Marian Sawa (1937–2005) — Fantazja Święty Boże (2003) for organ
Marian Sawa (1937–2005) was a Polish composer, organist, and teacher. As a famed specialist in organ improvisation, he taught the subject for many years at several conservatories, most notably the F. Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw. He was a frequent member of organ competition juries throughout the world, and won numerous prizes himself for his compositions and recordings. With nearly 1000 pieces in many genres, Sawa was an extremely prolific composer, and his own instrument, the organ, looms very large in his output. Besides hundreds of solo organ pieces, there are many works for organ with instruments and voices, and five organ concerti. Like many composers in Eastern European countries, religious inspiration was behind much of his music. Sawa’s personal style draws upon the influence of Gregorian chant and Polish folk hymns and songs (even when they are not quoted directly), alongside both traditional and contemporary harmony.
Sawa wrote a number of organ fantasies based on a variety of tunes from many countries—ranging from Polish church hymns to American patriotic songs. These works are rhapsodic in nature, usually exploring the full resources of the organ in a dramatic manner. The source melodies are treated in a variety of fashions, and often harmonized in Sawa’s favorite manner: with chords containing stacks of fourths, fifths, and diminished fifths. “Fantazja Święty Boże” (2003) is based on a very familiar 18th century Polish church hymn (“Holy God”). The most famous organ work on this tune was by the Polish romantic composer Mieczyslaw Surzynski, a piece which Sawa knew very well.