A prolific composer, Koprowski is principally known for his orchestral works, the first of which, In Memoriam Karol Szymanowski (1963, revised 1977), is still performed. He has worked with such ensembles as the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet, the Olso Philharmonic (which premiered his flute concerto in 1983), the Polish Chamber Orchestra and the National Arts Centre Orchestra, as well as with individuals such as Pinchas Zukerman and Trevor Pinnock. During his residency at the COC Koprowski wrote the one-act opera Dulcitius, which was premiered by the company in May 1989 and broadcast on CBC Radio 21 Oct 1989. His later works include Letters for mezzo-soprano, violin, clarinet, and piano, premiered in 1994 by mezzo Laura Pudwell (some sections were reprised in 1996 without voice); a viola concerto written for Rivka Golani in 1995; a trumpet concerto for Eric Schulz and the Sinfonia Mississauga in 1998; and Millennium Cantata, performed by the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra and the Ottawa Choral Society in 2001. Behind the Iron Curtain, a symphonic reflection on Koprowski's past, was premiered 29 Jan 2005 by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra under Andrey Boreyko. Koprowski's work Elegia, for soprano and string orchestra, on the poem Eulogy for a Polish Boy by Krzysztof Kamil Baczynski, was premiered 10 Nov 2005 by the University of Ottawa Symphony Orchestra.
Koprowski has won the Jules Léger Prize twice, in 1989 for Sonnet for Laura and again in 1994 for his Woodwind Quintet. He was given the Canada Council's Victor M. Lynch-Staunton Award in 1989. In 1997 he received the Jean A. Chalmers National Music Award for his Viola Concerto and other works. The Viola Concerto, recorded by Golani, was also nominated for a Juno in 2002.
Though his early influences, Scriabin and Szymanowski, inform much of his music to the present, Koprowski has experimented in many post-war musical languages. He did not subscribe to any one way of writing, though; in his own words, his musical aesthetic "is in the tradition of composers who have been concerned with a 'summing up.' I am less interested in contributing to the development of the language than I am in contributing to how the language is used" (Accordion USA website). Indeed, his music has been variously described as post-modern and neo-Romantic, its harmonies often evoking comparisons to Nielsen, Sibelius, and Mahler. The accordion concerto he wrote for Joseph Petric and the Toronto Symphony in 1993 has been described as "the first post-modern intertextual accordion concerto in the repertoire" (Midtown Media website). Koprowski is inspired by many subjects ranging from the mystical to the absurd, but his recurring impetus, both conceptually and practically, is his family; he reportedly wrote his Symphony of Nordic Tales (1995) with his teenage daughter as the intended audience (Words & Music, May 1998).
Koprowski has taught theory and composition 1971-3 at the University of Toronto, 1973-4 at McGill University, and thereafter at the University of Western Ontario, where he became co-ordinator of new music at campus concerts and conductor of the New Music Ensemble. He is a member of the Canadian League of Composers and an associate of the Canadian Music Centre.
In Memoriam Karol Szymanowski. 1966. Orch. Ms
String Quartet. 1967. Ms
String Trio. 1967. Vn, viola, violoncello. Ms
Symphony No. 1. 1969. Ms
Lullabies for an Angel. 1979. Sop, alto fl, piano. Ms
Epitaph. 1980. Str quartet, string orch. Ms
Flute Concerto. 1982. Ms
Souvenirs de Pologne. 1983. Pf, orch. Ms
Moment Musical. 1984. Orch. Ms
Rachel - Games and Daydreams of a Child. 1986. Orch. Ms
Sinfonia da Camera. 1987. Chamb orch. Ms
Vignettes. 1987. Pf quint. Ms
Capriccio. 1988. Ms
Songs for Christmas. 1988. Children's chorus. Ms
Songs of David. 1988. Mezzo, SATB, (optional fl, horn). Ms
Sonnet for Laura. 1988. Fl, piano. Ms
Three Poems on a Winter Day. 1988. Mezzo, orch (fl and piano). Ms
Intermezzo 1989. Orch. Ms
Dulcitius, chamber opera (R. Anderson, after Hrotsvitha). 1989. Ms
3 Madrigals (C. Sivier). 1989. SATB. Ms
Rhapsody on a Theme of Brahms. 1990. Pf. Ms
Songs of Forever. 1991. Mezzo, orch. Ms
Pygmalion and Galatea. 1991. Fl, bassoon, piano. Ms
Woodwind Quintet. 1991. Fl, oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon
Sinfonia Concertante. 1992. Orchestra
Dream People. 1993. Narrator, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion
Sinfonia Mystica. 1993. Orchestra
Concerto for Accordion and Orchestra. 1993
Intermezzo. 1994. String orchestra
Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra. 1994
Letters. 1994. Mezzo-soprano, violin, clarinet, piano
Concerto for Viola and Orchestra. 1995
Symphony of Nordic Tales. 1995. Orchestra
Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra. 1996
Ancestral Voices. 1996. Orchestra
Saga. 1996. Orchestra
Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra. 1996
Concerto for Cello and Orchestra. 1998
Fable Mystique de Rachel. 2000. Orchestra
Author Nancy McGregor, Evan Ware
'Karen Kieser talks with Peter Paul Koprowski,' Musicanada, 33, Oct 1977
Schulman, Michael. 'The composer as perfectionist: continual revision and polishing,' Canadian Composer, 152, Jun 1980
Macmillan, Keith and Beckwith, John, eds. Contemporary Canadian Composers (Toronto 1975)
Gessell, Paul. "When music never sleeps," Ottawa Citizen, 5 Oct 1997
Poole, Elissa. "Ahead by a century," Words & Music, May 1998
Links to Other Sites
Canadian Music Centre
Search the extensive CMC website for Canadian composer biographies and interviews, music scores, online newsletters, audio clips, podcasts, and more. Check out "CentreStreams" to listen to online archived recordings featuring outstanding Canadian composers.
Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Awards
Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Awards Cumulative list of Winners. From the Canada Council for the Arts.
Biographical information about Polish classical composer Karol Szymanowski from the USC Polish Music Center.
Hyperion: Karol Szymanowski
Listen to audio clips featuring the music of Karol Szymanowski. From Hyperion Records.
3 Canadian composers win $75K NAC awards
A CBC news story about NAC awards bestowed upon 3 Canadian composers.
An extensive collection of audio clips from recordings featuring the National Arts Centre Orchestra performing works by noteworthy Canadian and international composers. Click on a composer's name on the right side menu to access specific works. See also composer biographies and the interactive timeline of historical milestones in classical music. From artsalive.ca and the Virtual Museum of Canada.