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Karol Szymanowski (1882–1937) was a great Polish composer. He was born on 6 October 1882 in Ukraine. From 1901 to 1904 he studied music in Warsaw and in the following decade made a reputation for himself by composing music in the German Romantic tradition.
In the years before the First World War, Szymanowski traveled widely throughout southern Europe, north Africa, the Middle East. During his visits to Sicily, Szymanowski confirmed his homosexuality and love of boys. In the spring of 1919, Szymanowski met the fifteen-year-old Boris Kochno, an aspiring poet, and fell in love with him. The love was reciprocated and Kochno became clear about his sexual orientation towards men. The relationship was interrupted in 1920 when Szymanowski moved to Warsaw, and Kochno moved to Paris in order to follow a brilliant career as a ballet dancer.
Szymanowski's feelings towards boys can be also inferred from his novel Ephebos. Written at the time of the October Revolution in Russia, it remains unpublished as the manuscript was burned following the German invasion of Poland. Nevertheless, a 150-page Russian version of the novel's central chapter "Symposium", given as a gift of love to Kochno, survived and is now available in a German translation.
Szymanowski suffered ill health due to excessive smoking and died in Lausanne, Switzerland on 29 March 1937.
- Kennedy, Hubert. "Karol Szymonski, his boy-love novel, and the boy he loved," Paidika: The Journal of Paedophilia 3, no. 3 (1994): 26-33. Reprinted in Hubert Kennedy, Four in Gay History (.pdf file).
- Turnbaugh, Douglas Blair. "Szymanowski, Karol Maciej," in glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture (Chicago, 2002).