Passacaglia (2003) by Anna Ignatowicz

Players: 2

Instrumentation: Marimba (5.0 octave), vibes

Duration: 9 minutes

Program Note:

Passacaglia, written for and dedicated to the Polish Hob-Beats Duo, was premiered in 2003 as part of the International Kartarzyna Mycka Marimba Academy. Anna Ignatowicz wrote, “In compositional terms, Passacaglia took me pretty close to Bach, but stylistically it is for me neither a late Baroque nor a neo-Baroque work, i.e. there is no stylization. This piece is very important to me, as it closes a particular stage on my compositional pathway.”

Although the work does not strictly follow the form of a traditional passacaglia, a dramatic ostinato passes between both players for a majority of the piece. This ostinato could be Ignatowicz’s contemporary representation of the traditional bass-line ostinato found in passacaglias of the Baroque era. Characterized by sharp dotted rhythms, the ostinato begins in the vibraphone with the marimba playing different dotted rhythms which Ignatowicz denotes should sound “like delay.” It moves back and forth between both instruments throughout the work, and can be heard in the marimba during the final coda.

Polish composer Anna Ignatowicz completed her doctorate degree in composition in 1996 at the Frederic Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw. There she studied composition with Vladimir Kotonski, and piano and improvisation with Szabolcs Esztenyi. She also participated in summer programs which allowed her to collaborate with Louis Andriessen and Polish composer Hanna Kulenty. In 1994, Ignatowicz received the Critics Jury Prize for Young Composer’s Forum in Krakow for Loss of Memory for solo percussion and tape. Many of her marimba works, including Toccata (2001) and Passacaglia (2003) have been recorded by Polish marimbist Katarzyna Mycka. Currently, Ignatowicz serves as an Associate Professor of Composition at her alma mater, and as secretary of the Polish Composer’s Union. – Christine Augspurger