1949 was a breakthrough year for Tadeusz Baird. He received an invitation to work with the Youth Club affiliated to the Polish Composers’ Union, and an offer of a bursary; he was also considered as a candidate for a stay in Paris on a UNESCO scholarship, and became a member of the Polish Composers’ Union.
However, the most important event turned out to be a visit to Łagów Lubuski, which between 5 and 8 August hosted a National Congress of Composers and Music Critics. Thanks to his Snfonietta the young composer achieved his first success there. As he recalled many years later:
This was my encounter with the musical Olympus, I was overawed and lost amidst all those heated debates. That is why those few young people present there quickly got together and presented a kind of united front.
This front was Group 49, bringing together three young composers:
Kazimierz Serocki, Jan Krenz and I met in a marina on one of the Łagów lakes, and after a long discussion we decided to stick together and, in fact, join our forces, talent and our various skills to find our way somehow in this difficult, complicated, alien and dangerous world – said the composer.
Group 49’s strong name and official programme (both by Stefan Jarociński) provided a “smokescreen” for Poland’s communist authorities, hungry for young artistic souls. The programme included the following provision:
[...] what these young musicians want first of all is to break with the traditions of unbridled novelty and restore lost contact with those listeners that are becoming the main consumers of culture today. Their music is anti-elitist in spirit, but it does not intend to pander to cheap petit bourgeois taste, which is why in pursuing their objectives they do not want to give up any achievements of modern harmony.
In fact, they were a group of three friends, who were bound by close personal and artistic ties all their lives. The name – Group 49 – was used only for two composers’ concerts (both in Warsaw): on 13 January 1950 and 30 May 1952 (repeated on 1 June 1952). After that the three artists worked only under their own names.
These important events in Tadeusz’s life were happening at an inauspicious time for his family. Not only did his father leave the family after the war and moved in with another woman, but on 5 January 1950 he was suddenly detained and arrested by the Public Security Authority. Nearly six months later, in May 1950, he was charged and on 30 November that year – sentenced. The District Military Court in Warsaw ruled that Edward Baird, as an official of the Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Reforms, had acted to the detriment of the Polish state, because he had revealed a state secret (concerning the general condition of agriculture in Poland, the state of the crops and fallow land, the headage, the repair of wartime damage to agriculture, the state of livestock) to a foreign agent. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison and was deprived of public rights and honorary civic rights for 5 years. We can be almost certain that the reasons behind Edward’s arrest included his wartime past. He had been a member of the Union of Armed Struggle, and had been active in the Home Army and the Government Delegation for Poland as a deputy head of the Department of Agriculture. Such a past could not have gone unnoticed by the government, which persecuted former members of the Home Army. Aware of the great danger to his father’s life, Tadeusz did not cease in his efforts to have him acquitted and freed. He talked personally to and corresponded with various decision-makers, primarily with the then president and subsequently prime minister of Poland, Bolesław Bierut. As a result, the composer’s father spent three and a half years in prison. He was released in June 1953, with the sentence being rescinded four years later (1957) and the case being dismissed.
The composer’s widow recalls this extremely difficult case, stressing that not all events and efforts of Edward’s son are documented:
I know that when he went to Bierut, a favour procured by Sokorski and for which he had to writeThe Ballad of a Cup, he was very nervous – what to say in order not to make the matters worse [...] Bierut replied – we’ll see what can be done [...] There are no traces of this visit at the Institute of National Remembrance, there are probably only letters [...] of his father’s second wife, because she, too, went there many times, she took care of him.
We do know, however, that the fight for his father led to Baird’s writing three panegyrical pieces: a cantata, Song of Revolution (1951), The Ballad of a Soldier’s Cup (1954) and a mass song, At a Warsaw Rally (1955). The composer’s determined efforts were supported by the deputy minister and then minister of Culture and Art, Włodzimierz Sokorski.
- T. Baird, J. Zadrowska (ed.), M. Adamski (rec.), Życie nie tylko nutami pisane - cykl gawęd wspomnieniowych [A Life not Only in Notes – a Series of Reminiscences] [sound doc.], tale 7.
- T. A. Zieliński, Tadeusz Baird, Kraków 1966, p. 20.