• 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!

NODN end

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

• WL100/58: ‘old’ Derwid CDs

It’s all happening at once for Derwid, or so it seems.  Polskie Nagrania has announced a new CD of original recordings of Lutosławski’s pseudonymous popular songs from 1957-63, just as Agata Zubel’s CD of modern interpretations has arrived in the shops (see yesterday’s post WL100/57).  Yet PN’s new CD is, apart from two of its 14 tracks, a reissue of another CD that was produced in 2010 and which can be listened to online for free. Confused?  Here’s a run-down of the Derwid discography so far.

ap01342005: Derwid. Lutosławski’s Concealed Portrait (Acte Prealable, APO134).  New arrangements of twelve songs, sung by Mariusz Klimek and an instrumental quartet (keyboards, tenor sax, bass guitar, percussion).

Derwid_L2010: Piosenki Derwida (Studio MTS).  Remastering of twelve recordings published in the 1950s and 1960s on the Muza and Pronit labels.  It somewhat bizarrely includes a bonus track, Le fiacre de Varsovie, a French-language version of Warszawski dorożkarz, sung by the Greek singer Yovanna at the 1962 Sopot Festival in northern Poland.


2013 (PNCD): Piosenki Derwida / Witolda Lutosławskiego. Warszawski Dorożkarz (Polskie Nagrania, PNCD 1503).  A reissue of Studio MTS’s remastering (2010), plus two other period tracks.


2013 (ACD): el Derwid (CD Accord, ACD 192).  New arrangements of eleven songs, sung by Agata Zubel, with Andrzej Bauer (cello) and Cezary Duchnowski (keyboards, computer).

According to the Studio MTS website, its set of twelve period recordings was issued, though I can find no record of its CD number.  In fact, it was never issued commercially, but was available for educational purposes only.  So it is very good that it has now resurfaced – in a different track order – under the PN label.  At the time of writing, the Studio MTS recordings are still available to listen for free online: http://studiomts.pl/NewFiles/Opisy_plyt/Derwid.html.

Here’s an alphabetical list of which tracks you can find on which CDs.  These 20 songs represent just over half of Derwid’s output and there remain some gems yet to be recorded (for a full list of songs and English translations of the titles, see WL100/42: 33 ‘Derwid’ songs published).  I know that in the mid-1990s there still were tapes in Polish Radio of period broadcasts of many of these songs, some in different versions, and also of others not in this list, so perhaps some day they too will be aired again.

Cyrk jedzie: 2005, 2010 + 2013 (PNCD), 2013 (ACD)
Czarownica: 2005, 2010 + 2013 (PNCD), 2013 (ACD)
Daleka podróż: 2010 + 2013 (PNCD), 2013 (ACD)
Filipince nudno: 2013 (PNCD)
Jak zdobywać serduszka: 2010 + 2013 (PNCD
Jeden przystanek dalej: 2005, 2013 (ACD)
Kapitańska ballada: 2013 (PNCD)
Milczące serce: 2005 (twice), 2010 + 2013 (PNCD)
Miłość i świat: 2005, 2013 (ACD)
Nie oczekuję dziś nikogo: 2005, 2010 + 2013 (PNCD), 2013 (ACD)
Plamy na słońcu: 2010 + 2013 (PNCD), 2013 (ACD)
Po co śpiewać piosenki: 2005
Tabu: 2010 + 2013 (PNCD)
Tylko to słowo: 2010 + 2013 (PNCD)
W lunaparku: 2005, 2013 (ACD)
W naszym pustym pokoju hula wiatr: 2010 + 2013 (PNCD)
Warszawski dorożkarz: 2005, 2010 + 2013 (PNCD)
(Le fiacre de Varsovie): 2010 + 2013 (PNCD)
Z lat dziecinnych: 2005, 2013 (ACD)
Złote pantofelki: 2013 (ACD)
Znajdziesz mnie wszędzie: 2005, 2013 (ACD)

• WL100/57: ‘el Derwid’ CD

It’s out!  Here’s something special for the Lutosławski centenary: a CD of eleven of his popular songs written under the pseudonym ‘Derwid’ in 1957-63.  Expect to be intrigued (the ‘el’ dimension) and blown away!  It’s just been released on CD Accord (ACD1922).  Here’s the track list, plus a little background in earlier posts: Zubel Zings! and WL100/42: 33 ‘Derwid’ songs published.


• 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)

• Zubel Zings!

series_page_image_c_kopia tarasin jan_w238The Philharmonia’s Orchestra’s Woven Words celebration of the centenary of the birth of Witold Lutosławski has come to its end in London, although it is taking some of its repertoire abroad from time to time until September.  It has been an undeniable success, with great performances of Lutosławski’s music under Esa-Pekka Salonen.  I went to all three London concerts in the Royal Festival Hall, and the clear highlight for me was Krystian Zimerman’s superlative interpretation of the Piano Concerto in the first concert (30 January).  Jennifer Koh brought an exceptional intensity and drive to Chain 2 in the final concert (21 March) and Truls Mørk’s performance of the Cello Concerto in the second concert (7 March) was also very fine.  I wish I could be as enthusiastic about Mathias Goerne in Les espaces du sommeil, but his weak diction and exceedingly nervous manner were severe distractions.  The programming of Debussy and Ravel was inspired, especially the placing of Ma mère l’oye at the start of the third concert.  The performances of the French repertoire were, however, hit and miss: the complete Daphnis et Chlöe was riveting, La mer rather matter-of-fact, while La valse – the last piece in the series – went for absolutely nothing because of Salonen’s expression-denying, helter-skelter speed.

Less trumpeted were the complementary concerts.  Students from the Royal College of Music played a sterling role in this regard, in concerts on 4, 6 and 27 February and on 6 March.    There were also three events by young Polish musicians playing music of their contemporaries, though these events were barely evident in either the Philharmonia’s online publicity, which failed to keep up-to-date with some programme changes, or within the RFH signage itself.  This was a pity, and something of a discourtesy to the Polish side of the partnership (the Adam Mickiewicz Institute), which had brought fresh imagination to these supporting recitals.  (A full list of the Lutosławski and other Polish repertoire in the London concerts is given at the foot of this post.)


The first supporting event in the RFH came before the second concert (7 March) and was given by the Polish ensemble Kwartludium (clarinet/bass clarinet, violin, percussion, piano).  The advertised repertoire of music by Wojciech Blecharz (b.1981) and Jagoda Szmytka (b.1982) was replaced by pieces by other Polish composers: Sławomir Wojciechowski (b.1971), Wojciech Ziemowit Zych (b.1976) and Dariusz Przybylski (b.1984).  Dagna Sadkowska and Piotr Nowicki began the recital with a performance of Lutosławski’s Subito, which the full ensemble followed with a ghostly ‘impression’ of the piece.  All three of the other works had great dynamism and instrumental imagination.  A fragment of Zych’s piece (in Polish: Stale obecna tęsknota) is available on the Kwartludium website: http://www.kwartludium.com/Zych.mp3.   This recital was an extremely rare opportunity in this country to hear Polish music written since 2000, and that in itself should give us pause for thought.  We are too wedded to the triumvirate of Lutosławski, Penderecki and Górecki.  There are not only many other Polish composers born before 1945 who are totally neglected in the UK, but also four decades of composers who now range in age from their mid-60s to their mid-20s and whose names are barely known, let alone their music.  Our concert repertoire – and not only with regard to Poland – remains more insular than we (are prepared to) recognise.

Cellotronicum and Cellonet

The second supporting event took place before the third concert (21 March).  The first part was given by Cellotronikum, comprising the cellist Andrzej Bauer with computer input by the composer Cezary Duchnowski (b.1971).  They gave the world premiere of For A.B. by Ryszard Osada (b.1972), followed by Duchnowski’s Broda.  In the second part, given by the Cellonet ensemble, Bauer conducted eight of his own students in Penderecki’s own arrangement of his Agnus Dei and in Octagon by the Ukrainian composer Lubawa Sydorenko (b.1979).  In both pieces, Cellonet was absolutely stunning, and you can hear the Sydorenko on the Cellonet MySpace site: http://www.myspace.com/cellonet/music/songs/lubawa-sydorenko-octagon-58524337.  This was music-making of an unusual order, and it is a measure of its quality that two of the eight cellists – Bartosz Koziak and Marcin Zdunik – have won the Lutosławski Cello Competition (in 2001 and 2007 respectively).  I heard Zdunik give an inspired performance of Lutosławski’s Grave in Warsaw in January and he told me after the RFH recital that he’s about to record the Lutosławski Cello Concerto, so that is definitely something to look out for.

El Derwid

The final supporting event, and the most neglected, came after the third Philharmonia concert and was held in the distinctly unsuitable Clore Ballroom (diabolical acoustics, nil atmosphere).  It was a reworking of eight of over thirty dance songs that Lutosławski wrote in the late 1950s and early 60s under the pseudonym ‘Derwid’.  For some unfathomable reason, the evening’s concert sheet failed to mention this rather crucial connection.  I’ve known the Derwid songs in their original recordings for over twenty years, but even I was flummoxed by the unexplained heading ‘EL DERWID’.  Had someone been reading Doctorow?  Was there some unknown Venezuelan bandit connection?  Subsequent research revealed that the ‘El’ comes from ‘Elettrovoce’, a duet comprising the composer and singer Agata Zubel (b.1978) and Duchnowski.  Somebody might have thought to explain this.  Zubel and Duchnowski (on piano as well as computer) teamed up several years ago with Bauer to perform their realisations of a selection of Derwid songs; a recording of this ‘El Derwid’ repertoire is due out on CD Accord this autumn.

Even though I caught only five of the songs (their performance must have started the minute the concert ended, as they were on song no.3 by the time I got downstairs), they were sufficient to whet my appetite for the CD.  Zubel has great stage presence and a wonderfully flexible voice.  In Czarownica (Witch), she and Bauer seemed to be having a domestic tit-for-tat, to humorous effect, while in Daleka podróż (Distant Journey) the trio brought a grating darkness to this tale of dreaming of distant, sunny climes.  In this bitterly cold March weather, I knew how they felt.  The title song for their set, Plamy na słońcu (Sunspots), delightfully and unexpectedly interlaced Derwid’s music with the Passacaglia theme from Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra.  Woven works.  This fringe event brought a smile to the lips of those who had found it, and it gave the festival a properly fizzing conclusion.


Two further aspects of Woven Words are worth mentioning.  Firstly, and more importantly, the detail and skill that have gone into the woven-words.co.uk website.  It is a model of its kind: launched well in advance of the festival (three months), it contains links to several specially commissioned films and a series of essays on Lutosławski.  This is a very valuable resource, not just for the festival but for future readers and viewers.  Secondly, there was a Lutosławski Study Day – ‘Lutosławski and the Interior Drama: The Spaces of Dream’ – held at the RFH on 16 March. There were five sessions: talks by Steven Stucky (‘Glimpsing an Ideal World’), myself (‘The Spaces of Dream: Lutosławski and Surrealism’) and Nicholas Reyland (‘The Sense of an Ending: Late Music, Enduring Concerns’), plus a workshop on the String Quartet with Steven Stucky and the Jubilee String Quartet, who then played the work complete.  The day concluded with a panel discussion by the three speakers.

Woven Words: 20th- and 21st-Century Polish Repertoire

Lutosławski/Philharmonia: Concerto for Orchestra (1954), Musique funèbre (1958), Cello Concerto (1970), Les espaces du sommeil (1975), Chain 2 (1985), Piano Concerto (1988), Symphony no.4 (1992)

• Lutosławski/RCM: Two Studies (1941), Bucolics (1952), Dance Preludes (1954), Jeux vénitiens (1961), String Quartet (1964), Epitaph (1979), Grave (1981), Mini-Overture (1982), Symphony no.3 (1983), Partita (1984), Fanfare for CUBE (1987), Subito (1992)

• Lutosławski/Kwartludium: Subito (1992)

• Lutosławski/Jubilee String Quartet: String Quartet (1964)

• ‘Derwid’/El Derwid: Cyrk jedzie (The Circus is Coming), Jeden przystanek dalej (One Stop Further), Z lat dziecinnych (From Childhood), Czarownica (Witch), Złote pantofelki (Golden Shoes), Daleka podróż (Distant Journey), W lunaparku (At the Funfair), Plamy na słońcu (Sunspots)

• Other 
Cezary Duchnowski: Broda (2005)
Ryszard Osada: For A.B. (2013?) world premiere
Krzysztof Penderecki: Agnus Dei (1981), arr. eight cellos (2007)
Dariusz Przybylski: Medeas Träume (2008)
Sławomir Wojciechowski: Rope of Sands (2009)
Wojciech Zimowit Zych: Ever-Present Longing (2005)

• New Article (Lutosławski’s Parallel Lives)

I’ve just posted a new article – ‘Parallel Lives of a Captive Muse’ – which has been published at www.woven-words.co.uk as part of the Philharmonia Orchestra’s celebration of the centenary of Lutosławski’s birth next year.

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