• Górecki in wooden covers

I find it hard to believe that it is five years to the day that my irreplaceable friend, composer and life-force, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, died in Katowice.  But rather than dwell on this loss, I have dug up a memory from his 60th birthday, 6 December 1993.  The Great Symphony Orchestra of Polish Radio (WOSPR, now known as NOSPR, ‘National’) put on a celebratory concert of Górecki’s Second Symphony ‘Copernican’ and the Second Symphony by his beloved Karol Szymanowski (although he loved other Szymanowski works better).  Last year, not before time, NOSPR was rehoused in a wonderful purpose-built home the other side of the city, not ten minutes’ walk from Górecki’s house. (Deservedly, the new NOSPR building won ‘event of the year’ at last night’s annual musical ‘Koryfeusz’ awards in Warsaw, along with the composer Pawel Mykietyn for ‘personality of the year’, while the conductor Stanisław Skrowacewzki was honoured for his lifetime achievement.  To bring it full circle, Skrowaczewski conducted in the new hall last November.)

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At the reception after the concert in 1993, there was a surprise announcement from the then MD of the Polish Music Publishers, PWM.  PWM had imaginatively commissioned students of the School of Fine Arts in Zakopane, in the Tatra Mountains, to sculpt 25 wooden covers for commemorative copies of Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. I was one of the lucky recipients of this unusual gift and my no.4 is a treasured memento.  Five years later, for his 65th birthday, Górecki invited me, along with Susan Bamert from Boosey & Hawkes, to celebrate the occasion in snowy Zakopane, in a wooden chałupa (a traditional cottage), with much wining, dining, singing and dancing – and no symphonies.  But I haven’t dug those photos out yet.

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• PWM 70 Supplement


The last (and only other) time that I was published in Tygodnik Powszechny (Catholic Weekly) was in the commemorative issue marking the death of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki five years ago.  I’ve just been alerted to a new supplement dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Polish Music Publishers PWM.  Its anniversary concert next Wednesday includes the world premiere of Górecki’s Sanctus Adalbertus (1997) and Tygodnik Powszechny have evidently been given the relevant part of my programme note.  It is the final item in the supplement, which includes articles by Małgorzata Gąsiorowska (the Bacewicz expert and author of a new book on PWM), Beata Bolesławska-Lewandowska (the author of books on Górecki and Panufnik) and the music critic and cultural historian Jakub Puchalski.

Tygodnik Powszechny PWM 70 supplement October 2015

• Górecki World Premiere, Kraków

Death of Adalbertus, Gniezno CathedralA week today – on Wednesday 4 November 2015 – the last of Gorecki’s major posthumous works will receive its first performance, in Kraków.  It is Sanctus Adalbertus, an hour-long ‘oratorio’ composed eighteen years ago to mark the assassination of St Adalbert in 997 (illustration above from the doors of Gniezno cathedral).  Its projected premiere in 1997 fell through and he used part of the score for the final movement of Salve, sidus Polonorum (2000).  This first performance follows the world premieres last year in London and Warsaw of Symphony no.4 (2006) and Kyrie (2005). The second performance will take place a week later, in Gorecki’s home city Katowice, on the eve of the fifth anniversary of his death.

Kraków is awash with posters for the concert, which also marks 70 years of PWM, the music publishers to whom anyone interested in Polish music owes a huge debt of gratitude.  Sadly, I can’t be there for this double celebration, but I was asked to write the programme note, which may be accessed here.


• Panufnik Revised: 2. Nocturne & Lullaby

For the second of five articles on Panufnik’s revisions made after he had fled to England in 1954, I have combined two works from 1947: Nocturne and Lullaby.  They remain two of his most enduring compositions, and Lullaby in particular has recently won a new following.  Nocturne is also a special piece and was subsequently held up by commentators as a pre-echo of the sonoristic developments in Polish music in the 1960s.  Curiously, Panufnik chose in his revisions of both pieces to cut out textural features that might have cemented this link to younger composers back in his native Poland.

Click here for the link to the article on Nocturne & Lullaby.

P.S.  I have not yet discovered why Nocturne was first published as Notturno.  Does anyone out there know?

• Panufnik Revised: 1. Tragic Overture

With last year’s Panufnik centenary and this year’s imminent publications – an expanded reissue of his autobiography (Toccata Press) and the English-language translation of Beata Bolesławska’s 2001 monograph (Ashgate) – it seems a good time to share a series of articles that I hope will shed new light on Panufnik’s music from his Polish period.

Panufnik was an inveterate reviser, but the post-war decade was also conditioned by his situation in communist Poland, especially by his decision to leave in 1954 and settle in England.  (Last October I put up a couple of posts and related articles on this latter topic: Panufnik’s Escape (1) ☛ article: Berne Legation Memo // Panufnik’s Escape (2)article: Scarlett’s Memoir.)

While I was preparing a conference paper for a Panufnik conference in Warsaw last September (‘Rustic – Heroic – Elegiac.  Panufnik and his Revisions’), I became aware of undiscussed processes of revision lying behind the compositions that were published first by PWM in Kraków and subsequently by Boosey & Hawkes in London.  I followed this up by examining autograph scores in Kraków.

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This little series will include just the orchestral pieces, which will be covered in chronological order over the coming weeks.  (Last December I also wrote about his first mass songs from 1948: Panufnik: One Song or Three? ☛ article: Panufnik’s 3 Songs for the PZPR.)  Future posts and articles will be on Nocturne, Lullaby, Sinfonia rustica, Symphony of Peace/Sinfonia elegiaca and Heroic Overture.  The first article is on Tragic Overture, his earliest surviving orchestral composition and one which is particularly interesting for his attention to graphic detail as it was prepared for publication.

• WL100/68: Nie oczekuję dziś nikogo (1959)

While I was in Warsaw last week, I popped into an antykwariat which specialises in journals and periodicals of all types.  It also has a comparatively desultory music section, but occasionally there are interesting things to find.  This time, among large-format song sheets (mainly inter-war German popular songs), I found a much flimsier and tinier item (it measured just 15cm x 21cm): the first publication (February 1963) of one of Lutosławski’s dance songs published under his pseudonym, ‘Derwid’.

NODN cover 1963

Nie oczekuję dziś nikogo (I’m not expecting anyone today, 1959, words by Zbigniew Kaszkur and Zbirniew Zapert) was Derwid’s most popular song (he wrote some three dozen c.1957-64).  Its melody first appeared on 3 January 1960 in Radio i Świat (Radio and the World), the Polish equivalent of the British Radio Times.  The cover of this mini song sheet features the singer Rena Rolska, then in her late twenties.  I did quite a bit of research on the Derwid songs in 1994 (‘Your Song is Mine’, The Musical Times, 1830 (August 1995), 403-10) and discovered that the refrain of this ‘slowfox’ (with its C minor walking bass and sharpened 4th) bore a striking resemblance to the opening of one of Lutosławski’s politicised mass songs, Najpiękniejszy sen (The most beautiful dream, 1950).  I’m sure the similarities were coincidental!

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Rolska recorded Nie oczekuję dziś nikogo in 1960, with the Polish Radio Dance Orchestra conducted by Ryszard Damrosz:

• WL100/63: Mi-parti, **22 October 1976

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One of the strangest aspects of this centenary year, and indeed of the performance and recording history since Lutosławski’s death almost twenty years ago, is the neglect of some works which during his lifetime were held in high regard.  The most notorious injustice relates to Livre pour orchestre, which I will return to in a later post.  Another example is Mi-parti, which Lutosławski wrote in 1975-76 and whose premiere he conducted with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam 37 years ago today.

During his lifetime, Lutosławski was the person who conducted Mi-parti most frequently.  His domination of its performance history is also true of many of his other orchestral and concertante works, which made for composer-authentic concert experiences but in the long run delayed much of his music’s entry into the repertoire of a broad range of career conductors.

As to professional concert performances over the past ten years, there have been only seven (excluding immediate repeat concerts), including just three in 2013, the third and most recent being by the Berlin Staatskapelle under Daniel Barenboim.  There have been five commercial recordings:

• WOSPR (NOSPR)/Lutosławski (EMI, rec. 1976; LP, reissued several times on CD)
• Prague Radio SO/Jacek Kasprzyk (Supraphon, rec. 1980; LP only)
• BBC PO/Yan Pascal Tortelier (Chandos, rec. 1993; CD)
• WOSPR (NOSPR)/Antoni Wit (Naxos, rec. 1997; CD)
• Warsaw National PO/Antoni Wit (CD Accord, rec. 2002; CD).

Chandos, with its magnificent 5-CD set of Lutosławski’s music, has inexplicably left out both works.  At least the Opera Omnia CD series by the Wrocław PO under Jacek Kaspszyk and Benjamin Shwartz will release both pieces in the near future.  On YouTube, Mi-parti has the thinnest of presences, with Lutosławski’s own recording accompanied by photographic artwork by the uploader: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laFCR96RPO4.

I would be very interested to hear what readers have to say about Mi-parti.  For me, it has a magical first section (although Lutosławski sometimes expressed doubts about it) whose essential idea he seems to have had in mind when composing the first section of the Fourth Symphony sixteen years later.  The second section is one of his most pulsating, the climax interrupted by trumpets (echoes of the Cello Concerto).  The coda is especially haunting. Perhaps the trouble is that it isn’t a ‘symphony’ so, like Livre, it is being left on the sidelines in the age of convenience programming.


When I was researching in Lutosławski’s house in 2002, I came across many fascinating items: marked-up books, his conducting scores, a folder of folk-tune materials and a particular folder headed “ŚCIĄGACZKI” (Crib Sheets). Inside were separate pieces of MS paper connected with his work on LivreLes espaces du sommeilMi-parti and the Fourth Symphony.  Here are the two relating to Mi-parti.  They come from the second, fast section (apologies for the slightly fuzzy images).

The first is a ‘short-score’ reduction for the first eight bars of fig. 28.  The two lines represent the trumpets and trombones, whose individual purchase on the melodic line is fully worked out in the score (07’59”-08’09” on the accompanying YouTube video).

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The second is more sketchy.  Indeed, it consists only of a (sometimes biforcated) rhythmic line.  It tracks the score from fig. 29 (i.e., two bars after the first ‘crib sheet’ stops short) as far as the third bar of fig. 35.  Although at times the link between sketch and score may seem tenuous, the sketch is consistent with the final product even if Lutosławski does use notational shorthand at times and darts from one instrumental group to another.  Effectively, this ‘crib sheet’ presents the main rhythmic template, an aide-mémoire as he worked the idea up into this extrovert, hocketing passage that leads shortly afterwards to the work’s climax (08’12”-09’09” on the accompanying YouTube video).

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• WL100/47: Folk Melodies, **22 July 1946

It has been assumed for some time that Lutosławski’s collection of little teaching pieces, Melodie ludowe (Folk Melodies, 1945), was premiered in Kraków in 1947.  A contrary date now also has currency: 22 July 1946.*  There is agreement on the pianist, however (Zbigniew Drzewiecki).  Folk Melodies was among the first of Lutosławski’s pieces to be published (1947), preceded by the Two Studies for piano which came out in 1946.  Although these ‘easy pieces’ were recorded on LP by Andrzej Dutkiewicz (1975) and Andrzej Ratusiński (1982), it appears that they have yet to be issued digitally as the complete set of twelve.  The score uses Polish and French (then the default foreign language) and there’s something rather charming about the French translation of the tunes.**  At this immediate post-war stage, PWM (Polish Music Publishers) showed a certain design flair that was soon replaced by plain brown covers.

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For non-Poles, the date of 22 July may mean little, but from 1945 onwards it was used to celebrate the symbolic foundation of the Peoples’ Republic of Poland (more on this in the next posts).  It is not known whether the event at which Lutosławski’s Folk Melodies was premiered formed part of the 1946 celebrations, but it seems unlikely that it was mere coincidence.

* While most books on Lutosławski give 1947 (including monographs by Steven Stucky, Charles Bodman Rae and Jadwiga Paja-Stach), Martina Homma, Stanisław Będkowski & Stanisław Hrabia and the Witold Lutosławski Society in Warsaw give the earlier date.
1. Ach, mój Jasieńko – Oh, mon Jeannot (Oh, my Johnny)
2. Hej, od Krakowa jadę – Je pars de Cracovie (Hey, I come from Kraków)
3. Jest drożyna, jest – Sur le chemin du village (There is a path, there is)
4. Pastereczka – La bergère (The little shepherdess)
5. Na jabłoni jabłko wisi – Une pomme au pommier (An apple hangs on the apple tree)
6. Od Sieradza płynie rzeka – La rivière de Sieradz (A river flows from Sieradz)
7. Panie Michale – Compère Michel (Master Michael)
8. W polu lipeńka – Le tilleul dans le champ (The lime tree in the field)
9. Zalotny – Le prétendant (Flirting)
10. Gaik – Le jars (The grove)
11. Gąsior – L’oie (The gander)
12. Rektor – Le maître d’école (The schoolmaster)

• 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

• WL100/42: 33 ‘Derwid’ songs published

The Polish Music Publisher PWM has just issued a press release about its two new volumes of songs by Lutosławski that he wrote under the closely guarded pseudonym ‘Derwid’.  He composed these popular dance songs – foxtrots, tangos, waltzes, etc. – in 1957-63, although the band arrangements were done in-house at Polish Radio.  Many of the songs’ melodies were published in Polish Radio’s weekly listings magazine Radio i Świat (Radio and the World) at the time.  PWM published five of Lutosławski’s piano versions as separate numbers in 1957-60 and over twenty through its fortnightly light-music imprint Śpiewamy i Tańczymy (Let’s Sing and Dance) in 1957-64.  

When I first came across this little treasure trove of largely forgotten music in 1994, I was the only person who had any interest in it.  The songs were regarded by the Polish musical establishment as of negligible interest musically or historically.  Moreover, I was told on several occasions by Polish colleagues that it would be unseemly for anyone in Poland to do even the most basic research into them or into Lutosławski’s other songs, especially his mass songs of the early 1950s.  Fortunately, that situation has long been superseded by a more curious attitude, to the extent that in a month or so’s time a new CD will be released of some of the Derwid songs in edgy and humorous interpretations by Agata Zubel, Andrzej Bauer and Cezary Duchnowski (see my post from 26 March 2013, Zubel Zings!).

Here is a list of the contents of the two volumes, which seem to present the songs in roughly chronological order. There are corrections and both additions to and omissions from the list I made in 1994 (this may be found at the end of my article, ‘Your Song is Mine’, The Musical Times, 1830 (August 1995), 403-10).  I had erroneously equated Zakochać się w wietrze (To fall in love with the wind) with Serce na wietrze (Heart on the wind).  But I also named two songs which are not in this new collection, even though they were published by PWM at the time: Kiosk na Powiślu (Kiosk by the Vistula) / Kiosk inwalidy (Kiosk of the invalid) and Wędrowny jubiler (The wandering jeweller).  Three further, unpublished songs were subsequently found amongst Lutosławski’s manuscripts at the Paul Sacher Stiftung in Basle – Dom rodzinny (Family home), which is not in this new collection, and two which are – Podlotek (Flapper) and Twoje imieniny (Your name-day).  

In Poland, each volume costs 35 złoty (= c. £7); outside Poland the price rises to 19.95 euros (c. £17).  It’s not obvious why there should be such a huge difference in price.  Here is the link to the relevant English-language page of PWM’s online shop.  You might try going on to the Polish page by clicking on the Polish flag and seeing if you can pay by ordering in złoty!

Volume 1 (19 songs)

Derwid_ok?adka zeszyt 1Milczące serce (Silent heart)
Czarownica (The witch)
Daleka podróż (Distant journey)
Cyrk jedzie (The circus is coming)
Zielony berecik (The little green beret)
Szczęśliwy traf (Good fortune)
Zakochać się w wietrze (To fall in love with the wind)
Miłość i świat (Love and the world)
Tabu (Taboo)
Kapitańska ballada (The captain’s ballad)
W lunaparku (At the funfair) / Nie kupiłeś mnie na własność (You do not own me)
Telimena (Telimena)
Warszawski dorożkarz (The Warsaw cabman)
Nie oczekuję dziś nikogo (I am not expecting anyone today)
Serce na wietrze (Heart on the wind)
Filipince nudno (The bored Filipina)
Złote pantofelki (Golden shoes)
Po co śpiewać piosenki (Why song songs)
Moje ptaki (My birds)

Volume 2 (14 songs)

derwid_ok?adka zeszyt 2Rupiecie (Odds and ends) / Wędrowny czas (Wandering time)
Na co czekasz (What are you waiting for)
I cóż to teraz będzie (What is going to happen now)
Z lat dziecinnych (From childhood)
Jeden przystanek dalej (One stop further)
Znajdziesz mnie wszędzie (You will find me everywhere)
Nie dla nas już (No longer for us)
Nie chcę z tobą się umawiać (I do not want to date you anymore)
Podlotek (Flapper)
Twoje imieniny (Your name-day)
Plamy na słońcu (Sunspots)
Tylko to słowo (Only this word)
Jak zdobywać serduszka (How to win hearts)
W pustym pokoju (In the empty room)

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