• Panufnik: One Song or Three?

343px-POL_PZPR_logo.svgLast month I spent a few days researching Panufnik manuscripts in Kraków’s Jagiellonian Library.  I was interested mainly in his working versions of major pieces from the 1940s and 50s; I will write on these shortly.  Another set of manuscripts also caught my eye.  These were of three songs written for a competition celebrating the imminent formation in December 1948 of the Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR).  Although Panufnik professed in his autobiography to writing just one song, and that under duress, it has been known for a while, from other archives, that like five of his colleagues he wrote music to all three set texts.  But the existence of these fair copies in his own hand has not been so well-known.  I have written a short article exploring these manuscripts and their history.

• Panufnik’s ‘Silesian Hammers’

Leafing through Trybuna Robotnicza (Workers’ Tribune) as one does – I came across an entry yesterday that brought me up sharp.  Trybuna Robotnicza was the daily newspaper in Silesia of Poland’s United Workers’ Party PZPR between 1945 and 1990.  Its pages in the late 1940s and early 50s are filled with the customary eulogies to Stalin, Lenin, Bierut, to peace, culture for the masses, etc..  I’ve been looking for musical items, of which there are precious few.  Most of these centre on workers’ ensembles, opera and ballet, and most of all on the Silesian Philharmonic.

Occasionally, national musical items appear, and I suspect that this little column published on 27 April 1950 was syndicated from Warsaw, and it therefore may well have appeared elsewhere in the Polish press at that time.  It’s a list of composers with pieces they have proposed, are still writing or have completed as Labour Day approaches.  Top of the list is Andrzej Panufnik, with a work whose title is not only completely new to me but I suspect will be new to everyone else.

Silesian Hammers is enough to make the mind boggle.  What magnificent industrial heroism did Panufnik intend to evoke?  It seems highly improbable that the score was ever begun, let alone completed, but one never knows.  One possibility, which I have yet to explore fully, is that Silesian Hammers may have been an intermediate stage in the convoluted history of Panufnik’s Heroic Overture, which was first heard under this title at the end of 1950.  Some of the other composers are familiar, although some of their pieces, like Silesian Hammers, may never have materialised.

AP TR 1950 27.04.50 115 p.6 Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 10.52.37
New Musical Works for 1 May

Numerous Polish composers, wanting to mark the approaching Labour Day, have undertaken to write or complete by the First of May a range of new mass songs, cantatas, symphonic pieces etc..

Andrzej Panufnik – has proposed an orchestral piece called Silesian Hammers.
Grażyna Bacewicz undertook to complete a Suite of Polish Dances for symphony orchestra.  She has fulfilled her compositional commitment ahead of schedule.
Stanisław Skrowaczewski has completed a cantata called A Word about Stalin [this almost certainly became the Cantata about Peace (1951)].
Alfred Gradstein has proposed two youth songs.
Stanisław Kazuro has undertaken to orchestrate his 128-page score of Polish Rhapsody.
Jerzy Sokorski is composing a solo song called Song about the Coal Basin.
Aleksander Wielhorski has proposed a youth song called Heroes of Labour.
Apolinary Szeluto has finished his May Song to words by Orłow.
Henryk Swolkień is writing for 1 May a song for solo, choir and orchestra to words by Tadeusz Kubiak.
Stanisław Prószyński has committed to composing a song for ZSCh [Zwiążek Samopomocy Chłopskiej – Union of Peasant Self-Help] called Shared Harvest.
Jan Krenz has proposed a cantata to a text by K. I. Gałczyński [Conversation of Two Cities (1950)].
Jerzy Młodziejowski is finishing a cantata called Hey, Hammers, To Work!.

In addition, similar commitments for 1 May have been made by many other composers.

• Panufnik’s Escape (2)

Scarlett Panufnik vanished from public attention once she and Andrzej Panufnik divorced in 1958.  Andrzej Panufnik was her fourth husband – they fell for one another in 1950 during her honeymoon with her third husband – and she was by all accounts vivacious, seductive and socially ambitious.  Of Irish stock, she found herself in Poland after the Second World War and cut quite a figure in Warsaw during the years prior to her departure for London in March 1954.


Scarlett and Andrzej Panufnik, London, 1956. Another shot from the same session provides the frontispiece for ‘Out of the City of Fear’.

Panufnik did manage to join her in July 1954 and two years later she wrote an account of her time in Poland in the autobiographical Out of the City of Fear (1956).  The book has a breathlessness bordering on the sensational, and it has its shortcomings and lacunae (one of which is failing to mention her second and third marriages).  It soon disappeared from view – times had moved on.  But its portrayal of life in post-war Poland does have socio-historical value, and much of it reads more convincingly than it has often been given credit for.  This is especially true of the final four chapters.  These constitute her diary of the four months that she spent alone in London while waiting on tenterhooks for her husband to find a way to leave Poland and seek asylum in the UK.  Her part in preparing for his escape and keeping everything under wraps was invaluable.

Panufnik acknowledged her role in his 1987 autobiography, Composing Myself, and it is through this prism that she has since been viewed.  Two recent articles in Polish have broadened the perspective, even if some of their conclusions are debatable.  Danuta Gwizdalanka’s ‘Ucieczka z państwa grozy‘ (Escape from the State of Terror), Ruch Muzyczny (23 August 2014), covers some of the same ground as my two articles on Panufnik’s escape but goes on to examine its aftermath.  Magdalena Grochowska’s Przynęta i obroża Andrzeja Panufnika (Andrzej Panufnik.  Bait and Collar), Gazeta Wyborcza (25 October 2014), takes an even more critical and well-referenced look at Panufnik in the post-war period.

The final chapter of Out of the City of Fear covers the five days from 10-14 July 1954 once Scarlett Panufnik received a phone call from her husband to say that he had reached Zürich.  If all went to plan, he would be in London in a few days’ time.  I have based my article linked to this post, Panufnik’s Escape (2): Scarlett’s Memoir, on the relevant excerpts from Chapter 17 and set their chronology between that of the Polish Legation (1954) and Andrzej Panufnik’s account in his autobiography.  The three versions make for interesting reading, even if they do raise more questions than they answer.

• Panufnik’s Escape (1)

In the annals of defections from the Polish People’s Republic in the 1950s, that of Andrzej Panufnik in July 1954 is one of the least likely.  He was not a fighter pilot like Franciszek Jarecki or Zdzisław Jazwiński, who flew MiG jets to Denmark in March and May 1953.  Nor was Panufnik a senior figure in Urząd Bezpieczeństwa (Poland’s Department of Security) like Lieutenant-General Józef Światło, who defected via the US military mission in West Berlin while on a visit to East Berlin in November 1953.

Nor was Panufnik living abroad when he defected, unlike the writer Czesław Miłosz, who was the Polish Cultural Attaché in Paris when he decided to seek political asylum in France in 1951.  There were some Polish composers who were living abroad, especially in France.  One of these, Roman Palester, had left Poland a couple of years after the Second World War, when it was still possible to do so.  He effectively emigrated fully in 1949, moving to Munich in 1952, where he worked for Radio Free Europe.

Act-alone defectors such as these had a relatively immediate, if sometimes high-risk transition from communist Poland to the capitalist West.  Panufnik’s escape, however, was prolonged (six days) and he was totally dependent on others for its successful outcome.  In effect, he did not spring free; he was sprung.

Scan 5The best-known narrative of Panufnik’s flight from Warsaw to London via Zürich comes from his autobiography, Composing Myself, published 33 years later in 1987.  His fear and nervousness are vividly recalled, but how accurate is his account?  In the first of two related articles, posted today, I compare his story with an official one-page Polish memo written in Switzerland the day after Panufnik landed at Heathrow.

Read on!

• Letters from 1950

Reproduced here for the first time is a letter dated 21 April 1950.  It is from Andrzej Panufnik, who expresses his desire to write a Revolutionary Symphony.  Not heard of this work before?  That’s not surprising, because he never wrote it. Instead, the project transmuted itself into his Symphony of Peace (1951).

Scan 4The source of this letter, and of letters from over 50 other Polish composers, is a file I stumbled across in a Polish archive, half a century after it was sent.  I have written about Panufnik’s letter and Lutosławski’s before, and my article on this collection was published online by the Polish Music Center in Los Angeles in 2002.  I have now republished it here – File 750: Composers, Politics and the Festival of Polish Music (1951) – alongside updated appendices.

These letters from 1950 provide an insider’s view of how composers navigated the system of commissions and funding at the height of socialist realism, what they had already written that they deemed suitable, what they wanted to write, how they justified their proposals, how much they thought they were worth financially, and how much the Minister of Culture rated them.  There are further research questions to be asked of this primary material, not least of which is the fact that the majority of the proposed compositions never materialised.  Here, for starters, is my initial survey from 2002.

• New Book: Polish Music since 1945

A new collection of essays on post-war Polish music has just been published by Musica Iagellonica in Kraków.  It is edited by Eva Mantzourani, who convened a conference four years ago, at the Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent, UK, under the title ‘Polish Music since 1945’.  Scholars young and old came from far and wide, and this volume of 31 essays is the result of those very stimulating days in May 2009.  It may be purchased at the Musica Iagellonica online shop for 85zł (c. £17/$27, plus postage).  The list of contents is given below.

Polish Music since 1945
PART I: Polish Composers in Context

• Charles Bodman Rae: ‘The Polish musical psyche: From the Second Republic into the Third’
• Adrian Thomas: ‘Locating Polish music’
• Marek Podhajski: ‘Polish music, Polish composers 1918–2007’
• Ruth Seehaber: ‘The construction of a “Polish School”: Self-perception and foreign perception of Polish contemporary music between 1956 and 1976’
• Bogumiła Mika: ‘Between “a game with a listener” and a symbolic referral to tradition: Musical quotation in Polish art music since 1945’
• David Tompkins: ‘The Stalinist state as patron: Composers and commissioning in early Cold War Poland’
• Maja Trochimczyk: ‘1968 – Operation Danube, ISCM, and Polish music’
• Alicja Jarzębska: ‘Polish music and the problem of the cultural Cold War’
• Niall O’Loughlin: ‘Panufnik and Polishness’
• Violetta Kostka: ‘Tadeusz Kassern: Music from his American period’
• Barbara Literska: ‘The “commissioned” works of Tadeusz Baird’
• Katarzyna Naliwajek-Mazurek: ‘Paweł Szymański and the multiple narrative in music’
• Marta Szoka: ‘The music of Paweł Mykietyn: In between pastiche, deconstruction and the great narration’
• Caroline Rae: ‘Dutilleux and Lutosławski: Franco-Polish connections’

PART II: Analytical perspectives

• Beata Bolesławska-Lewandowska: ‘Lutosławski’s Second Symphony (1967) and Górecki’s Second Symphony (1972): Two concepts of the bipartite late avant-garde symphony’
• Teresa Malecka: ‘Górecki’s creative journeys between nature and culture: Around the Copernican Symphony
• Stanisław Będkowski: ‘Wojciech Kilar’s last symphonies: Modification of a paradigm’
• Zbigniew Skowron: ‘Lutosławski at the crossroads. Three Postludes: A reappraisal of their style and compositional technique’
• Suyun Tang: ‘Lutosławski’s tonal architecture as defined by a Schenkerian tonal model’
• Aleksandra Bartos: ‘Witold Lutosławski’s Portrait of Woman 2000: New aspects of his compositional technique’
• Amanda Bayley and Neil Heyde: ‘Interpreting indeterminacy: Filming Lutosławski’s String Quartet’
• Cindy Bylander: ‘Back to the future: The interaction of form and motive in Penderecki’s middle symphonies’
• Regina Chłopicka: ‘The St Luke Passion and the Eighth Symphony Lieder der Vergänglichkeit: The key works in Penderecki’s oeuvre’
• Tim Rutherford-Johnson: ‘Theological aspects to Penderecki’s St Luke Passion
• Agnieszka Draus: ‘Infernal and celestial circles in Paradise Lost: Milton and Penderecki’
• Tomasz Kienik: ‘The musical language of Kazimierz Serocki: Analytical aspects of his musical output’
• Iwona Lindstedt: ‘Sonoristics and serial thinking: On the distinctive features of works from the “Polish School”’.
• Anna Masłowiec: ‘The sonoristic score: Inside and outside’

PART III: Polish jazz, film music and the marketplace

• Zbigniew Granat: ‘Underground roads to new music: Walls, tunnels, and the emergence of jazz avant-garde in 1960s Poland’
• Nicholas Reyland: ‘Experiencing agapē: Preisner and Kieślowski’s Three Colours: Blue
• Renata Pasternak-Mazur: ‘Sacropolo or Sacrum in the marketplace’

• WL100/59: Lutosławski in Moscow (1951)

In 1951, Witold Lutosławski was a (no doubt reluctant) member of an official delegation from Poland to the Soviet Union, visiting Moscow, Rostov and Leningrad over the space of three weeks, all in the cause of ‘Polish-Russian Friendship’.   Quite apart from his dismay at the blatantly political role of the visit, a large part of his reluctance to be part of this 22-strong group must have stemmed from his childhood memories of his father’s fate: Lutosławski saw him briefly in prison before both his father and his uncle were shot by Bolshevik forces in 1918 (see my earlier post: WL100/55: Death of Lutosławski’s father).

Lutosławski subsequently reported on his visit for the Polish journal Muzyka 2 (November 1951, no.11 (20), pp.6-7). But his subject matter is remarkably distanced from standard politicised propaganda about the USSR.   Even so, its unctuous tone is so exaggerated that one wonders who could have genuinely believed that Lutosławski’s heart was in it.  Indeed, it is more than likely that it was edited by a political minder or even written by one and added to by Lutosławski.  On the eve of my first visit to Moscow – to its Conservatoire, among other places – I thought of his account, written under considerably more duress than affects today’s visitors to Russia, who cannot be unaware, however, of its government’s perpetuation, even expansion of restrictions on personal freedoms and self-expression.

Homma 1993 1

This article is reprinted in Witold Lutosławski. O muzyce. Pisma i wypowiedzi, ed. Zbigniew Skowron (Warsaw, 2011, pp.365-7), but it is not included in the preceding English version Lutosławski on Music (Lanham MD, 2007).  The translation here is my own.

A few impressions from a trip to the USSR
Kilka wrażen z podróży do ZSRR

When one goes down into the Moscow metro for the first time, one succumbs to feelings of awe and admiration: we are in a palace.  Marble, sculptures, mosaics, intricate chandeliers, wall lamps, all sparkling clean, all gleaming with light.  Each glimpsed station delights the eye with its novelty, different from the one before.  Like rooms in a grand residence, individual metro stations make up a precisely worked-out, artistic whole.  The splendid Ploshchad Revolyutsii, filled with bronze figures, the modest Mayakovskaya, all graceful, finished steel curves, and much, much more.

Gdy po raz pierwszy zejdziemy do metra moskiewskiego, ulegniemy uczuciom zdumienia i podziwu: jesteśmy w pałacu.  Marmury, rzeźby, mozaiki, kunsztowne żyrandole, kinkiety, wszystko lśni czystością, jarzy się światłem.  Każda ujrzana stacja raduje oczy swą nowością, niepodobna jest do poprzedniej.  Jak sale w pysznej rezydencji, stacje metra stanowią – każda osobno – starannie wypracowaną, artystyczną całość.  Wspaniała, wypełniona postaciami z brązu stacja Rewolucji, skromna, cała we wdzięcznych, stalą wykończonych łukach Majakowskaja i wiele, wiele innych.

We are awed in that first moment.  Our habits and memories from other European cities still make us associate the idea of an underground station with some sort of huge, dirty bathroom.  Our amazement recedes, however, after a moment’s reflection.  The metro is still a mechanism for millions of people, so what is odd about so much work and artistic finish being put into its construction?  Is it not more amazing – in the negative sense of the word – that in recent times palaces have been built for the daily use of just one family?  While works of art, these buildings are also evidence of unbounded self-centredness.  In the Soviet Union, they are today admittedly converted into museums, accessible to every citizen, though they are not daily at anyone’s disposal.  The only true palace built for millions of people is the Moscow metro.  Every citizen in this capital of several million feels at home in this palace; not a day goes by when he does not spend a few moments in it and can rejoice at will in its splendour.

Zdumiewamy się tym w pierwszym momencie.  Przyzwyczajenia nasze i wspomnienia z innych miast Europy każą nam przecież kojarzyć pojęcia stacji kolei podziemnej z jakąś olbrzymią, brudnawą łazienką.  Zdumienie nasze ustępuje jednak po chwili zastanowienia.  Metro jest przecież urządzeniem dla milionów ludzi, cóż więc dziwnego, że w jego budowę włożono tu tyle pracy i artystycznego wykończenia?  Czyż nie bardziej zdumiewającym – w ujemnym sensie tego słowa – jest fakt, że w minionych czasach budowano pałace, mające na co dzień służyć zaledwie jednej rodzinie?  Będąc dziełami sztuki, były te budowle jednocześnie świadectwem bezgranicznego egocentryzmu.  W Związku Radzieckim są dziś one wprawdzie zamienione na muzea, są dostępne każdemu obywatelowi, nikomu jednak na co dzień nie służą.  Prawdziwym pałacem zbudowanym dla milionów ludzi jest dopiero metro moskiewskie.  Każdy obywatel kilkumilionowej stolicy czuje się w tym pałacu u siebie, nie ma dnia, aby nie spędził w nim kilku chwil, może do woli radować się jego wspaniałością.


The Moscow Conservatoire, named after Tchaikovsky, is an academy of great, universal traditions.  Its founder was Anton Rubinstein, one of its professors Tchaikovsky.  From the walls of this academy have come great artists, whose names belong to the first rank in the world.  Today, the Moscow Conservatoire is the leading music academy in the Soviet Union.  Young people from the many nations of the USSR are educated there.  The great traditions are alive in every sense and year on year are enriched by new talents and new pedagogical achievements at the highest level.

Konserwatorium moskiewskie imienia Czajkowskiego jest uczelnią o wielkich, światowych tradycjach.  Założycielem jego był Antoni Rubinstein, jednym z profesorów – Czajkowski.  Z murów tej uczelni wyszło wielu artystów, których nazwiska należą do pierwszych w świecie.  Dziś konserwatorium moskiewskie jest przodującą uczelnią muzyczną Związku Radzieckiego.  Kształci się w nim młodzież wielu narodów ZSRR.  Wielkie tradycje żyją w całej pełni i są z roku na rok wzbogacane nowymi talentami i nowymi osiągnięciami pedagogicznymi na najwyższym poziomie.

We were at the Conservatoire to become acquainted with the work of students in the composition class.  For this unique opportunity we are indebted to the exceptional kindness of the director of the conservatoire, [Alexandra] Sveshnikova, as well as Professors [Yuri] Shaporin and [Anatoly] Bogatyrev, who at our request specially organised a little compositional event.  With passionate interest we hear this improvised concert.  Before us a group of students, composers and performers, representatives of various nationalities: besides the Russians there are also citizens of Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan and the Mari El Republic.

Znaleźliśmy się w konserwatorium, aby zapoznać się z twórczością studentów klas kompozycji.  Wyjątkową tę okazję mamy do zawdzięczenia niezwykłej uprzejmości dyrektora konserwatorium Swiesznikowa, jak również profesorów Szaporina i Bogatyriowa, którzy na naszą prośbę specjalnie zorganizowali małą produkcję kompozytorską.  Z żarliwym zainteresowaniem słuchamy tego zaimprowizowanego koncertu.  Przed nami grupa studentów, kompozytorów i wykonawców, przedstawicieli różnych narodowości: oprócz Rosjan są to obywatele Gruzji, Armenii, Kazachstanu, Republiki Maryjskiej.

We will try to sketch the common features of the pieces being performed.  The words that immediately suggest themselves are clarity of thought, simplicity and melodiousness.  A lack of any excesses or technical displays. Compositional technique is used here as a means of expression.  None of the young composers has given in to the temptation to show first and foremost what he knows.  He always shows what he has to say.  This displays great maturity, a developed sense of responsibility.  Tremendous maturity is also met in the instrumental aspects of the works.  Each of the compositions that we hear sounds instrumentally accurate and idiomatic, and not infrequently is a testament to real artistry in its field (e.g. the Piano Toccata by [Andrei] Eshpai or the Cello Suite by [Sulkhan] Tsintsadze).  The performing side of the event we heard was of the highest level.  Some students are fully mature, first-rate artists.  Among them, a star of the first magnitude: the cellist [Daniil] Shafran.

Spróbujemy naszkicować wspólne cechy wykonanych utworów. Słowa, które od razu same się narzucają, to jasność myśli, prostota, melodyjność.  Brak wszelkich przerostów i popisów technicznych.  Technika kompozytorska służy tu jako środek wyrazu.  Żaden z młodych kompozytorów nie ulega pokusie, aby pokazywać przede wszystkim to, co umie.  Zawsze pokazuje to, co ma do powiedzenia.  W tym widać dużą dojrzałość, rozwinięte poczucie odpowiedzialność.  Ogromną dojrzałość widzi się również w stronie instrumentalnej utworów.  Każda z usłyszanych kompozycji uderza trafnością i swobodą w użyciu instrumentu, nierzadko zaś jest świadectwem prawdziwego kunsztu w tej dziedzinie (np. Toccata fortepianowa Eszpaja czy Suita wiolonczelowa Cyncadze).  Strona wykonawcza usłyszanej produkcji stała na najwyższym poziomie.  Niektórzy studenci to zupełnie dojrzali, świetni artyści.  Wśród nich – gwiazda pierwszej wielkości: wiolonczelista Szafran.


Ruza is a village 120 kilometres distant from Moscow.  The location of the village is exceptionally beautiful: mixed forest, traversed by narrow paths, on the upper Moscow River, a small bathing area, a landing stage.  In the woods, at a few hundred metres, are one-, two- and three-room cottages, wooden or brick, fully furnished, with a piano.  In these cottages work Soviet composers.  Each a member of the Composers’ Union, and if he has a plan to devote several months to working on his own composition, he is directed to one such artistic colony.  He finds everything here that is essential for work: peace, quiet, delightful nature, without all the troubles of everyday life.  After work he can relax in the fresh air, play sports like tennis, volleyball, swimming, rowing, skiing in winter, skating, etc..  If he wants, he can spend time in Ruza with his family.

Ruza jest to miejscowość odległa o 120 kilometrów od Moskwy.  Położenie miejscowości jest wyjątkowo piękne: las mieszany, poprzecinany wąskimi dróżkami, niżej rzeka Moskwa, małe kąpielisko, przystań.  W lesie, co paręset metrów domek jedno-, dwu- lub trzypokojowy, drewniany lub murowany, kompletnie urządzony, z fortepianem.  W tych domkach pracują kompozytorzy radzieccy.  Każdy członek Związku Kompozytorów, jeśli ma zamiar poświęcić kilkumiesięczny okres wyłącznie na pracę nad swym dziełem, skierowywany jest do jednej z podobnych kolonii twórczych.  Znajduje tam wszystko, co mu jest niezbędne do pracy: spokój, ciszę, uroczą przyrodę, brak wszelkich kłopotów dnia codziennego.  Po pracy może wypocząć w zdrowym powietrzu, używać sportów, jak tenis, siatkówka, pływanie, wiosłowanie, zimą narty, ślizgawka itd.  Jeśli chce, może przebywać w Ruzie z rodziną.

We go to Ruza with the General Secretary of the Composers’ Union, [Tikhon] Khrennikov.  While taking a walk in the grounds, we visit composers at work in their cottages.  [Marian] Koval, busy with the instrumentation of a children’s opera [probably the second version of The Wolf and the Seven Kids (1951)], then [Aram] Khachaturian, working on his ballet Spartacus [(1954)].  We ate lunch together with all the residents of the colony.  We are welcomed in an atmosphere of uncommon sincerity and comradeship.  In conversations with Russian colleagues we have the chance to see that they are all full of enthusiasm for Ruza and the excellent conditions that are found there for their work.  From the examples of Ruza we are able to determine with our own eyes how much importance the Soviet authorities attach to art and how admirably they protect the creative endeavours of artists.

Do Ruzy jedziemy z sekretarzem generalnym Związku Kompozytorów Chrennikowem.  Odbywszy przechadzkę po terenie, odwiedzamy kompozytorów w ich domkach przy pracy.  Kowala, zajętego instrumentacją opery dla dzieci, następnie Chaczaturiana, pracującego nad baletem Spartakus.  Spożywamy wspólny obiad z wszystkimi mieszkańcami kolonii.  Jesteśmy przyjęci w atmosferze niezwykłej serdeczności i koleżeństwa.  W rozmowach z kolegami radzieckimi mamy możność przekonać się, że wszyscy oni są pełni entuzjazmu dla Ruzy i znakomitych warunków, jakie tam znajdują dla swej pracy.  Na przykładzie Ruzy i my mamy możność stwierdzić naocznie, jak wielką wagę przywiązuje władza radziecka do sztuki i jak wspaniałą opieką otacza twórczy wysiłek artystów.

• WL100/55: Death of Lutosławski’s Father

It is 95 years since Lutosławski’s father Józef and uncle Marian were shot dead in Russia: ‘In April 1918 they were arrested in Murmansk by the Bolsheviks, taken to Moscow and there charged with counter-revolutionary activities and the alleged forgery of secret diplomatic documents.  On 5 September of the same year, without a trial, the brothers were killed in a mass execution in Vshekh-Shvyatskoye, a village outside Moscow.  Five-year-old Witold visited his father in the Butyrki Prison just before the execution.’ (Witold Lutosławski. A Bio-Bibliography, 2001, 1-2).

A few days later, the news reached Warsaw.  The twice-daily Nowa Gazeta printed three items on Wednesday 11 September 1918, and I am very grateful to Elżbieta Szczepańska-Lange for sending me the front pages of both the morning and afternoon editions from that day.  The morning edition included a prominent funeral notice:

WL Nowa Gazeta 11.09.18 no.363

WL Nowa Gazeta obituary notice

The official communication of the loss in Moscow of our two distinguished countrymen, the brothers Marjan and Józef Lutosławski, has undoubtedly filled the whole of Polish society with absolute indignation, horror and grief.  Giving voice to this sentiment, the Office of the Civil Regency Council extends an invitation to the requiem mass for the repose of their souls, on Thursday 12 September at the Church of the Holy Cross at 11.30 a.m..

In the afternoon edition, there were two front-page items, the longer of which focused on the lives and careers of Marian and Józef, with a concluding paragraph on what was then known of the the circumstances of their deaths:

WL Nowa Gazeta account of lives+                                                          deaths

Obituary.  The Lutosławski brothers, who have died such a tragic death, were known in circles across our city. The late Marjan was born in 1871 in Drozdowo, in the Łomża district.  By profession an engineer, and settled in Warsaw, he developed energetic activities as both an engineer and an inventor, as well as in the field of social welfare.  From 1904, he played an active part in the work of the  National Democratic Party.  After the outbreak of war, he was a member of the Cent[ral] Cit[izens’] Com[mittee] and with it he went to Minsk and then to Moscow.  In 1916 he went to London, Paris and Italy, after which he returned to St Petersburg.
The late Marjan Lutosławski leaves a wife Marja (née Zielińska) and four children.
From his writings dedicated mostly to industrial-economic issues should be mentioned his major work, “Electric Current”.  He was also the author of the comprehensive handbook, “The Art of Conducting Debates”.
The late Józef Lutosławski was born to the same Drozdowo family in 1882.  After completing his agricultural studies in Zurich, and his socio-economic studies in London, he returned to this country and founded and edited for two years the political weekly “Polish Thought”.  He subsequently lived in Drozdowo, where he took over the management of local industrial plants.  In 1915, he was forced by the retreating Russian army to leave Drozdowo and found himself in Moscow.  There he became the plenipotentiary of the CCC [Central Citizens’ Committee] for the Ryazansky region and during his brother Marjan’s visit to the West he became his proxy for the central district.  In 1917 he took an active part as a working journalist in the columns of “Gazeta Polska” and also contributed to the creation of Polish army units.  He leaves a widow, a doctor of medicine (née Olszewska), and 3 children.
The Lutosławski brothers were arrested half a year ago in connection with the disbandment by the Bolshevik authorities in Moscow of the Bartosz Głowacki regiment.  The commander of the regiment, Colonel Kazimierz Majewski, was arrested along with the Lutosławskis.  A few weeks ago, rumours began to circulate that Colonel Majewski had been shot.  Faced with the execution of the Lutosławskis, this is seems highly probable.

The third item is dedicated principally to the memory of Marian Lutosławski:

WL Nowa Gazeta city tribute

Commemoration.  Opening yesterday’s sitting of the city council, the President, Eng[ineer] P. Drzewiecki, in brief words full of gravity, informed those present of the news that had reached Warsaw of the crimes committed on the persons of the brothers Marjan and Józef Lutosławski in Moscow.  Paying tribute to the victims of this bloody terror, the speaker highlighted the merits of the late Marjan Lutosławski, who, in his position as a member of the former citizens’ committee in the first period of its existence, had been of great service to the city. The council commemorated the late Marjan Lutosławski by rising.

• WL100/51: July Garland (1949) – the music

Following up the leads offered by Lutosławski in his letter of 27 March 1950 (WL100/49), the music of July Garland was found where he said it would be: at the House of the Polish Army (DWP).  (Here I must thank again my friend Michał Kubicki, who did the enquiries there in 2000.)  But not everything has been preserved.  All that remains are the orchestral parts, which, as one would expect, are in copyists’ hands.  There is no sign of the full score, no sign of the vocal parts for the solo baritone or male-voice chorus.  My guess is that, at some undetermined date (see below), Lutosławski or someone on his behalf retrieved the full and vocal scores and had them destroyed, but that the instrumental parts were mistakenly forgotten.  The result is that there is no trace of Gałczyński’s lyrics.  What do remain, however, are the titles of the three movements, as mentioned at the end of the previous post: ‘Walka’ (Struggle), ‘Odbudowa’ (Reconstruction) and ‘Pieśń obrońców pokoju’ (Song of the Defenders of Peace).

Some years ago, I transcribed all three movements of Lutosławski’s triptych.  Don’t get your hopes up.  The music is largely short-breathed and eminently forgettable.  Its perfunctory quality is understandable, given the nature of this Lutosławski-Gałczyński project, but it stands in contrast to Lutosławski’s subsequent contributions to the mass song and cantata literature (1950-52), all of which show imagination and professional care.  But July Garland does offer some opportunities for detective work.  Here, first, are some plain facts about the material at DWP:

• The parts are mostly in one hand, though some of the string parts are in a different one.
• The quality of the copying by the first scribe is often sloppy: missing accidentals and ties, wrong notes, bars left out or, in the case of the viola part in the second song, there are three bars in the middle of a passage where the copyist forgets that the part should still be in the viola clef and writes them out as if for the violins which are playing the same material.  None of these errors has been corrected.
• The only movement that has any additional, player-written information is the third, where most of the wind players and a few of the strings have written in two cue numbers at the start of the two 8-bar repeat sections. The first bassoon has also written in marcato at cue 2, even though the instrument is silent – that marking belongs to the brass.  The horn has inserted rit. at a point where there is a missing poco rit. that is in the other parts.  This all suggests that only the third movement was rehearsed and performed (more on this later).
• The orchestration is for a standard orchestra:;; timpani. side drum; strings.
• The three movements have the following basic features:

1. ‘Walka’: Allegro moderato, 4/4, C major.  Dur.: 50 bars.
2. ‘Odbudowa’: Con moto, 3/4, E flat major.  Dur.:  61 bars, including 9 repeat bars.
3. ‘Pieśń obrońców pokoju’: Allegro maestoso, 4/4, G major.  Dur.: 50 bars, including 13 repeat bars.


It is hard to summon up any enthusiasm for something as crudely fashioned as this movement (and much the same goes for the other two).  Its structure stumbles over itself in short bursts, its often irregular phrasing and gaunt language presumably intended to evoke the struggle of the title.  In fact, the music shows little care and attention, though there are a few flashes of what one might call Lutosławski’s hand.  The harmony of the opening bars (alternating first inversion chords of B flat major and B minor, both rooted on D natural) has a certain presence, and the rising double-bass/tuba idea B flat to D (bb.8-9) becomes a periodic leitmotif.

Walka, full score, opening

There are a couple of interesting cross-metre phrases.  The clarinets and bassoons outline a 7/4 pattern (bb.12-16), although there are copying errors in the clarinet parts (which double the bassoons’).

Walka, cl+fg, bb.12-16

The strings later chug away in a 5/4 idea (bb.30-32), though again there is a copying error (the double-basses should be doubling the cellos in b.30).

Walka, str, bb.30-32

There is virtually no melodic interest, save for an isolated two-bar fragment on strings, doubled by horns (bb.38-41).

Walka, str, bb.38-41


This movement is cast as a mazurka, with its principal theme evidencing a mock antiquity in its parallel fifths and peculiar chromaticism.

Odbudowa, full score, opening

The diabolical awfulness of the movement’s material and its inability to sustain or develop itself fail both the composer and the uplifting concept of ‘reconstruction’.  Only at the end of the piece, as the ‘climax’ falls away, is there a moment of comparative quality, when a new melody enters.

Odbudowa, full score, bb.43-end

Pieśń obrońców pokoju

In an attempt to tie this ‘triptych’ together, this movement begins with the harmonic idea that opens ‘Walka’, at its original pitch.  It soon cadences brightly (as befits the journey from struggle to peace) in G major, though the tonal sequence of C major – E flat major – G major has no particular merit in a work that lasts less than Lutosławski’s timing of c.10′.  At cue 1 (see above) the first tune proper is announced.  It lasts for only four bars, however, before puzzlingly disappearing in repeated chords.

Pieśń obrońców pokoju, full score, opening

The second 8-bar repeated section (cue 2) is almost totally devoid of melodic content.  The first theme does return later, but the movement rapidly come to a full stop shortly after.

Some thoughts

There is no doubting the authenticity of Lutosławski ‘s letter in which he announced the presence of

A triptych for solo baritone, male-voice choir and symphony orchestra ent[itled] “JULY GARLAND” (a piece written to words by K. I. Gałczyński, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the July Manifesto), dur. c.10′.  The score is to be found at the House of the Polish Army.

He calls it ‘a triptych’, which implies three balanced sections.  This is true, but the surviving parts indicate that these are separate movements, with only one linking element, as outlined above.  Lutosławski does not call it ‘a triptych of songs’, however.  My initial assumption had been that each of these movements was a mass song, as the titles might be thought to imply.  But the reconstructed score gives no indication of melody or melodic orchestral support in the first movement, and the same applies for much of the second.  Only the final movement contains anything (clear melody and simply harmony, repeat 8-bar sections) that is normally associated with a mass song.  But even here there is a gulf of quality with Lutosławski’s other mass songs and the cantata Warszawie – Sława!.

My hunch goes as follows.  The first movement (‘Walka’) is purely instrumental.  The second (‘Odbudowa’) may also be instrumental, but it may also have given the spotlight to the solo baritone, who might not need full orchestral support melodically.  Only the final movement (‘Pieśń obrońców pokoju’) is choral, possibly including the solo baritone (see also Warszawie – Sława!), because in key places it has the hallmarks of the genre, as outlined above.

Yet the greatest enigma is the music itself.  It is desultory hack-work and it is hard to believe that Lutosławski would compose it let alone subsequently advertise its presence in his letter to the Polish Composers’ Union.  Could the surviving parts in fact be by someone else, malevolently substituted for the real thing?  This would be going to extraordinary lengths to besmirch Lutosławski, especially as the piece had no currency whatsoever at any time. Such a scenario seems unlikely, which leaves no alternative to the assumption that this music is indeed by Lutosławski, music that was rushed through almost as a ‘do your worst’ to whomsoever it was destined.

Fast-forward to 1981

The handwriting of the main copyist, at the head of the parts, is certainly sufficiently old-fashioned to date from the late 1940s, but there is a further curiosity which raises questions that need to be aired.  And this is the catalogue stamp on the parts.  On all but one of them it is smudged and illegible.  But the hand-written date is clear on most. The part for Flute I is clearest of all:

Walka, fl.I part

Biblioteka Muzyczna Centr. Zespołu Artystycznego WP.  Data 8.10.1981
(Music Library of the Centr[al] Artistic Ensemble of the Polish Army.  Date 8.10.1981)

Two conclusions may be jumped to, but neither is watertight: (1) the Music Library at the House of the Polish Army got round to cataloguing the parts only in 1981, over thirty years after the piece and parts were written; (2) the parts were written out (again?) in 1981.  While (1) makes some sense and is at least a logical possibility, (2) would have required the score to have survived until 1981 too.  And (2) raises the burning question: why would anyone want to undertake such a labour in 1981?  What purpose would it serve?

Lutosławski recollects

At this point, it is worth recounting a story told by Lutosławski to the Russian musicologist Irina Nikolska.  On pp.41-43 in Nikolska’s Conversations with Witold Lutosławski (Stockholm: Melos, 1994), Lutosławski tells how he came to write his mass songs and how one of them surfaced twice subsequently with a substituted text in praise of Stalin.  (As the translation of Nikolska’s book is less than perfect, I have translated the following passage from a more recent edition of these conversations published in Polish: Muzyka to nie tylko dźwięki (Music is not just sound) (Kraków: PWM, 2003), pp.23-25.  Not only is this likely to be a more accurate transcription of the actual conversation, which was conducted in Polish, but it also differs in small but telling ways from the version of 1994.)

Meanwhile – really, I say this with all sincerity – the only thing for which I can reproach myself, and which I regret that I did, is that I wrote a few mass songs.  I wrote them because, being the sole breadwinner of the family, I thought that I must be very careful with what was happening to me, because I belonged not only to myself but also to my family.  Meanwhile, when I was an employee of the radio – I was there on salary as a composer of music for radio plays and children’s programmes – Henryk Swolkień [a senior colleague at Polish Radio] said to me, “Listen, write a few mass songs, because at the board it is said that you wrote songs for the Home Army and now you do not want to.  Be careful, because this could end badly”.  So I took various innocent lyrics – the only ones that one could take to avoid anything nasty – and I wrote these mass songs.  Actually, that was stupid of me.  Anyway, I think that Swolkień also showed undue fear.

I also wrote songs for the army.  They were all very innocent texts, there was no politics there.  Well, I wrote Song of the Armoured Tank [lit. Song about the Armoured Weapon, Pieśń o broni pancernej, which in Polish refers to armoured vehicles, i.e. tanks].  The House of the Polish Army organized a display of the songs. Duplicates were distributed to the audience …

[Nikolska] … when was this?

It was the fifties – maybe 1951.  So it was my music to Song of the Armoured Tank, but with planted words about Stalin – without my knowledge!  I went to Major Żytyński – the head of the House of the Polish Army – and protested very vigorously, which went with a certain risk, of course, but I thought that in this situation I had no choice.  I had to respond and categorically demand the withdrawal of the text.  And this was done.  And so, practically, the matter seemed to be over.  Yet it returned many years later.

During martial law, that is, after 1981 and before the changes in Poland, there was a boycott of television by actors, and a general boycott of government circles.  […] … it was in a period when a proportion of the artistic world very strongly manifested its disapproval of the government and ostentatiously sympathised with opposition movements.  […]  In a word, an atmosphere was created around many people, and around me among others, that here is someone who behaves decently.  And the UB [Secret Police] was set on ruining this.

One day I learned that, behind the scenes in a certain theatre, actors were having a conversation during a break in rehearsal, and someone mentioned my name and added that I conducted myself well, that it is necessary to behave in this way.  One of the actresses objected: “You don’t know what you’re saying. Lutoslawski wrote a cantata about Stalin”. Two people bridled at this and said: “This is impossible.  We know this man well, this is absolutely impossible”.  I did not really know what had gone on there.  I even phoned [Andrzej] Łapicki, who was rector of the National Theatre School, to check if the school library had this song with the text about Stalin.  But the actress who said this must have seen it.  She caught sight of my name, the words about Stalin and called it a cantata, obviously having no idea what a cantata was.  It turned out that the song was in the library.  How did it get there?  I wondered for a long time how this woman, who was not yet in this world when it happened, could have seen it.  I came to the conclusion – of course I did not check it – that the Secret Police did it.  They took a photocopy off the shelf and began to distribute it to people to damage my reputation.  In a word, I would not be a person whose conduct was exemplary.

This conversation with Nikolska is intriguing for several reasons.  Firstly, Lutosławski mentions a song – Song of the Armoured Tank (Pieśń o broni pancernej) – that appears nowhere else in the literature or in the archives.  Secondly, it bears some resemblance in Polish to the title of the third movement of July Garland: ‘Pieśń obrońców pokoju’, although the meaning is quite different.  Is it possible that they are one and the same piece, and that Lutosławski misremembered its title?  Perhaps these ‘defenders of peace’ were indeed armoured tanks, perhaps even mentioned in Gałczyński’s lost text.

Thirdly, in an email exchange with the Lutosławski authority Martina Homma in December 2003, she sent me excerpts from interviews that she had carried out with him in 1986.  He stated to her that it was apparently Tadeusz Urgacz, a prolific lyricist of mass songs (he wrote the texts to two of Lutosławski’s published mass songs), who wrote the substituted text about Stalin.

When it comes to the 1980s, if Lutosławski’s chronology is accurate, it is clear that the story of the actress postdates the cataloguing of July Garland (her story dates from after the imposition of martial law on 13 December 1981, whereas the cataloguing had taken place on 8 October that year).  It seems unlikely that someone was plotting against Lutosławski during the Solidarity period.  I think, therefore, that the catalogue dating is more likely to be part of some house tidying.  Besides, it was not the full score or the orchestral parts that were found after 1981, but photocopies of the probably cyclostyled duplicates circulated, as Lutosławski said, in the early 1950s (the photocopier had not yet been invented).

This all points to a performance, or at the very least, a rehearsal of the final movement of July Garland before the unfortunate incident of the substituted text, if, indeed, these two songs are one and the same.  If not, then Pieśń o broni pancernej remains a mystery.  Perhaps one day someone will come across one of the UB’s photocopies that lies forgotten on a dusty shelf.  No-one, I think, is sorry that Lutosławski’s July Garland triptych was consigned to a footnote in history, but its own history is a compelling example of the extramusical forces at work in a truly dark period of post-war Poland.


Original Polish text extracted from Nikolska’s second version of her conversations with Lutosławski (2003).

Tymczasem – naprawdę mówię to z całą szczerością – jedyną rzeczą, którą mogę sobie zarzucić i której żałuję, że zrobiłem, jest to, że napisałem kilka pieśni masowych.  Napisałem je dlatego, że będąc jedynym żywicielem rodziny sądziłem, że muszę dobrze uważać na to, co się ze mną dzieje, bo nie należę tylko do siebie, ale również do swojej rodziny.  Tymczasem, kiedy byłem pracownikiem radia – byłem tam na pensji jako kompozytor muzyki do słuchowisk i audycji dla dzieci – Henryk Swolkień powiedzał mi: “Słuchaj, napisz kilka pieśni masowych, bi już na kolegium mówiono, że dla Armii Krajowej toś pisał pieśni, a teraz nie chcesz. Uważaj, bo to się może źle skończyć”.  Wziąłem więc różne niewinne teksty, jakie tylko można było wziąć – żeby nie było tam nic paskudnego – i napisałem te pieśni masowe.  Właściwie głupio zrobiłem.  Zresztą uważam, że Swolkień też wykazał zbytnią strachliwość.

Pisałem również pieśni dla wojska.  Wszystko to było bardzo niewinne teksty, żadnej polityki tam nie było.  No i napisałem pieśń o broni pancernej.  Dom Wojska Polskiego zorganizował pokaz tych pieśni.  Fotokopie były rozdawane publiczności…

[Nikolska] … kiedy to było?

To było lata pięćdziesiąte – chyba 1951 rok.  Była więc ta moja muzyka do pieśni o broni pancernej, ale z podłożonymi słowami o Stalinie – bez mojej wiedzy!  Poszedłem do majora Żytyńskiego – kierownika Domu Wojska Polskiego – i bardzo energicznie zaprotestowałem, co było połączone oczywiście z pewnym ryzykiem, ale uważałem, że w tej sytuacji nie miałem wyboru.  Musiałem zareagować i zażądać kategorycznie wycofania tekstu.  I tak zrobiono.  Na tym właściwie sprawa wydawała się skończona.  Tymczasem powróciła wiele lat póżniej.

W czasie stanu wojennego, to znaczy po 1981 roku, a jeszcze przed zmianami w Polsce, był bojkot telewizji przez aktorów, i w ogóle bojkot sfer rządzących.  […]  … było to w okresie, w którym pewna część świata artystycznego bardzo zdecydowanie manifestowała swoją dezaprobatę dla władzy i ostentacyjnie solidaryzowała się z ruchami opozycyjnymi.  […]  Jednym słowem, wytworzyła się taka atmosfera dookoła wielu ludzi, a między innymi dookoła mnie, że jest to człowiek, który się przyzwoicie zachowuje.  I ubecja chciała to popsuć.

Któregos dnie dowiaduję się, że za kulisami pewnego teatru aktorzy dyskutowali podczas przerwy w próbie, i ktos wymienił moje nazwisko i powiedzał, że dobrze się zachowuję, że należy w ten sposób postępować. Jedna z aktorek zaoponowała: “Nic nie mówcie, Lutosławski napisał kantatę o Stalinie”.  Dwie osoby bardzo się żachnęły i powiedziały: “To jest niemożliwe.  Znamy doskonale tego człowieka, to jest absolutnie niemożliwe”.  Nie bardzo wiedziałem, co tam się stało.  Nawet zatelefonowałem do Łapickiego, który był rektorem Państwowej Wyższej Szkoły Teatralnej, żeby sprawdził, czy w bibliotece szkoły nie ma tej pieśni z tekstem o Stalinie.  Przecież aktorka, która to powiedziała, musiała ją widzieć.  Zobaczyła moje nazwisko, słowa o Stalinie i nazwała to kantata, nie mając oczywiście pojęcia, co to jest kantata.  Okazało się, że pieśń jest w bibliotece.  Skąd się tam wzięła?  Zastanawiałem się długo, skąd ta kobieta, której jeszcze na świecie nie było, kiedy to się stało, mogła to widzieć.  Doszedłem do wniosku – oczywiście nie sprawdziłem tego – że to zrobiła ubecja.  Wzięli z półki fotokopię i zaczęli ja rozprowadzać po ludziach, żeby zepsuć mi opinię. Jednym słowem, żebym nie był tym człowiekiem, którego postępowanie jest wzorowe.

• WL100/50: Volcano in Łowicz (1949)

On 21 March 1949, Lutosławski went with the Polish poet and satirist Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński (1905-53) to a well-known artists’ retreat at the Palace of Nieborów, west of Warsaw.  Its nearest town was Łowicz (pronounced ‘Wohveech’).  They were meeting to discuss one of the oddest projects that Lutosławski ever entertained: a comic opera centred on Łowicz.  Yet, as the preceding post – WL100/49: 22 July 1949 and a letter – indicates, this was not the only link between the two men, and this post concludes with a footnote about their other proven collaboration, July Garland.

The source of the Łowicz information was given to me by Gałczyński’s daughter, Kira, when I met her in Warsaw in 2000.  Earlier, she had spoken to my friend Michał Kubicki (who did much of the groundwork when following up the leads in Lutosławski’s letter), saying that her father and Lutosławski spent many hours talking at Nieborów, discussing several joint projects.

The only published account of their collaboration of which I am aware is to be found in a contribution to a book on Gałczyński, published in 1961.*  It comes from Jan Wegner (1909-96), who was  born in Łowicz.  After World War II, he was appointed to take care of the renovation of the Palace of Nieborów and he initiated many artistic meetings and events there.  In ‘Wspomnienia Nieborowskie’ [Nieborów Memories], he wrote:

21 March (Monday). Today, for the second time, Gałczyński came to Nieborów.  He was accompanied by the musician Witold Lutoslawski, for whom, after his first departure from Nieborów, he had prepared the libretto for a comic opera in one act entit[led] “The Fair in Łowicz”.  A note written by the composer in the Nieborów Visitors’ Book states: “Witold Lutoslawski was here on 21.03.1949 with Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński on account of “The Fair in Łowicz”.”

The poet said that among contemporary Polish musicians Lutoslawski has the greatest sense of the grotesque.

That day, Gałczyński read me excerpts from his libretto, while asking at the same time about the history of the famous fairs in Łowicz.  The libretto was full of fun ideas and grotesque-comic effects.  He introduced various additions, and he even changed the title of the comic opera to “The Volcano in Łowicz”.  The climax of this musical spectacle was supposed to be a volcanic eruption, belching with fire and smoke.  This volcano (a cardboard “fireproof crater”), the biggest sensation of the St John’s fair in Łowicz, was a source of income for a certain minstrel with whiskers who wandered through the fair and who fell in love with the Łowicz mayor, Eulalia.  In honour of Eulalia he commissioned a cantata about Mercury, “the god who links Łowicz with Olympus”.  Roch Serafiński wrote the cantata, “which grants happiness and lends money”.
The libretto was written for Lutoslawski.  The authors wanted to entrust the directing to Lidia Zamkow who came that day to Nieborów from Łódź with Natalia Gałczyńska and the writer Maciej Słomczyński.  As regards the set and costumes, they intended to approach … Jan Kamyczek and the Rojek Brothers from “Przekrój”.


21 marca (poniedziałek).  W dniu dzisiejszym po raz drugi przyjechał Gałczyński do Nieborowa.  Towarzyszył mu muzyk Witold Lutosławski, dla którego przygotował po pierwszym wyjeździe z Nieborowa libretto do opery komicznej w jednym akcie pt. “Jarmark w Łowiczu”.  Stwierdza to notatka wpisana przez kompozytora do nieborowskiej Księgi Pamiątkowej: “Witold Lutosławski 21.3.1949 był tu z Konstantym Ildefonsem Gałczyńskim z powodu “Jarmarku w Łowiczu”.”

Poeta mówił, że spośród współczesnych muzyków polskich Lutosławski ma największe poczucie groteski.

Tego dnia Gałczyński odczytał mi fragmenty swojego libretta, wypytując jednocześnie o historię słynnych jarmarków łowickich.  Libretto obfitowało w zabawne pomysły i efekty groteskowo-komiczne.  Do tekstu wprowadzał różne uzupełnienia, a nawet sam tytuł opery komicznej zmienił na “Wulkan w Łowiczu”.  Punktem kulminacyjnym tego muzycznego widowiska miał być wybuch wulkanu, zionącego ogniem i dymem.  Ów wulkan (z tektury o “ogniotrwałym kraterze”), będący największą sensacją świętojańskiego jarmarku w Łowiczu, był źródłem utrzymania pewnego wędrującego po jarmarkach rybałta z wąsikami, który zakochał się w łowickiej burmistrzance Eulalii.  Na cześć Eulalii zamówił kantatę Merkury, “bożek, co Łowicz z Olimpem łączy”.  Kantatę napisał Roch Serafiński, “co radości użycza a forsę pożycza”.
Libretto było pisane dla Lutosławskiego.  Reżyserię chcieli autorzy powierzyć Lidii Zamkow, która tego dnia przyjechała z Łodzi do Nieborowa z Natalią Gałczyńską oraz pisarzem Maciejem Słomczyńskim.  W sprawie dekoracji i kostiumów zamierzano zwrócić się do… Jana Kamyczka i braci Rojek z “Przekroju”.

• Lidia Zamkow (1918-82) was a Polish actress and director.  Maciej Słomczyński (1922-98), an adopted Pole, was her first husband.  Natalia Gałczyńska (1908-76) was Gałczyński’s wife and an author in her own right. ‘Jan Kamyczek’ and ‘the Rojek Brothers’ [Bracia Rojek] were two of the pseudonyms used by the (female) painter and satirical journalist, Janina Ipohorska (1914-81), who – like Gałczyński – frequently contributed to the Polish weekly satirical magazine Przekrój (Wegner seems to have misunderstood her identity a little).  The fictional Roch Serafiński was previously a character in Gałczyński’s poetic ‘little oratorio’ Kolczyki Izoldy (Isolde’s Earrings, 1946).
• There’s something curious about Wegner’s chronology.  When did Gałczyński change the title from ‘The Fair in Łowicz’ to ‘The Volcano in Łowicz’?  During the day’s discussions, or before?  Lutosławski’s entry in the Visitors’ Book must surely have been made when he arrived, rather than when he left, as he wrote down the former title.  (It is possible, given the poor transport links at the time and the facilities offered at Nieborów, that they were there for longer than just a day visit.)  Whatever the sequence, it is clear from Wegner’s account that the planning of the project was well-advanced, as the names of the other main contributors were already being discussed.
• That this project came to nothing is disappointing as it sounds quite different from the smothering blanket of socialist-realist culture that was rapidly being spread over all the Polish arts in Spring 1949.  Perhaps that is why it fell by the wayside.  But its fantastical character must have appealed to Lutosławski in some measure, even though he had an aversion to opera in which normal speech was set to music.  Perhaps the most interesting feature in Wegner’s recollections is Gałczyński’s opinion that Lutosławski had the greatest sense of the grotesque of all Polish musicians.  On what did he base this judgment?  Could it be the third movement, Allegretto misterioso, from the First Symphony, premiered less than a year earlier and castigated by the authorities only six months after the meeting at Nieborów?

* Anna Kamieńska & Jan Śpiewak (eds), Wspomnienia o K. I. Gałczyńskim [Reminiscences of K. I Gałczyński] (Warsaw: Czytelnik, 1961), pp.453-4.

Footnote on Lipcowy wieniec

All that we know for certain about Lipcowy wieniec (July Garland) comes from Lutosławski’s letter of 8 April 1950 (see previous post).  Despite Kira Gałczyńska’s recollection that her father and Lutosławski discussed several joint projects at Nieborów, no evidence has surfaced in her father’s papers for 1949.  In 2000, Michał Kubicki made enquiries of Maria Mirecka (the 20th-century poetry editor at the publishing house Czytelnik) and of Ziemowit Fedecki (editor of the Twórczość monthly, who knew Gałczyński personally and edited several volumes of his poetry), but neither knew anything about the Gałczyński-Lutosławski connections.

One is left wondering if one of their joint projects was the short celebration of the July Manifesto (see post WL100/48) that became July Garland.  Did they, perhaps, groan together in Nieborów as they cobbled together a work in which they had no interest and even less faith?  There is no reason to doubt Lutosławski’s word about Gałczyński’s involvement in this triptych, but all we are left with of his contribution are the titles of the movements: ‘Walka’ (Struggle), ‘Odbudowa’ (Reconstruction) and ‘Pieśń obrońców pokoju’ (Song of the Defenders of Peace).  The music of July Garland is the subject of the next post – WL100/51.

As to any performance of July Garland, the evidence is very thin.  Michał Kubicki found no trace of it in the newspapers issued around 22 July 1949.  The opening of Trasa W-Z (E-W Route) dominated the headlines, but there was no indication of any new Lutosławski-Gałczyński work (one can be certain, had the premiere taken place, that it would have received considerable attention).  The previous day, there had been some musical items:

• The post-war reconstruction of Warsaw’s National Philharmonic Hall began.
• The Chopin Institute announced that for 22 July the cost of bus tickets to Chopin’s birthplace at Żelazowa Wola outside Warsaw would be reduced.
• Kantata na 22 lipca (Cantata for 22 July) by Jerzy Gert and Tadeusz Dobrzański, to a text by Krzysztof Gruszczyński, was premiered on the evening of 21 July, at the Legia Sports Club tennis courts.  The concert was organised by Dom Wojska Polskiego (House of the Polish Army), to which Lutosławski referred in his letter. The Polish daily Trybuna Ludu published the full text, of which these are the opening lines:

Fraternal canons resounded in July,
They brought us sun and song,
Eternal glory to the Soviet Army
Honour to our brotherhood in arms!

Zagrały w lipcu bratnie działa,
Słońce przyniosły nam i pieśń,
Radzieckiej Armii wieczna chwała
Braterstwu broni naszej cześć!

Surprisingly, the Gert-Dobrzański compilation did have some life in it, as it was repeated in Warsaw on 12 April 1951. The poetry is pretty dreadful and typical of socialist-realist panegyrics.  Without doubt, Gałczyński’s lyrics would have had more character, even if their sentiments were similar.  Sadly, we are unlikely ever to know.

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