Philip CZAPŁOWSKI bio / orchestral chamber music solo / gallery media contact


2018 | solo bass clarinet | 5 minutes

requiem for solo bass clarinet was composed in March 2018, in memory of the great Dutch Bass Clarinettist, Harry Sparnaay.

I first met Harry Sparnaay when he was artist in residence at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne in 1987. I met him twice more after that when he visited Australia, and wrote a number of bass clarinet works for him.

I wrote this short piece to honour him, a wonderful musician--and also a beautiful, generous human being.


2003/revised 2017 | solo clarinet | 5 minutes

Totenlied for solo clarinet was composed during April and May 2003 as part of the composer's contribution to the collaborative piece Conversations (see below). In November 2017 a revised version of the score was prepared for the brilliant Italian clarinettist Sauro Berti, who gave the world premiere performance at the 7th European Clarinet Festival, on the 18th December 2017 in Porto, Portugal, followed soon after by a performance at the Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall, New York on 9th February 2018.

Because much of the creation of Conversations was concerned with the technical aspects of music composition, I felt that in order to make a genuine contribution to the work, I should compose something that was concerned primarily with expression. Academic composers, of which I am proudly not one, can become so mired in the concept and technique of what they do, that they forget that music is for someone to listen to! The title of this solo pays homage to the music of Gustav Mahler, whose influence can be felt in the work's opening and closing passages.

In its original form (as part of Conversations) the solo was a collaborative effort with composer Steve Adam, whose computer enhancement and modulation of the clarinet line greatly enhanced the expressive qualties of the music (not to mention the beautiful playing of Karen Heath); however, it became clear that the music would also work well as a "stand alone" clarinet solo.


2017 | solo horn|

grunwald is in progress

among the silver birches

2017 | solo flute | 9 minutes

among the silver birches was completed in August 2017.

The piece is a reflection on the Katyn massacre, a series of mass executions of Polish nationals carried out by the NKVD, the "People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs", a Soviet (Russian) secret police organisation, in April and May 1940.

About 22,000 Poles-army officers, police officers and intelligentsia-were systematically murdered by order of the Russian government, in order to ease the opportunist takeover of Poland by Russia, which the Soviet alliance with Hitler made possible. Though the killings took place at several different locations, the massacre is named after the Katyn Forest, where some of the mass graves were first discovered.

In an extraordinary and tragic coincidence, on 10 April 2010, a Polish Air Force plane carrying 96 people to attend an event marking the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre, crashed near Smolensk, Russia. All those on board perished, including the President of Poland Lech Kaczyński, his wife Maria, and various Polish politicians, dignitaries, and relatives of some of those who died in the Katyn massacre. The crash was found to have been caused by pilot error, as the plane attempted to land in thick fog.


2017 | solo clarinet | 7 minutes

invention was commenced in 2009, but put aside. The work was finally completed in September 2017.

living desert

2017 | solo bass clarinet | 6 minutes

living desert was composed for Finnish clarinettist Maija Anttila, and completed in June 2017.

The Living Desert is a magical and beguiling area in outback Australia, near Broken Hill, New South Wales. To watch the sun go down there is a humbling and uplifting experience. The Australian landscape can be quite deceptive, often appearing still and unchanging. But in fact it teems with life and activity. There is peace, but also there is drama and violence. And the colours. The colours and the light are like nowhere else in the world.


2010 | solo flute | 5 minutes

buwarri for solo flute was composed in April 2010. The premiere performances were given by Polish flautist Iwona Glinka on 19 & 20 May 2012 in Athens, Greece.

Buwarri is the word for dream in the Yindjibarndi language, spoken in north-western Western Australia. The music represents a dream about the Australian desert-the outback-a landscape that possesses immense natural beauty and mystique. At the same time the outback can also be a lonely, desolate place.


2010 | solo violin| 11 minutes

tragedia for solo violin was composed in 2010, in memory of the composer's brother Laurence, who died in 2007 at the age of 54.



2007 | solo alto flute | 5 minutes

elegia for solo alto flute was composed for British flautist Carla Rees, who gave the first performance on 29th January 2007 at the University of Birmingham, England.


2006 | solo flute | 8 minutes

The Sonata for solo flute was composed for Polish flautist Iwona Glinka, who gave the first performance.

The first movement, "Prelude", is based on the subject of the Fugue in C major, Book II of J.S. Bach's Wohltemperierte Klavier. The sonata's second movement, "Pulcinella", takes as its starting point the first six notes of the fugal subject of Domenico Scarlatti's keyboard sonata known as The Cat's Fugue, transposed up an octave to accommodate the flute's range. The third movement, "Mazurka", is based upon the opening three bars of a Muzurka in B minor by Michael Glinka (Iwona's namesake!), originally written for violin and piano. The fourth movement re-works music from an earlier composition by Philip Czaplowski, Elegies for solo clarinet (1998).

Lavender Mist

2006 | solo flute | 6 minutes

Lavender Mist for solo flute was completed during April 2006, and is a musical response to the painting of the same name by American artist Jackson Pollock, Lavender Mist (1950).

The premiere took place at the Corona Contemporary Music Festival in Tuscanny, Italy in July 2006, performed by Lisa Cella.

You Yangs Landscape

2004 | solo horn | 6 minutes

You Yangs Landscape was written in 2004, and takes its name from a painting by Fred Williams, the composer's favourite Australian artist. You Yangs 1 (1963) is from a series painted by Williams in the 1960s that depicts the You Yangs, small granite outcrops that dominate the surrounding plains to the west of Melbourne. These semi-abstract canvasses capture the magical essence of the Australian landscape, its colours and its vibrancy. This particular painting actually shows the view from the top of the You Yangs, an impressive aerial vista of the harsh, dry surrounds, which nevertheless harbour a world of activity.

The word landscape has always fascinated me for the range of meanings it can take on - we talk about the "political" landscape, the "changing" landscape, etc. My horn solo is not intended simply as a musical representation of the You Yangs, or for that matter, the Williams painting. Rather, I am thinking of a landscape that bears witness to constantly changing and evolving activity - both natural and human.

You Yangs Landscape was composed for Graeme Evans, principal horn of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, who premiered the work at BMW Edge, Federation Square, Melbourne on 22nd August 2004, during a concert by the Australia Pro Arte Soloists. Mr. Evans also made many valuable suggestions during the work's composition.

You Yangs Landscape was featured in a segment on the ABC Sunday Arts program about painters and the You Yangs, which was broadcast in 2007.

The Blackbird's Song of Peace

2003 | solo flute | 3 minutes

The Blackbird's Song of Peace for solo flute was composed in 2003, and is dedicated to the late Geoffrey Tozer (pictured), who was one of the finest pianists Australia has produced. He inspired the work's composition by supplying the composer with the opening 3 bars, an actual blackbird call that Tozer heard in Tasmania, in 1964. The music is based on a seven note scale extracted from the Blackbird's call, and the title also reflects the fact that composition of the work began on 20th March 2003, the first day of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The Blackbird's Song of Piece is available on CD at Move Records, performed by Italian flautist Luciano Tristaino of Trio Altrove 1.3

ocean greyness

2003 | solo bass clarinet | 5 minutes

A version of ocean greyness for solo bass clarinet was composed during July 2003, and premiered by Harry Sparnaay on 9th October 2003 at the Performing Arts Centre, Monash University.

ocean greyness

2003 | solo clarinet | 5 minutes

ocean greyness for solo clarinet was composed in May 2003, and first performed by Paul Todd, during a Melbourne Composers League concert at the Retro Café, Fitzroy on 1st June 2003.

The title refers to a 1953 painting by Jackson Pollock, currently exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum in New York:

Ocean Greyness, one of Pollock's last great works, depicts several disembodied eyes hidden within the swirling colored fragments that materialize from the dense, scumbled gray ground. "When you are painting out of your unconscious," he claimed, "figures are bound to emerge." Manifest in this painting is a dynamic tension between representation and abstraction that, finally, constitutes the core of Pollock's multileveled oeuvre.

Nancy Spector


2002 | solo oboe | 7 minutes

Interpolation for solo oboe was completed in September 2002, and composed for Jeffrey Crellin, principal oboist of the Melbourne Symphony, who gave the first performance at a concert in Elder Hall at the University of Adelaide on 18th October 2002.

The title of the work refers to the inclusion, or "interpolation", of an anonymous theme from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book of English keyboard works, "Alman." (a shortened form of Allemande), which appears in its original form in bars 14 to 21, and is subsequently varied and manipulated in a number of ways.


1998 | solo clarinet | 9 minutes

Elegies for solo clarinet was written in 1998 for Phillip Miechel, former principal clarinettist of the Melbourne Symphony, who premiered the work during a concert by the Australian Chamber Soloists, at the University of Melbourne on 13 September 1998.

The work consists of five movements: three elegies separated by two interludes.


1997 | solo oboe | 6 minutes

Monologue for solo oboe was written for Jeffrey Crellin, principal oboist of the Melbourne Symphony, who gave the first performance on 16th September 1997 at the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne. Subsequent performances include those by Linda Walsh at the 1998 International Double Reed Society Conference in Arizona, US; a recording for ABC FM radio by Rainer Gibbons, and Kazimierz Dawidek in Belfast, 2003.

In June 2000 the composer undertook a substantial revision of the work, and this revised version was premiered by Jeffrey Crellin on July 25th 2000, during an Australia Pro Arte concert at Melba Hall.

Every Now and Then...

1987 | solo bass clarinet | 5 minutes

Every Now and Then... for solo bass clarinet was composed in 1983 for the renowned Dutch Bass Clarinetist Harry Sparnaay.

Harry was in residence at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne in 1987, and along with a number of other composers and musicians, I attended a workshop he gave.

I was one of the last to arrive, and before taking my seat, Harry greeted me and I gave him my score. To commence his workshop, without saying a word, Harry proceeded to perform my piece perfectly from sight!

He subsequently made a recording at the VCA studios on the 5th of April.