• Tomasz Sikorski, d.13 November 1988

Today is  the 25th anniversary of the death of Górecki’s near-contemporary Tomasz Sikorski (1939-1988). Yesterday marked the third anniversary of Górecki’s death, but some sources (Wikipedia) also give yesterday as the date of Sikorski’s death, while others (Encyklopedia MuzykiNew Grove) give tomorrow, 14 November.  The most reliable Polish sources (Encyklopedia Muzyczna, Polish Music Information Centre POLMIC, PWM) give today, 13 November.

284_rdSikorski was and is one of the most singular voices in post-war Polish music and it is good to see that he still attracts a devoted following, not least through recent releases of his work on Bôłt Records.

When I was in Warsaw in January I went to a recital of some of his pieces by his friend and lifelong advocate of Polish piano music, the Hungarian pianist Szabolcs Esztényi.  The event marked the recent release of two Bôłt CDs, issued in partnership with several like-minded advocates such as Polish Radio 2, Polish Radio Experimental Studio, Foundation 4.99, DUX records, Bocian Records and the journal Glissando.  Sikorski’s music is/was published by PWM, Author’s Agency (Agencja Autorska), Moeck and Edition Modern.

sikorski_solitudeSolitude of Sounds. In memoriam Tomasz Sikorski (DUX 0936/0937) is a 2-CD set that also includes pieces by Esztényi (Created Music no.3 and Concerto) and Kasia Głowicka (Presence).  The Sikorski pieces are Echoes II (1963), Antiphons (1963), Solitude of Sounds for tape (1975) and Diario 87 for reciter and tape.  Sikorski himself performs on the first two of these archival recordings, and Esztényi writes a penetrating and disturbing recollection of his friend, who died in unexplained circumstances aged just 49.

sikor_tilburyThe second CD marks another, if briefer friendship, this time with forged with John Tilbury (b.1936), who met Sikorski in Zbigniew Drzewiecki’s piano class at the Higher School of Music in Warsaw in the early 1960s.  Tilbury’s CD For Tomasz Sikorski includes recent recordings that he made of his friend’s Zerstreutes Hinausschauen (1972), Autograph (1980) and Rondo (1984) plus his own Improvisation for Tomasz Sikorski (2011).

There is also, happily, a fair representation on YouTube, mostly uploaded by nocontrol696.  Jackamo Brown has created a 12-work playlist from nocontrol696’s uploads:

Monodia e Sequenza for flute and piano (1966)
Homophony for four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, gong and piano (Homofonia, 1970)
For Strings for three violins/violas (Na smyczki, 1970)
Zerstreutes Hinausschauen for piano (1972)
Holzwege for orchestra (1972)
• Music for Listening for two pianos (Muzyka Nasłuchiwania, 1973)
• Other Voices for 24 wind instruments, four gongs and bells (Inne głosy, 1975)
Sickness unto Death for two pianos, for horns and four trumpets (Choroba na śmierć, 1976)
Strings in the Earth for strings (Struny w ziemi, 1980)
• Autograph for piano (Autograf, 1980)
La Notte for strings (1984)
Diario 87 for reciter and tape

…….

For what they’re worth, here are two passages from my book Polish Music since Szymanowski (CUP, 2005), pp.213, 219-22, which discuss Sikorski and, initially, his contemporary and closest friend, Zygmunt Krauze, who happily is still very much with us (we met in Warsaw last Saturday).

If sonorism of the Pendereckian mould emanated from Kraków, Warsaw maintained a polite distance, preferring, in the music of Lutosławski, Baird, Serocki and others, to develop a closer architectonic relationship with detailed rhythmic and pitch organisation.  Of the younger Warsaw generation who graduated in the 1960s, two composers quickly became pre-eminent: Zygmunt Krauze and Tomasz Sikorski (1939-88), son of the composer Kazimierz Sikorski.  They were both his students, the latest in a line that already included Bacewicz, Baird, Kisielewski, Krenz, Palester, Panufnik and Serocki.  From the beginning, they each showed a determined individuality which defined a different stream in contemporary Polish music.

[…]

Tomasz Sikorski’s contribution to Music Workshop [Krauze’s pioneering ensemble of clarinet, trombone, cello and piano] reinforces the essentially minimal ethos not only of much of the music promoted by the ensemble but also Sikorski’s own distinctive voice.  This he established in a series of works in the mid-1960s – Antiphons and Echoes II (1963), Prologi (1964), Concerto breve (1965) and Sequenza I (1966) – in which the music proceeds by means of chains of small ad libitum fragments grouped in larger sequences.  The quasi-improvisational chordal fragments are deployed antiphonally or as live or tape playback echoes in a reiterative heterophony that is obsessive and, like some of Krauze’s pieces, achieves a disembodied, altered state, particularly in the cumulative resonances and polymorphic character of Antiphons and Echoes II.  Prologi is characterised by its mix of triadic ideas, diatonic scales and more dissonant material; his use of four-note cells, constructed from pairs of perfect fourths, is a feature of this and other compositions, where tritonal harmonies or pedals become a regular feature.

Sikorski’s pervasive nervous energy and unremitting focus on reductive processes occasionally approached the sonoristic values apparent elsewhere in Polish music (Concerto breve, Sequenza I), mainly by developing flickering, amorphous and quasi-stochastic textures.  But in the works of the late 1960s he returned to an introspective, often fractured idiom which focussed on one or two key notions.  In one of his rare comments on his compositional intentions, he described Sonant for piano (1967) in the following terms:

This work is based on the contrast between the attack and decay of sound.  The work’s construction, above all its temporal organisation (augmentation of rhythmic values, approximate values, whose duration depends each time on the timbral characteristics of the piano), as well as its ‘form’ (static aspect, repetitions of structures, etc.), are the consequences of the distribution of Sonant‘s sound material in two strata: those of attack and decay.*

By the time of Homophony (1970), Sikorski had intensified the concentration of his material: ‘It is a proposal for static, one-dimensional music.  In this work, both the sound material and its structuring are reduced to a minimum’.**

Homophony‘s instrumental forces reiterated Sikorski’s lifelong interest in specific timbres (it is scored for twelve brass, piano and gong) and he reinforced his fascination with the interface of diatonicism and dissonance in utilising a six-note bitonal chording, a combination of first-inversion G major and second-inversion B flat minor triads.  His fundamentally diatonic language is particularly evident – even exposed – in the pared-down minimal reiterations of his Music Workshop commission, Untitled (1972).  He had, by this stage, defined his musical persona as uncompromisingly austere in terms of both material and its deployment and of the timbral-expressive world which he explored (cf. Górecki in the late 1960s).  He largely eschewed the temptations of orchestral sonorism (although in Holzwege for small orchestra, 1972, he achieved an almost Messiaen-like luxuriance both texturally and harmonically), usually preferring an ascetic palette in which his intense and often bleak reiterations could be given full rein outside traditional modes of discourse.  In the 1970s and 1980s, these meditations took on a more defined existential and elegiac hue: he notably drew on the philosophical ideas of authors such as Heidegger (Holzwege), Kierkegaard (Sickness unto Death – Choroba na śmierć, 1976), Joyce (Strings in the Earth – Struny na ziemi, 1980), Beckett (Afar a Bird – W dali ptak, 1981), Nietzsche (La notte, 1984), Kafka (Das Schweigen der Sirenen, 1986) and Borges (Diario, 1987).  Aside from his connections with Krauze, however, he remained a somewhat isolated figure, tirelessly and intriguingly exploring a consistent if narrow range of compositional rituals.

* Note in 1967 ‘Warsaw Autumn’ programme book, pp.89-90.
** Note in 1970 ‘Warsaw Autumn’ programme book, p.19.

• On music and the Jagiellonians

Barely had I posted about the arrival of a new collection of essays on early Polish music (New ‘Eastern European Studies’ series) than one of its editors, Paweł Gancarczyk, drew my attention to another volume that he has co-edited, with Agnieszka Leszczyńska, and which came out last year: The Musical Heritage of the Jagiellonian Era (Warsaw: Instytut Sztuki PAN, 2012).

Gancarczyk_Jagiellonian

It is, unfortunately, the case that many Polish academic publications, even when specially produced in foreign-language editions, rarely escape to wider audiences.  Yet this collection of twenty seven essays, nineteen of which are in English, eight in German, has a range and line-up deserving of international appreciation.  It shares a few authors with The Musical Culture of Silesia before 1742 (see preceding post) but it has a broader geographical and musical reach.  Together, their forty eight essays are a fascinating insight by current authorities into several centuries of Poland’s musical and cultural history.

The Musical Heritage of the Jagiellonian Era

Elżbieta Witkowska-Zaremba: Patterns of music education in Central Europe in the fifteenth century: codices with the Jagiellonian mark
Jūraté Trilupaitiené: Musical culture of the Jagiellonian dynasty in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania: between sacrum and profanum
Dominika Grabiec: Musical motifs in Christ’s Passion: the Mocking from the Holy Trinity Chapel at Lublin Castle and miniatures from the Cracovian Dominican meditations (ca. 1532)
Hrvoje Beban: Inter arma (non) silent musae.  Renaissance musical culture in Croatia during the reign of the Jagiellonian dynasty
Elżbieta Zwolińska: Einige Bemerkungen zu den musikalischen Kontakten zwischen dem Hofe der letzten Jagiellonen und dem Habsburgerhause
Eva Veselovská: Mittelalterliche Notationssysteme vom Gebiet der Slowakei aus der Wendezeit des 15. und 16. Jahrhunderts
Veronika M. Mráčková: Staff notation in sources from the convent of St George in Prague
Jan Ciglbauer: Neumarkter Cantionale: Geistliche lateinische Lieder um 1470 und ihre Vergangenheit in mitteleuropäischen Handschriften
Ian Rumbold: Austrian or Bavarian?  Hermann Pötzlinger’s music book (Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 14274): a new source of information
Katelijne Schiltz: Rosen, Lilien und Kanons: Die Anthologie Suavissimae et iucundissimae harmoniae (Nürnberg, 1567)
Christian Thomas Leitmeir: Teodoro Riccio’s Liber primus missarum (1579): a musical ambassador between Prussia and Poland
Marc Desmet: Establishing a chronology of Jacob Handl’s printed masses.  Evidence and problems
Barbara Przybyszewska-Jarmińska: An overlooked fantasia for instrumental ensemble by Francesco Maffon.  GB-Och MSS Mus. 372-376 as a vestige of Paweł Działyński’s diplomatic mission to England in 1597?
Pawel Gancarczyk: Musical culture of the Teutonic Order in Prussia reflected in the Marienburger Tresslerbuch (1399-1409)
Bartosz Awianowicz: The Graeco-Latin vocabulary of Petrus Wilhelmi de Grudencz
Gioia Filocami: The musical taste of Archbishop Ippolito I d’Este between Hungary and Italy
Thomas Napp: Upper Lusatia: cultural transfer and spatiality in early modern Central Europe
Danuta PopingisDas singende Uhrwerk zu Füßen von König Zygmunt August – ein Beitrag zur Herkunft des automatischen Glockenspiels im Rechtstädtischen Rathaus von Danzig
Janka Petőczová: Musical culture in Bardejov (Bártfa, Bartfeld, Bardiów) in the mid-sixteenth century
Agnieszka Leszczyńska: A common musical tradition: links between Upper Hungary and Prussia around 1600
Marta Hulková: Musikalische Handschriften von der Wendezeit des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts in der Musikaliensammlung von Levoča (Leutschau/Lőcse)
Magdalena Walter-Mazure: On how the nuns sang Vespers in fractus – alternatim practice in liturgical music of Polish female Benedictines
Julia Miller: Luca Marenzio: questions of performance in Poland and Italy
Reinald Ziegler: Claudio Monteverdis Publikation einer Messe und einer Vesper 1610.  Zum transfer von Kompositionstechniken im konfessionsverschiedenen Umfeld, oder: Welche kompositorischen Impulse gingen von einem heute als epochemachend empfundenen Werk aus?
Teresa Krukowska: Wie europäisch war des musikalische Repertoire der polnischen evangelischen Kantonalien im 16. Jh. und wie europäisch ist es heute?
Anna Ryszka-Komarnicka: An episode from the reign of King Władysław II Jagiełło of Poland in Gismondo re de Polonia, a dramma per musica by Leonardo Vinci (1727)
Marco Beghelli: An imaginary Poland in nineteenth-century opera

• New ‘Eastern European Studies’ series

The postwoman’s just delivered the first volume in a new series, ‘Eastern European Studies in Musicology’.  It’s a collaboration between the University of Wrocław and the German publisher Peter Lang, under the general editorship of Maciej Gołąb (Wrocław).  I should declare an interest in so far as I am on the Editorial Board, along with colleagues from Brno, Vilnius, Lviv, Moscow and Budapest.  The series promises to bring not only new perspectives on music from this wide geo-cultural area but also the writings of a host of authors to the attention of a broader public.  This new volume sets the benchmark.

Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 11.11.18

The Musical Culture of Silesia before 1742 contains twenty one essays under the editorship of Paweł Gancarczyk (Warsaw), Lenka Hlávková-Mráčková (Prague) and Remigiusz Pośpiech (Wrocław).  Why the specific date, 1742? This was the year that Silesia came under Prussian rule.  Prior to that, it had been subject to centuries of shifting political and cultural influences (which of course did not stop then).  The wonderfully varied contents of this first volume reflect this history.  Sixteen of the essays are in English, the remaining five in German.  There are plentiful illustrations, an index of people mentioned in the essays, but no author biographies except academic affiliations at the top of their contributions.

The Musical Culture of Silesia before 1742

Elżbieta Witkowska-Zaremba (Warsaw): Early Keyboard Music in Sources from Prague and Silesia
Veronika M. Mráčková (Prague): The Silesian Tradition of Hymns to Czech Saints
Jan Ciglbauer (Prague): Two Alleluia Chants in Nicolaus Cosel’s Manuscript: On the Creation of New Liturgical Music in 15th-Century Central Europe
Paweł Gancarczyk (Warsaw): A New Fragment of 15th-Century Polyphony in Silesia and the Tradition of the Central-European Repertory
Lenka Hlávková-Mráčková (Prague): Die Saganer Stimmbücher (Das Glogauer Liederbuch) und die Traditionen des polyphonen Liedes in Mitteleuropa
Jaap van Benthem (Utrecht): Die Saganer Stimmbücher (Das Glogauer Liederbuch): eine unbeachtete Quelle für Johannes Tourout?
Jacobijn Kiel (Houten – Heřmánkovice): Two Anonymous Salve Settings in Warszawa, Biblioteka Uniwersytecka, RM 5892
Christian Thomas Leitmeir (Bangor): Lutheran Propers for Wrocław/Breslau: The Cantus Choralis (1575) of Johannes Knöfel
Marc Desmet (Saint-Étienne): Jacob Handl’s Compositions Preserved in the Brzeg Manuscript Collection: Presentation and Chronological Clues
Bernhold Schmid (Munich)Nach dir, Herr Christe, thut mein hertz verlangen. Ein unbekanntes Kontrafakt zu Jacob Regnarts Tutto lo giorno aus der Bibliothek des Gymnasiums in Brieg
Thomas Napp (Reichenbach): Transferprozesse zwischen Görlitz und Breslau am Beispiel des Meistergesangs im ausgehenden 16. Jahrhundert
Janka Petőczová (Bratislava): The Role of Silesia in the Development of Musical Culture in the Towns of Spiš/Zips and Šariš/Scharosch
Paulina Halamska (Warsaw): Protestant Elite Milieu in the 17th-Century County of Kłodzko/Glatz as Exemplified by the Family of the Wrocław/Breslau Organist Tobias Zeutschner.  Gloss to the Biography
Tomasz Jeż (Warsaw): Jesuit Melodrama in Baroque Kłodzko/Glatz
Barbara Przybyszewska-Jarmińska (Warsaw): Marcin Mielczewski (d. 1651) and Alberik Mazák (1609–1661): A Silesian Perspective
Grzegorz Joachimiak (Wrocław): A Week in the Blacksmith’s Life: Lutenists from Silesia and Bohemia around Count Losy von Losinthal (1650–1721)
Remigiusz Pośpiech (Wrocław): Ein Schlesier aus Oppeln in Prag: Franz Ludwig Poppe (1671–1730) und seine Werke in tschechischen Sammlungen
Václav Kapsa (Prague): On the Way from Prague to Wrocław: Sacred Music by Early 18th-Century Prague Composers in Silesia
Marc Niubo (Prague): Bernard Artophaeus and Bohuslav Matĕj Černohorský.  Casual Examples of Czech Music in Baroque Silesia or the Last Traces of Music by Minorities in Wrocław?
Dominika Grabiec Warsaw): The Motif of «Deafening with Trumpets» in Central European Passion Iconography, the Religious Renewal Movement «Devotio moderna» and Reform of the Begging Monastic Orders
Martina Šárovcová (Prague): Choral Books from the Observant Franciscan Monastery in Wrocław from the End of the 17th Century.

• Recollecting Górecki

While I was in Warsaw last week, a new book was launched that goes beyond traditional reminiscences of recently departed artists.  It is almost three years since Henryk Mikołaj Górecki died – he would, like Penderecki, have been 80 this year and no doubt there would have been wider celebrations of his music had he still been alive.  The 2013 ‘Warsaw Autumn’, in a fit of commemoration, put on three concerts devoted to Lutosławski (Piano Concerto with Krystian Zimerman, Third Symphony), Penderecki (St Luke Passion) and Górecki (the three string quartets).  This new volume on Górecki, however, is no mere commemoration.  The contributors to Górecki. Portret w Pamięci (Górecki. Portrait in Memory) – all 42 of them, many of whom knew him extremely well and over many years – bring Górecki’s vivid, complex and sometimes contradictory personality back to life.  Taken together, they don’t miss you and hit the wall, as the saying goes.  There is a tinge of regret at the absence of his closest contemporaries, the composers Zbigniew Bujarski, Wojciech Kilar and Penderecki, and of the dedicatee and conductor of the premiere of Scontri, Jan Krenz.  But the collection is nevertheless rich in telling detail.

The book’s concept and execution were down to my friend Beata Bolesławska-Lewandowska.  She asks intelligent and searching questions and elicits fascinating responses, accessible to a wide range of readers.  Unfortunately, it is only in Polish, so readers and contributors who do not know the language have little chance of enjoying the memories therein.  An English version surely beckons.

Homma 1993 2

The contributions are grouped according to the interviewees’ occupations or relationship with the composer, each section printed on different coloured paper, and each interview prefaced by a photograph of the interviewee, sometimes with Górecki.  Here’s a list of the contributors and a byline on each.

Najbliżsi (Nearest): Jadwiga Górecka (widow), Mikołaj Górecki (son, composer), Anna Górecka (daughter, pianist)
• Uczniowie (Students): Eugeniusz Knapik (composer, pianist, teacher), Rafał Augustyn (composer, critic, Polish philologist), Małgorzata Hussar (composer, teacher)
Okiem muzykologa (In the eyes of the musicologist): Leon Markiewicz (Katowice Music Academy), Mieczysław Tomaszewski (former director of PWM, Kraków Music Academy), Teresa Malecka (Kraków Music Academy), Krzysztof Droba (Kraków Music Academy), Adrian Thomas (quite why I’m here rather than in group six I’m not sure!), Grzegorz Michalski (author, broadcaster, President of the Witold Lutosławski Society)
Kompozytorzy i wykonawcy (Composers and performers): Włodzimierz Kotoński (composer, teacher), Zygmunt Krauze (composer, pianist), Elżbieta Chojnacka (harpsichordist), Antoni Wit (conductor), Zofia Kilanowicz (soprano), Marek Moś (conductor, former leader of the Silesian String Quartet), Father Kazimierz Szymonik (priest, conductor)
• Dania (Denmark): Louise Lerche-Lerchenborg (commissioner of Lerchenmusik), Rosalind Bevan (pianist), Teresa Waśkowska (critic)
• Wielka Brytania (Great Britain): David Atherton (conductor), Paul Crossley (pianist), Janis Susskind (publisher, Boosey & Hawkes)
Stany Zjednoczone (United States): David Zinman (conductor), David Harrington (leader, Kronos Quartet), John Sherba (second violin, Kronos Quartet), Carol Wincenc (flautist)
• Bielsko-Biała (town south of Katowice where Górecki hosted a short festival each October; it still flourishes): Władysław Szczotka (Director, Bielsko-Biała Cultural Centre), Ewa Stojek-Lupin (pianist, portrait painter), Jacek Krywult (politician, President of Bielsko-Biała)
Promotorzy, organizatorzy (Promoters, organisers): Andrzej Kosowski (Director of Institute for Music and Dance, former director of PWM), Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa (MD of NOSPR – National Symphony Orchestra of Polish Radio, Katowice), Ewa B. Michalska (music manager), Andrzej Wendland (Artistic Director, Tansman Festival, Łódź)
Interpretacje (Interpretations): Andrzej Chłopecki (✝ musicologist, broadcaster, critic), Krzysztof Zanussi (film director), Szymon Bywalec (conductor), Malgorzata and Marcin Gmys (musicologists), Mirosław Jacek Błaszczyk (conductor), Violetta Rotter-Kozera (TV documentary director)

• WL100/52: His Last BBC Prom

Twenty years ago today, on Friday 27 August 1993, Lutosławski was in London to conduct the BBC SO in the UK premiere of his Fourth Symphony.  It was to be his last visit to this country, as he died on 7 February the following year.  Before the concert, looking fit and fired up for the performance, he talked to me about the new piece and answered questions from members of the Proms audience.

WL&AT, Proms, 27.08.93

And here’s an article/interview by Stephen Johnson published the same day in The Independent.

Johnson:WL article 27.08.93

• Lutosławski Report (Warsaw, 2013)

The Institute of Music and Dance in Warsaw has today issued a Report on the presence of Witold Lutosławski’s music in the musical life of Poland and the world.  Its author is Ewa Cichoń.  It covers mainly the years since Lutosławski’s death in 1994, up to the end of 2012.  The report, which exists in English and Polish pdfs (links below), contains a wide range of data:

• Performances in Poland and abroad
• Selected festivals in Poland
• CD recordings
• Literature
• Literature – list of publications
• Films and DVDs
• Programmes broadcast on TVP (Polish TV)
• Websites devoted to Lutosławski
• Researchers and promoters
• Institutions
• Institutions, festivals, competitions bearing Lutosławski’s name
• Others connected with Lutosławski
• Musical works dedicated to Lutosławski
• A public survey on Lutosławski
• Appendix: Publication of Lutosławski’s works
• Appendix: Broadcasts on Polish Radio

• English-language version of the report
• Polish-language version of the report

• Research grants (Polish music) for 2013-14

20110307_imt_logoThe Institute of Music and Dance has announced its international grant-awarding competition for research into Polish music.  It’s called ‘Blank Pages of Music’. Applicants, primarily those working on lesser-known topics of Polish music and dance, are encouraged to apply for grants of up to 10,000zl (c. £2000) for individuals or up to 20,000zl (c. £4000) for a group of researchers.  The total fund for 2013-14 is 100,000zł (c. £20,000).

30 June 2013: deadline for submission of applications.
1 October 2013 – 30 June 2014: research period for successful applicants.
31 July 2014: deadline for hardcopy and electronic submission of completed research projects.

For further details, please click on Blank Pages of Music – 3rd Edition, where you will find three pdf links about the programme, past awards and an application form.

• Lutosławski issue of MWM

MWM WL issue cover 01.13The Wrocław Philharmonic, named after Witold Lutosławski, has just published a special issue of its house magazine MWM – Muzyka w Mieście (Music in the City).  This centenary edition comprises mainly interviews.  Although it is in Polish, there is a detachable insert with English and German excerpts from three of its eight items (marked *).

• Paweł Hendrich: ‘W roku Lutosławskiego o nim samym i jego muzyce’
• Adrian Thomas: ‘Gry brytyjskie’ *
• Adam Sławiński: ‘Spotkania z Mistrzem’ *
• Kazimierz Kord: ‘Harmonia naturalności’
• Esa-Pekka Salonen: ‘Lutosławski według Salonena’ *
• Heinz Holliger: ‘Tyle nut, ile trzeba’
• Aleksander Laskowski: ‘W poszukiwaniu nagraniowej inicjacji’
• Anne-Sophie Mutter, David Harrington, Solveig Kringleborn, Antoni Wit, Cezary Duchnowski, Agata Zubel: ‘Mój Lutosławski’

• William Hughes completes his Szymanowski

It is almost five months since I last posted links to William Hughes’s invaluable English translations of Polish articles on Szymanowski (The Chronicles of Dr Hughes), the vast majority of them from 1937-38.  Since then, he has posted 68 more, making a final total of over 130 translations.  This has been a mammoth task, undertaken with love and care as well as from a burning desire to share these important documents with a wider audience.  I hope that his efforts will one day be rewarded with a hard-copy publication, so if you appreciate his extraordinarily selfless achievement and agree with me about wanting to see this material in print, do let him know.  He has redesigned his website so that is is easy to scroll through the summaries and click for the full articles.  He’s also added images to many of the items.

It’s superfluous for me to itemise these documents as in my previous posts, so it gives me great pleasure to direct you straight to his own site: http://drwilliamhughes.blogspot.co.uk/.  Bravo, William!

• WL100/8: Musique funèbre, 10 January 1958

On this day in 1958, Lutosławski put the finishing touches to a score on which he had been working for four years.  In 1998, I wrote a brief commentary on the opening pages of the autograph short score, for a publication about pieces whose manuscripts had been deposited in the Paul Sacher Stiftung in Basel.*

I have always called the piece Funeral Music – except in this little article, where I followed the title that Lutosławski inscribed on his short score: Musique funèbre.  There’s also the Polish version, Muzyka żałobna, which has been common parlance in Poland since the beginning (Lutosławski used it freely).  According to Stanisław Będkowski (A Bio-Biography, 2001), who interviewed the composer in 1988, Lutosławski preferred Mourning Music as the English translation.  This last version has never caught on, even though it is a more accurate translation of the Polish and French alternatives than Funeral Music.  Stucky (Lutosławski and his Music, 1981) and Będkowski stick to the Polish. Rae (The Music of Lutosławski, 1994) prefers the French, as does Skowron (taking Stucky, me and others along with him in his edited Lutosławski Studies, 2001).  My linguistic laziness is shared only by Varga (Lutosławski Profile, 1976) and Nikolska (Conversations with Witold Lutosławski, 1994), each having been translated into English (from Hungarian and Russian, respectively).  CD companies also seem to prefer Funeral Music over the alternatives.  I think I’d better mend my ways and return to the French.

WL Funeral Music article:1

WL Funeral Music article:2

WL Funeral Music article:3

Postscript

Like many writers, I see shortcomings in my past efforts.  This little piece is no exception.  Most particularly, I should have either ignored or dismissed Tarnawska-Kaczorowska’s initial flight of fancy for want of real evidence.  Danuta Gwizdalanka and Krzysztof Meyer (Lutosławski. Droga do dojrzałości, 2003) are more grounded and forthright. Among other rightly dismissive observations (mainly about Tarnawska-Kaczorowska’s attempt at numerological symbolism, which at least I could see straight away were rubbish), they revealed that the Prologue with the F natural – B natural motif was written in the first half of 1955 (over a year before the Hungarian revolution) and that the working title of the piece in 1957 (after the revolution) was the much simpler Etiuda na orkiestrę smyczkową [Study for string orchestra] – Pro memoria Béla Bartók.  

* Settling New Scores. Music Manuscripts from the Paul Sacher Foundation, ed. Felix Meyer (Mainz: Schott, 1998)

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