Warsaw Autumn - International Festival of Contemporary Music is a festival with a great tradition.
It is the only festival in Poland of international rank and scale devoted to contemporary music, for many years the only one of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe. The Warsaw Autumn began in 1956 on the wave of thaw after years of Stalinist dictatorship and existed uninterruptedly for the duration of communism, having been provided by the state (until now it has been maintained mainly by public funds).
Paradoxically, the times of communist rule were a period of special splendour of the Warsaw Autumn. It was then an obvious breakthrough in the Iron Curtain, it was an island of creative freedom. Socialist realism was not in force here: all sorts of artistic extravagances were possible. They gave a sense of freedom of speech in general, they were perceived as a kind of political contestation.
Attendance was 120 per cent, the Warsaw Autumn was well known in the press, several hundred guests came from abroad - those from the East and those from the West. The authorities tolerated this situation in order to gain the opinion of a liberal patron. Anyway, an important argument for her in favour of the Festival was the opportunity to demonstrate the superiority of socialist music over the bourgeoisie, capitalist countries. Of course, there was censorship and there was a constant threat of withdrawal of permission to organize the Festival.
Almost from the very beginning the modernist profile of the Festival has been established; music of a conservative character is a definite margin in its programmes. It has an "Autumn" open formula, trying to present the multitude of phenomena and trends typical for the music of our times.
Each edition has its main theme and the theme of this year's Festival, which will run from 18 to 26 September 2020, is "Music and Language".
The program of this year’s Warsaw Autumn includes performances, concerts, sound theatre, various opera formulas, intermedia, improvisations, internet and radio, meetings, composer workshops – over 50 festival events. We will listen to music by 50 composers, including 22 making their Warsaw Autumn debut, with 18 world premieres, including Warsaw Autumn commissions. Five orchestras, the choir, ten ensembles, and soloists will perform in the main Festival lineup as well as in cycles: Warsaw Autumn Hits the Club, Little Warsaw Autumn, Warsaw Autumn Contexts.