For the 90th birthday of its Honorary Member Roman Berger, the Polish Composers' Union – in co-operation with the National Centre for Culture Poland and thanks to support from the Society of Authors ZAiKS – released a CD with a monumental work of this great composer and philosopher entitled Missa pro nobis.
Roman Berger was born in 1930 in Cieszyn, Poland, in the family of Józef Berger, a doctor of theology and evangelical minister in Český Těšín (in the disputed region of Zaolzie) and a wartime prisoner of concentration camps in Auschwitz and Dachau. After graduating from the Polish secondary school in Český Těšín, in 1949 Roman Berger entered the State High School of Music in Katowice, studying piano with Marta Furmanik and music theory with Jan Gawlas. In 1952, his family was forced to move to Bratislava, where he resumed his studies at the Academy of Music and Drama, first as a pianist and later as a composer in the class of Dezider Kardoš (1961–1966). He has never come back to live in Poland, and Slovakia became his new homeland.
In an essay prepared for the CD booklet, Roman Berger wrote:
The (confidential) message that the Polish Composers’ Union was going to release my Missa pro nobis on CD moved me greatly, [...] Classical (and even more pop) music, especially sacred compositions, are not written for our own pleasure (“so that it feels nice,” as stated in Sławomir Mrożek’s Émigré). I therefore took this message as an expression of the PCU management (presided over by Mieczysław Kominek) solidarity with the message of my work, intended as a response to St John Paul II’s ‘commandment’ which the Holy Father put forward in the context of the 50th anniversary of the Holocaust (let me quote from memory): “Let people dare to sing today, as long as their song will be a lament, a protest, or a sign of hope”.
The project is carried out in cooperation with the National Centre for Culture and co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.