• WL100/34: Jeux vénitiens, **24 April 1961

Today is the 52nd anniversary of the premiere of the first version of Lutosławski’s Jeux vénitiens (1960-61).  It was performed at the Venice Biennale on 24 April 1961 in the Teatro Fenice, Venice, by the Kraków Philharmonic CO, conducted by Andrzej Markowski.  Jeux vénitiens was a crucial turning point in Lutosławski’s music, notably for his first use of aleatory counterpoint.  This feature became one of the main characteristics of his music on which he and commentators placed considerable emphasis.  What is less explored is the range of ways in which Lutosławski realised this feature by melodic-rhythmic means.  He refined this aspect in subsequent works (Trois poèmes, String Quartet, Paroles tissées, etc.), but his first attempts were unsatisfactory insofar as he subsequently revised key passages in the outer movements of Jeux vénitiens.

I have written about these changes and the whole gestation of Jeux vénitiens elsewhere.*  But to mark this anniversary, I’m posting below – for the first time in public – the complete woodwind texture that occurs at the start of the piece (the lower image runs on from the first).  There are other aspects of this autograph manuscript that Lutosławski would change after Venice – here he simply crosses out the passage with a wavy line – and I will return to them in the future.  But anyone interested in comparing the motivic content in these two images with the woodwind parts in the printed score of the revised version will find much on which to ponder.

The somewhat enigmatic comment at the top of the first image reads: ‘ew. rozbicie na składowe różnej budowy’ – ‘poss. to be split into components of different construction’.

WL JV:1 1st vers ww 1:2

WL JV:I 1st vers ww 2:2* ‘Jeux vénitiens: Working Methods at the Start of Lutosławski’s Mature Period’, Lutosławski Studies, ed. Zbigniew Skowron (Oxford: OUP, 2001), pp.211-43.

One Response to • WL100/34: Jeux vénitiens, **24 April 1961

  1. Pingback: ‘He has died with much music still in him…’ | notesfromapianist

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