Five Preludes for Clarinet and Piano (also known as Five Pieces for Clarinet and Piano) was my first composition written under the guidance of professor Boleslaw Woytowicz while I was a first year student at the Music Academy. At our first meeting, the esteemed professor asked that I write a piece for clarinet solo in three voices, a composition for a brass choir, as well as a composition for nine clarinets.
In addition he asked me to think about a scenario for a Music Theatre composition. A week later, when I arrived with the work done, he admitted that it was his way of putting me to a test. He somewhat eased off the next assignment, by asking me to write only four more pieces for clarinet and piano, which were to complement and complete the cycle of five.
Again, a week later I completed the task, but this time I was not fully satisfied with one of them. Consequently, I wrote another one – the sixth piece. Actually, they were always performed as a group of five, but each time with a different five.
Furthermore, someone made an error in the programme and called them Five Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, and the cycle was known under one of the two titles from then on.
The opening piece is for Clarinet solo and it uses three registers as separate layers of sound which attain an individual development, impressing upon the listener the notion of three separate voices. The second piece starts with a short piano cadenza, following which the two instruments play as equal partners.
The third piece is a scherzo in which the two instruments seem to chase one another in two different meters. It is light and humorous. Number four is an interlude with very little activity and very soft dynamic level. Number five brings the whole cycle to a conclusive end.
The composition was premiered in Poland in 1967 and in Canada in 1973. It was later included in the repertoire of a colleague and a friend of mine, Robert Risling, and performed by him in concerts on three continents.
The Five Preludes seem to have endured the test of time, still being performed in concerts in Canada and elsewhere nearly half a century later.