Mr. and Mrs. Peter Gorecki
(May 30, 2010)
Peter J. Gorecki, a choir director, organist and composer who was a central figure in Polish music here for many decades, died Monday, June 13 2011, in Erie County Medical Center. He was 86.
Mr. Gorecki served for 28 years as musical director and conductor of the Chopin Singing Society, longer than any other director of Polonia’s premiere chorus, before he stepped down in 1981. He led the Chopin group on two concert tours of Poland and conducted it on numerous televised concerts.
As music director for the City of Buffalo, he produced the city’s Summer Concert Series and founded the Buffalo Community Orchestra, which performed in the series. He also introduced piano lessons for children at the city’s community centers.
He also directed the United German-American Singing Societies, the Kalina Singing Society, the Polish Singing Circle and the choir at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church, where he was organist and music director for 30 years.
Born in Pszcyna, Poland, the son of a church organist, Mr. Gorecki attended the music conservatory in Katowice, Poland, and the Handel Conservatory in Munich, Germany. During World War II, he was forced to work in a labor camp in Germany.
In a displaced-persons camp after the war, he organized a choir and began composing and arranging his own music.
He left Germany in 1949 and came to the U. S. After a couple of years on Long Island, he moved to Buffalo and started playing organ at St. Stanislaus Church. Soon, to support his growing family, he was working with several different choirs.
“Monday I worked with Kalina,” he told an interviewer in 2009, when he was honored by the Polish Arts Club of Buffalo. “Tuesday was Chopin’s. Wednesday was the Polish Singing Circle. Thursday was the German choir, and Friday was a different German choir.”
In 1981, he and his wife startled the local Polish community by moving back to Germany, where he worked as a church organist and choir director on a more relaxed schedule for the next 10 years.
The Goreckis returned to Buffalo in 1991, spending summers at their home in West Falls and wintering in Boynton Beach, Fla. He was musical director of the Paderewski Singing Society and continued to work with other local musical groups until he retired two years ago.
He also was choral director of the Polish Singers Alliance of America.
The Buffalo Common Council honored him by proclaiming June 3, 2009, Peter Gorecki Day.
Surviving are his wife of 64 years, the former Helena Martusiewicz; two sons, Arthur and Hyacinth “Jack;” two daughters, Barbara Serio and Cecilia; and three sisters, Marinia Gorniak, Teresa and Sister Regina Gorecki.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a. m. Saturday in St. Stanislaus Church, Fillmore Avenue and Peckham Street.
Polonia Music would like to extend its most sincere sympathy to the family of the late Peter Gorecki. To many in the Polonia community, Pan Gorecki was our inspiration, our mentor and a true friend. His gift for music and his dedication to Polish culture will be deeply missed.
A leading church organist and a successful choir director and orchestra leader, Mr. Peter Gorecki was born in Poland in 1924. Following in the footsteps of his father who also was an organist, Mr. Gorecki took his first organ lessons from his father. As a young man he pursued a musical career at the Conservatory in Katowice, Poland, Monachium in Germany and at the University of Buffalo.
He comes to Buffalo with a vast background of experience as a church organist. Among the various churches in which he served as organist is the military chapel in Katowice, a Franciscan Convent in Panewniki, both places being in Poland. Before coming to his present assignment as organist at St. Stanislaus Church here in Buffalo, he played for St. Ladislaus Church in Long Island, New York.
Mr. Gorecki does not confine his talent to the church. He is also a director of the following choirs or singing groups: Kalina Choir, Chopin Choir and Bavaria Maennerchow. Mr. Gorecki also directs the Buffalo Community Orchestra in a series of annual summer concerts under the skies.
Source: p.143, "Millennium of Christianity of the Polish People 966-1966 Buffalo Diocesan Observance"
A Personal Remembrance of Mr. Gorecki
Being a choirboy required considerable dedication. We sang for the 8 o'clock Mass every school day then rehearsed every day for one hour after school. We also sang for the 12 o'clock Mass every Sunday and participated in many special performances. One of our greatest rewards for our efforts was having the almost daily opportunity to watch our gifted organist, Mr. Gorecki, work his magic on the church pipe organ. I always liked it best when he would occasionally make a thundering sound with the bass keys for emotive effect. (When Mr. Gorecki played "The Star-Spangled Banner" on our choir room piano, for example, you really could hear those bombs bursting in air -- no imagination required.)
I remember that Mr. Gorecki was a kind and patient man who always found it easy to smile. He lived just down the street from me so he never escaped my sales pitch when I made the neighborhood rounds selling stamps to help the missions. (Participation in this enterprise was mandatory and ongoing.) In fact, I was always warmly received by the Goreckis and remember feeling honored that he would take the time to speak to me or to my friends when off duty.
Years later, after college and the army, I saw Mr. and Mrs. Gorecki in West Falls, New York where he and his wife had a country home just down the road from my inlaws. One summer evening when taking a walk with my family, I ran into the Goreckis who were also out for a stroll. It was just like meeting him on Peckham Street in the old neighborhood. What a surprise! He actually remembered me and asked the usual questions about me and my family. This man was always a class act.
The last time I saw Mr. Gorecki was at the 2010 Polish Singers Alliance Festival Concert at St. Stanislaus Church in Buffalo, NY. Everyone was so happy to see him; it was like a rock star entered the church! He smiled when he saw me sitting one pew over and we chatted briefly after the performance. I did not expect him to speak to me, but he did. I asked if I could take his picture and he said it would be okay. Although it came out blurry, the photo (above right) is one of my favorites. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Gorecki - always a class act!
Mr. Gorecki (in white jacket) at Pulaski Day Parade, Buffalo, New York