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.
This is the third of three elegies written by Sawa in 1995. Marked “funebre,” is a slow processional, a funeral cortège of sorts. The entire elegy is built very simply and sparely from Sawa’s most characteristic harmonic device: contrast between chords with open fifths and chords with the tritone substituted for the fifth.
Published by the Marian Sawa Society