• WL100/4: Lutosławski Likenesses

If you haven’t already twigged whose eyes are fixing you from above as you read onpolishmusic, here’s the answer:


The photo was taken in 1937, when Lutosławski was 24, and this profile and penetrating gaze would be repeated in many subsequent photos.  He’s the spitting image of his father Józef, pictured below in 1900 when he was 19, with his mother Maria (they were to marry in 1904; Witold was their fourth and last child).  Józef was executed by the Bolsheviks in Russia in 1918; Maria died in 1967.

Maria & Józef Lutosławscy, 1900

I’ve often wondered if Lutosławski was deliberately emulating his father’s pose in the photo from 1937.  The likeness is uncanny.  Aside from such measured photos, Lutosławski could be full of laughter.  Fifty years on, during his visit to Belfast in 1987, when he was 74, he was captured from a less usual angle, showing his right profile.  It’s one of my favourite images of Lutosławski and one which has not been shown publicly until now.

WL, Belfast, 17.12.87

On the eve of his centenary year, here’s to the musical celebrations of 2013!

• WL100/3: Lutosławski in Belfast (gallery)

Here are a few more pictures from Lutosławski’s visit to Queen’s University, Belfast, twenty five years ago in December 1987 (see the two preceding WL100 posts).  After a concert of his chamber music on 17 December, Lutosławski spent some time looking at an exhibition of his scores and LP covers.  Lutosławski and I also had an evidently jolly discussion with my friend and colleague, the composer Piers Hellawell.

WL at QUB exhibition 17.12.87WL at QUB exhibition, with Adrian Thomas 17.12.87

WL at QUB, with Adrian Thomas and Piers Hellawell 17.12.87

• WL100/2: Lutosławski in Belfast (DMus)

WL concert 17.12.8718 December 1987 was a grey wet day, but then it was a week before Christmas. It was, however, a special day at Queen’s University, Belfast.  My colleagues, our students and I could not have been prouder when Lutosławski stepped onto the platform of the Whitla Hall to receive an honorary DMus.  I read the citation and afterwards Lutosławski walked the short distance to the Main Building for a jovial lunch with university dignitaries.

Lutosławski charmed everyone whom he met, as he always did.  The night before, he’d been present at a concert of his chamber music where relaxation and informality had been the key.  On this day, he was all robed up and solemnly posed for the camera in his doctoral garb.

When I saw him in Warsaw the following year, I took with me a host of photos from his visit which he signed for the performers and others.  I like the way he used a silver-ink pen. His was a special and distinctive handwriting, as I hope to show in other posts in 2013.

WL Hon DMus:2 18.12.87

Witold Lutosławski, Hon DMus
The Queen’s University of Belfast, 18 December 1987

• WL100/1: Lutosławski in Belfast

Twenty five years ago today, on 17 December 1987, Lutosławski paid his one and only visit to Northern Ireland.  He had come for the Winter graduation at The Queen’s University of Belfast where he was to be awarded an Honorary DMus on 18 December.  I was teaching at Queen’s at that time and the proposal that the University should recognise Lutosławski came from my colleague, the innovative social anthropologist and ethnomusicologist, John Blacking.

On the night before the degree ceremony, the Department of Music mounted a short concert of Lutosławski’s chamber music in his honour: Dance Preludes, Five Songs, Sacher Variation, Epitaph, Grave and Partita.  The performers were graduands of the University, joined by György Pauk and Roger Vignoles.  Lutosławski seemed very pleased with the occasion, and afterwards he inspected an exhibition of his scores and record sleeves (LPs in those days!) and mingled happily with the audience at a post-concert reception in his honour.

I’ll post some more pictures from the occasion in the coming days.

Witold Lutosławski at a concert of his chamber music in the Harty Room of Queen's University, Belfast, on 17 December 1987.From left to right: György Pauk (violin), Donal McCrisken (piano), Damian Frame (clarinet), Francis King (piano), Lutosławski, Colin Stark (oboe), Jacqueline Horner (mezzo-soprano), John O'Kane (cello) and Roger Vignoles (piano)

From left to right: György Pauk (violin), Donal McCrisken (piano), Damian Frame (clarinet), Francis King (piano), Lutosławski, Colin Stark (oboe), Jacqueline Horner (mezzo-soprano), John O’Kane (cello), Roger Vignoles (piano)

The programme notes for the concert may be accessed here.

%d bloggers like this: