coolest effects they have heard in one piece they’re writing. The result can be too much. Try to pick only one technical aspect and one inspiration from one piece of music at a time. Then, move on to another composition and choose another set of techniques you will focus on. Trust us, less really is more. You’d rather master one technique at once than blend them all into one work.

  1. Listen to what you hate

Yes, all musicians listen to music all day long. After all, there are more sounds, artists, musical pieces, and songs that keep us inspired than we can count. But don’t underestimate works that stand opposite to your taste, and listen more. Explore the music genres that you really don’t like. Analyse what it is that makes you dislike them and what would make them better. Then, all you need to do is to turn something you hate into something you will love. Combining this and the previous point will help you define your own unique style. 

3. A little bit of stealing never hurt nobody

They say that a good composer borrows, while a great composer steals. This is as true as off it sounds. That’s how great artists used to learn their craft ages ago, and how it still works. Choose a few works that you admire, analyse them deeply and critically, and think of what makes them so good, and what you would change. Write down every thought that occurs to you, and then, basing on these notes… Try to write your own work!

  1. Every day is a good day to compose

Practice takes time, so why don’t you compose a small piece every day? Look for inspiration in everything you hear, or try to create a little background melody to a scene you saw while walking with your dog… Inspiration can be found anywhere. Every day is a good day to try out a new technique… So, give everything a try and keep composing. Do we have any plan freaks or daily routine fans? Great, because planning a few things here or there might be helpful! You might want to:

  • Choose a time in the day when you compose those little works, it might be morning or night, whenever you feel most creative and nothing will bother you. Even 15 minutes will do!
  • Choose the parameters and techniques you will focus on.
  • Create.
  • Give your work a few days to rest.
  • Come back and see if you still like it. If you don’t, improve it. Perhaps writing down all the changes you’re making will help you avoid a few mistakes or bad ideas in the future.
  • Repeat the above, and keep composing and honing your skills!

Perhaps you have someone who could take a look at some of your works, or even play them, and share their insight with you?

  1. Join a community

Speaking of showing your works to others… Joining a community dedicated to music composers is a brilliant way to exchange ideas, critical opinions, support, and then… improve. After all, who will understand you better than a fellow composer? There are numerous groups on the Internet and social media to choose from. Don’t be shy, go for it!

  1. Bonus tip!

Do you know what another great idea is? Yes, you’ve guessed! Taking part in the Szymanowski Competition! We invited true masters of the music arena and the most brilliant composers to join our Qualifying Committee and Jury! Wouldn’t it be great to show them your work? Take your chance!

The winning works will be released on CDs and included in the repertoire for the further Competition categories. Besides the cash prize, obviously 😉

Composition Category ends on 30th September!

NOSPR, the main organizer of the Competition, is currently at the Japan tournèe! The event was inaugurated by a press conference, during which the Szymanowski Competition received tremendous attention! We are really happy about the success of the Competition in such distant corners of the globe. The event was highlighted by the performance of a Japanese superstar - Hayato Sumino Cateen, and a chamber concert of the extraordinary NOSPR musicians. The Competition gained a lot of interest from our Japanese friends, which makes us extremely happy and proud.

Meanwhile, we root for NOSPR during the tournèe. Follow their photo-reports on NOSPR’s social media.

Don’t forget the first Competition Category - Composition is coming to an end. You can submit your work only until the 30th of September!

Fot. Maciej Komorowski

We are expanding the jury of the Composition category of the 2nd edition of the Szymanowski Competition!

An Estonian composer has joined the jury. Drawing inspiration from Gregorian chant, oriental melodies, spectral music, and the avant-garde experiments of IRCAM, she creates compositions that perfectly reflect the cultural richness of her country of origin.

Currently, she is a professor of composition at the Estonian Academy of Music and art director of the Estonian Music Days. The artist has been honoured with the Estonian Order of the White Star and French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

One and only - Helena Tulve! You will find more information on the composer on the Competition page / Composition / Jury.

We have been waiting for this day for a very long time, and we are truly excited to share this news with you - we are opening entries for the Composition category!

The 2nd edition of the Szymanowski Competition is the opportunity for the most talented young musicians to gain fame and attractive awards. The total cash prize sum is 300,000! Entries for the Composition category close on 30th September and the results will be revealed in the month of the 140th anniversary of Karol Szymanowski’s birthday.  In November, we open entries for the performers in the following categories: Piano, Violin, String Quartet, and Voice. The winning piece in the composition category will become a part of the repertoire for the performers. But first, let us remind you the age limits. Artists born in the following years may participate in the 2nd part of the Competition:

Piano, Violin, String Quartet: 1991 - 2006


ladies: 1991 - 2003

gentlemen: 1988 - 2003

Final auditions will be held in the Concert Hall of the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice. It was designed by an extraordinary specialist in the domain of acoustics, Yasuhisa Toyota from Nagata Acoustics. Certainly, the experience of performing in such a place will remain unforgettable for long years - after all, it was for a reason that the NPRSO seat was included in the prestigious European Concert Hall Organization ECHO - an association that unites the finest music centres in Europe.

Composers, you can apply here:https://szymanowski-competition.appassimo.com/

Good luck!

This is the second time the PWM Edition has become a strategic partner of the Karol Szymanowski International Music Competition. The publishing house will ensure state-of-the-art editing for the pieces awarded in the composition competition and provide official sheet music for the performance categories of the Competition.

For composers, having their pieces published by the PWM is not only a sign of recognition, but also a way of reaching musicians worldwide. In October, the scores awarded by the composition competition jury will be passed on to the PWM editors, who will prepare special editions for the works to become part of the performance disciplines of the Competition.

For musicians, high-quality sheet music is not only a source of knowledge, but it also commonly becomes an invaluable partner in stage performances. The PWM catalogue offers Karol Szymanowski’s compositions, as well as books and other materials, which are going to facilitate preparations for the Competition even further.

The cooperation between the PWM and the Karol Szymanowski Music Competition began as early as during the first edition of the Competition in 2018. This time, the PWM’s participation encompasses even more areas and ensures additional benefits for the participants.

It is as soon as in 100 days that scores will be accepted in the Composition discipline of the Karol Szymanowski International Music Competition. The second edition of the competition is bound to open up even more opportunities for its participants. In addition to high financial prizes, the laureates are given a chance to lend special momentum to their career. We await your entries from 1st July to 30th September!

The Szymanowski Competition is a unique opportunity for young artists from all over the world. It is a chance for young composers to present their work to a jury composed of leading figures of the world of music, compete for prize money totalling nearly €30,000 and make their mark on the international scene. Winning compositions will be included in the programme of the performance competition the following year, recorded and published by the PWM Edition. 

The works will be assessed in two stages – at the first stage, the scores will be evaluated by a qualifying committee made up of composers and performers, including experts in contemporary performing techniques. They are going to select the pieces to be assessed by the main jury.

Composers from everywhere around the world can apply, providing they are below 40 years of age. We await pieces in one of the four disciplines: piano, violin (solo or with piano), voice (solo or with piano), and string quartet. Every participant may submit more than one composition, thus increasing their chance of winning. Pieces for voice may use text in any language of the composer’s choice.

Entries for the composition competition are accepted from 1st July until 30th September 2022 through the online application form to be made available on our website.

14th November 2021 saw the 11th ceremony of the Koryfeusze Muzyki Polskiej [Coryphées of Polish Music] awards. They are the music industry’s awards, coordinated by the National Institute of Music and Dance. This year, Danuta Gwizdalanka, a musicologist and a writer publishing on music, was awarded for her book Uwodziciel. Rzecz o Karolu Szymanowskim [The Seducer. On Karol Szymanowski] published by PWM Edition. She won the „Event of the year” award for „an intriguing and in-depth monograph on Karol Szymanowski, analysing the composer’s personality; for inspiring interest in the portrait of not only an outstanding artist, but also that of a human”. The book has already become a bestseller.

We offer our sincere congratulations to the Author!

Ewa Tracz, laureate of the 1st prize in the 1st Karol Szymanowski International Music Competition, will perform at the inauguration of the new season at NOSPR.

The 2021/2022 season at the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice will begin with one of the most important works in the whole symphonic repertoire – Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in d minor op. 125. In addition to the orchestra, the Choir of the National Forum of Music, and the Polish National Youth Choir, the audience will enjoy performances from the exquisite soloists: Ewa Tracz, Karolina Sikora, Andrzej Lampert and Szymon Komasa. All will be conducted by NOSPR’s artistic director, Lawrence Foster.

Ewa Tracz is laureate of the 1st prize in the 1st Karol Szymanowski International Music Competition in Katowice. She was also awarded the special prize for the best performance of a piece by Karol Szymanowski.

She graduated from the Accademia Teatro alla Scala in Milan and the PhD programme at the K. Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice having studied solo voice with prof. AM dr hab. Ewa Biegas.

You can learn more about the event here

On Wednesday, 8th September, at 11 o’clock, a ceremonial session of the Katowice City Council took place at the seat of NOSPR to award Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa, a composer and long-term director of NOSPR (2000-2018), Honorary Citizenship.

It would be difficult to overestimate Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa’s contribution to the cultural development of Katowice, most completely summarised with her own words at the opening of NOSPR’s new concert hall in 2014:

– While Katowice was a most important industrial centre for 150 years, now it will be an important cultural centre on the map of Poland and – thanks to NOSPR – Europe for another 150 years. History of music shows it is every 150 years that eras and styles tend to change.

While managing NOSPR, Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa led the work which resulted in the establishment of the Karol Szymanowski International Music Competition.

We would like to convey our heartfelt congratulations on such an extraordinary honour!

The Noviki artistic duo, consisting of Katarzyna Nestorowicz and Marcina Nowicki, has delivered visual identity for the 2nd edition of the Karol Szymanowski International Music Competition.

Direct inspiration for the various geometrical forms present in all the elements of the Competition’s visual identity came from Franciszka Themerson and Stefan Themerson’s 1945 film „The Eye and the Ear”. It i san experimental work, in which the artists wanted to translate Karol Szymanowski’s music into visual arts. The point of departure were the Słopiewnie with Julian Tuwim’s words, with a different catalogue of animated shapes, waves and patterns assigned to each song. 

Drawing from the Themersons’ experimental graphical concepts, Noviki saturated black and white images with a rich palette of colours and textures, along with photos and video recordings of the Competition’s first edition. Thus, their designs combine experiences of the Competition with uncompromising artistic searching characteristic for Karol Szymanowski himself, simultaneously showing his influence on those working in dfferent areas of art.

The Warsaw-based Noviki duo is known for experimenting with technologies and new media, as well as for attempts at broadening the scope of graphic design, e.g. with interactive applications and videoposters. Some of the exhibitions showing their works were ones at the Bunkier Sztuki gallery in Cracow, at the 28th International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno, at the Warsaw Museum of Modern Art, and at the Flumadiddle Graphic Design Festival Glasgow.

More information obout the Noviki duo’s art can be found here

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