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Composed: 2008 Duration: 5 mins.
Instrumentation: Concert Band Repertoire
ISMN: 979-0-720083-90-2 Catalogue: RM584
Level: grade 4 Country: Australia
Thaddeus Kosciuszko was an outstanding military commander and strategist who fought for freedom not only in his native Poland against the Russians in the late 18th Century, but also in his adopted America during the War of Independence. To this day he is considered a Polish national hero and the fondness for which he is held in the United States is evident in Mississippi’s city and Indiana’s county that share his name. In 1840 Paul Strezlecki, the Polish-born explorer who first climbed the Australia Alps named its highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko.
This composition reflects three aspects of the life of Kosciuszko. After some plaintive themes reminiscent of Polish folk tunes, the first section represents Kosciuszko’s battle for freedom in his native homeland against the Russians and Prussians. The music reflects the chaos of war and the clash of tonality helps to represent the mayhem of battle. Kosciuszko led his troops to numerous victories during this campaign and there are moments in the score where uplifting major tonalities represent the joy of victory. Unfortunately for Kosciuszko he was seriously wounded towards the end of the war and was held prisoner by the Russians. His release was conditional on him not returning to his homeland, Poland. The solemn and mournful solo off-stage trumpet call at the end of the first section reflects both the tragedy of war and the circumstances faced by Kosciuszko at the end of this campaign.
The second section of the work represents Kosciuszko’s American experience. The music is open, free and hopeful, representing the ‘New World’. Kosciuszko served with distinction in Washington’s army and was instrumental in the success of many battles including the blockade of Charleston and the victory at Saratoga. As he was in Poland, Kosciuszko was a tireless defender of freedom in America and he used his military knowledge and skills to fight oppression.
The final section of the work is a ‘climb to the summit’ making direct reference to the journey undertaken by thousands of tourists each year when they endeavour to climb Australia’s highest peak. The music gradually intensifies as the journey nears its end and there is an explosion of joy and exhilaration as the summit is reached. While this section refers directly to Australia’s Mount Kosciuszko, the themes of struggle, striving and toil could easily represent the life of Thaddeus Kosciuszko and his endless dedication to the fight for human liberty and freedom.