• WL100/80: Lutosławski’s Chair

When the BBC Radio 3 Music Matters team was preparing for its profile of Lutosławski to mark the centenary of his birth (broadcast on 19 January 2013), its web page included several archive photos of the composer plus one taken on location by his stepson, Marcin Bogusławski.  This photo was of his studio, with his desk and bookshelves.

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It is interesting to compare this photo from 2013 with the one taken by me in September 2002

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and with the undated one taken much earlier by Malcolm Crowthers with Lutosławski at his desk.  It was used for the front cover and inside flap of O muzyce. Pisma i wypowiedzi (Gdańsk, 2011), the Polish version of Lutosławski on Music (Plymouth, 2007).

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Crowthers’ photo is self-evidently the earliest of the three, with Lutosławski gazing out of the window from his desk, which is much fuller of materials than when I took my shot.  (See also my photos in WL100/72: Lutosławski’s Desk and WL100/74: Lutosławski Rules!.)  Bogusławski’s photo has many, but by no means all, of the same books on the shelves, often in a different order.  It also has the accoutrements of modern technology, in which Lutosławski had no interest: a computer and printer.  His typewriter is still there, as are the painting on the end wall and the wooden library steps underneath.  There is, however, a noticeably new office chair.

I cannot tell from Crowthers’ photo what Lutosławski was sitting on, but I would hazard a strong guess that it was the office chair that was still tucked into the desk in 2002.  Sadly, it was in a parlous state by then.  The padded seat was in a bad way and the adjustable back had lost its upright position and leaned impossibly towards the floor.

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It was something deeply melancholic to see it in this state of disrepair, its occupant long absent.  It was a reminder of how much Lutosławski had written from this chair and how much he was missed.

Incidentally, on the seat in the background of my photo is the growing pile of materials that I and Nicholas Reyland made during our three days in the house in 2002.  It contained conducting scores and folders of manuscript materials etc..  On the top we put a note to suggest that they should all go to the Paul Sacher Foundation in Basle to join the rich array of other items that Lutosławski had deposited there.  I do not know if that was ever done; I hope so.

Tomorrow will bring the last of my WL100 posts.  (Better late than never.)  To give you a sporting chance of guessing what it might be, here is a choice of score lines (ho-ho):

• Roussel 3, Lutosławski 1
• Roussel 3, Lutosławski 3

Happy New Year!

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