• WL100/67: Notebook, 11 November 1961

Lutosławski on the Role of the Conductor

Between the completion of Jeux vénitiens and starting work on Trois poèmes, Lutosławski penned a short definition of the changing relationship between the conductor and players of his music.  It suggests a more radical intention than was later realised, as Lutosławski seems to be indicating a greater freedom than he eventually was prepared to allow his interpreters.

With my new technique, the conductor’s role becomes ever more like the role of the director and stage manager in one, while the role of the orchestral musicians is like the roles of actors and extras.  The old school of orchestral playing was more like taming, mechanising, drilling, in which there was no place for the musician’s individual initiative in the area of textual and expressive interpretation.

W mojej nowej technice rola dyrygenta coraz bardziej staje się podobna do roli reżysera i inspicjenta w jednej osobie, zaś rola muzyków orkiestrowych – do roli aktorów i statystów.  Stara szkoła gry orkiestrowej była raczej tresurą, mechanizowaniem, musztrą, w której nie było miejsca na indywidualną inicjatywę muzyka w zakresie interpretacji tekstu, ekspresji.

Witold Lutosławski, 11 November 1961 [my translation]

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