• Lutosławski @sacrum+profanum, 22.09.13

sacrum_logotypecmyk_jasnetlHot on the heels of my recent posts about the re-imagining of Lutosławski’s music by Polish musicians, news has come through of a potentially more far-reaching project involving non-Polish musicians at the 2013 sacrum+profanum festival in Kraków.

On 22 September, the AUKSO orchestra, under Marek Moś, will play Lutosławski’s Musique funèbre and Preludes and Fugue.  Their by-the-book performances will then be responded to by four composers known for their electronic work: Clark (Chris Clark, UK), Emika (UK, of Czech parentage), Mira Calix (UK) and Oneohtrix Point Never (Daniel Lopatin, USA).  The event – ‘Polish Icons 2’ – starts at 18.00, at the ArcelorMittal Hala Ocynowni.  Tickets (bilety) are 79zł (c. £20) until the end of May, thereafter 99zł (c. £25).  The Polish announcement is available here (the English-language pages have not yet caught up with the Polish news release).


• Gramophone blogs on Lutosławski

picture-3830If you haven’t noticed them already, check out Michael McManus’s blogs celebrating the Lutosławski centenary.  He blends personal reminiscence with insights into the works and their performances.  He has some intriguing observations, not least on Perényi’s recent Berlin performance of the Cello Concerto under Simon Rattle (4.03.13) and on Stanisław Skrowaczewski’s interpretation of the Concerto for Orchestra in a rehearsal with the Hallé Orchestra (20.03.13).  The blogs are available in the Gramophone online edition.  There have been five so far.

• 20.03.13  Keeping the Lutosławski tradition alive
• 4.03.13  Lutosławski’s Cello Concerto
• 13.02.13  Woven Words
• 30.01.13  Warsaw in the winter
• 29.01.13  Lutosławski at 100

• A Brush with Lutosławski

18619_437344239663934_545288166_nI’ve just been to Warsaw to celebrate Lutosławski’s centenary.  I’ve returned with commemorative books, CDs, a pencil, a medal and a brush, with the promise of an IoS app to follow.  More importantly, I’ve experienced an enlightening and inspiring five days with friends old and new, all gathered together by the music and memories of one man.  It was a bit surreal: we were there, but he wasn’t, except in his music.  I felt his absence keenly, even though it’s almost 19 years since he died.

Day 1 (Thursday, 24 January)

It had all been a bit hairy getting from Cornwall to Warsaw.  Yesterday, I made it to Poole for a performance by Johannes Moser, the Bournemouth SO and Kirill Karabits of Lutosławski’s Cello Concerto.  Moser is playing it a dozen times or so this year and his was a vibrant and alert reading.  We also had a great discussion in a pre-concert event with Tom Hutchinson of the RPS (who had commissioned the work and was on the eve of its own 200th-anniversary celebrations) and I’m looking forward to poring over the score with Moser in the near future.  But neither threats of snow and ice nor broken-down trains got in the way of my safe arrival in Poland today to snow and minus temperatures that back home would be regarded as a national catastrophe.

4230738-1The pre-centenary concert was given mainly by the young generation of Polish and visiting artists in the Royal Palace, as the opening concert of this year’s Łańcuch X (Chain 10) festival built around Lutosławski’s music.  There were fine readings of Musique funèbre, Grave (with Marcin Zdunik) and Paroles tissées (with the Dutch tenor Marcel Beekman) by the AUKSO CO under Marek Moś.  A special treat were the readings from Paul Valéry, Henri Michaux and Cyprian Kamil Norwid by one of Poland’s most famous actresses, Maja Komorowska.  She was in the very first Polish film that I ever saw, Zanussi’s Zycie rodzinne (Family Life).

An unexpected part of the evening was the presentation of a specially minted medal by the Witold Lutosławski Society not only to Lutosławski’s stepson and wife, Marcin and Gabriela Bogusławski, but also to about a dozen other guests.  These included the Polish conductor Jan Krenz, long a champion of Lutosławski’s music, Polish writers such as Mieczysław Tomaszewski (who was at the PWM publishers when Lutosławski’s career really took off in the early 1950s) and Michał Bristiger.  Both Tomaszewski and Bristiger are in their 90s and as sprightly in body and spirit as ever.  Younger Polish writers also honoured included Danuta Gwizdalanka and the composer Krzysztof Meyer, whose joint two-volume study of Lutosławski’s life and music is being issued in a single, German-language volume later this year, and Zbigniew Skowron, whose editorial and archival work has done much to bring Lutosławski’s music and thought to non-Polish readers.

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Non-Polish recipients included the German musicologist Martina Homma, the Russian musicologist Irina Nikolska, the American composer and author of the first major study of Lutosławski’s life and work, Steven Stucky, and two British writers: Charles Bodman Rae and myself.  James Rushton of Chester Music accepted the medal as Managing Director of Lutosławski’s publishers, Chester Music.  The following day, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Antoni Wit also received the medal on the stage of the Philharmonic Hall at the end of the opening centenary concert.  The Poles are good at this type of recognition and we were all honoured and touched by the generosity of the gesture.

Day 2 (Friday, 25 January)

Today was the big day and a packed programme for the visiting guests.  First stop was the Chopin Museum, where we were shown a recently purchased autograph of Chopin’s Waltz in F minor.  Krzysztof Meyer inspected it closely.

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The Director of the Chopin Institute Artur Szklener and the Senior Curator of the Chopin Museum Maciej Janicki were our expert guides. Janicki then took us through the interactive displays and artefacts installed in the museum. We could also glimpse a more recent tribute to Chopin in the shape of a giant mural on a nearby building.  You can see the even more giant and infinitely less prepossessing national stadium on the other side of the River Vistula.

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At lunchtime we moved across from the reconstructed Ostrogski Palace that houses the Chopin Museum to the ultra-modern facilities of the National Frederic Chopin Institute.  We weren’t there for Chopin, but for a press conference to launch a smartphone app: Witold Lutosławski: Guide to Warsaw.  As I write, it’s available only on Android; the IoS version is awaiting approval from Apple.


I was impressed, not only by the way in which the creators outlined their intentions – principal among the people involved were (from left to right above) Grzegorz Michalski, President of the Lutosławski Society, Danuta Gwizdalanka, Kamila Stępień-Kutera and Artur Szklener – but also how good the application looked.  It’s been designed by the Kraków-based company NETIGEN and project-managed by a former music student Kamil Ściseł.

7149506The app has English and Polish versions, numerous photos, spoken and written texts, and it guides the user through Lutosławski’s Warsaw, visiting over fifty locations.  The team decided early on not to include music so as to keep the app manageable.  It seemed from the demonstration to be both handsome and user-friendly and should prove to be a major source of interest to a wide spectrum of people around the world.  It will be much cheaper for those with foreign SIM cards to use at home than on the streets of Warsaw, but it is designed to inform users who are following Lutosławski’s footsteps either on the ground or virtually.

From the press confeence it was on to Warsaw’s Powązki Cemetery, where Lutosławski was buried on 16 February 1994.  Most of us had been there many times before, not least because there are the graves of so many famous creative artists in its grounds.  Lutosławski’s grave is close by those of many other musicians.  It was getting pretty cold by mid-afternoon and the snow had piled up.  Earlier visitors had, however, cleared the gravestone of Lutosławski and his wife Danuta and it was already covered in huge wreaths.

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There was little room in the space between the rows of graves to fit everyone in.  Krzysztof Meyer adjusted the wreath ribbons.

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Speeches were made by the President of the Polish Composers’ Union Jerzy Kornowicz and by Steven Stucky.

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In the photo above, you can see (from left to right) Jerzy Kornowicz, Krzysztof Meyer, Martina Homma and Irina Nikolska.  Below, Steven Stucky, Krzysztof Meyer and Danuta Gwizdalanka partly hidden, Mieczysław Tomaszewski, Martina Homma and Irina Nikolska (also partly hidden).

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Being a little frivolous by nature, I couldn’t help noticing that the profile of the conductor Stefan Rachoń behind Lutosławski’s grave had been lent a certain Victorian air by the accumulation of snow.

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I stepped the other side and was followed by Meyer through the snow drifts between the graves.  I then took a final photo of Kornowicz, Stucky and Homma.

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IMG_7455 copyThe major event on the centenary of Lutosławski birth was the evening’s concert by the Warsaw Philharmonic under Antoni Wit.  It was an interesting and in the event a brave choice to open with a piece not by Lutosławski but by one of the younger generation whom Lutosławski helped with scholarships and other funding.  Pawel Szymański (b.1954) is arguably the best-known Polish composer of his generation, but he’s been out of the limelight for some time, mainly finishing his opera Qudsja Zaher (premiere, Teatr Wielki, Warsaw, 20 April 2013).  His new orchestral piece, Sostenuto, is characteristically oblique, slow-moving (initially) and demanding of concentration.  Its main climax approached Lutosławski’s in intensity and it subsided in a similar fashion.  Szymański dedicated Sostenuto to Lutosławski, including a brief reference to the latter’s Partita (which I missed) and ended with a veiled reference, also missed, to Brahms’s Piano Concerto no.1.  Szymański remains as enigmatic as ever.

Wit’s performance of Lutosławski’s Third Symphony was solid and well-paced, even if it didn’t fully catch fire.  The fireworks came with Anne-Sophie Mutter’s performance of Partita-Interlude-Chain 2 in the second half.  This is her piece (These are her pieces?) and she gave them all the subtlety and passion that they deserve.  The hall was packed and it was great to meet up again with friends like the conductor Wojciech Michniewski (who’s conducting the premiere of Szymański’s opera) and the pianist and composer Zygmunt Krauze.

Day 3 (Saturday, 26 January)

The official celebrations are over for the time being.  I decided to stay on for a few days, and today I had two events. The first was completely unrelated to Lutosławski.  It was a piano recital by the Hungarian-born, Polish-domiciled Szábolsc Esztényi of music by his friend Tomasz Sikorski (1939-88).  Sikorski, a contemporary of Krauze, was one of the most original voices in Polish music, and his strong, repetitive minimalist idiom is as challenging today as it was back in the 60s, 70s and 80s.

This recital was being given in the old Królikarnia palace in south Warsaw, which looked picturesque under lamplight, surrounded by deep snow, but was pretty cold inside too.  The cause was the launch of two CDs – issued by Bôłt records in association with DUX and Polish Radio among others – of music by Sikorski.  Esztényi’s double CD also includes two of his own works (Creative Music no.3 in memoriam Tomasz Sikorski, 1989, and Concerto, 1971).  There’s also Presence (2007) by Kasia Głowacka.  The other pieces, by Sikorski, are mainly archival – Echoes II (1963), Antiphones (1963), Diario 87 – as well as his Solitude of Sounds (1975).  The second CD is by John Tilbury, who plays his own Improvisation for Tomasz Sikorski (2011) alongside Sikorski’s Autograph (1980), Rondo (1984) and Zertstreutes Hinausschauen (1971).

The Bôłt series is a fascinating and inventive mix of archival performances and new interpretations and I’ll be doing a substantial survey of some of its repertoire – around ten CDs – in the near future.

Unfortunately, I was double-booked that night and had the chance to hear only two of the Sikorski pieces in Esztényi’s recital, including Sikorski’s Sonant (1967).  I was immediately struck by the correlation between Sikorski’s remorseless, expressionless repetitions and the opening of Lutosławski’s Cello Concerto.  I wonder…

I rushed from south to north Warsaw via the magic of the metro, which offered relief from the temperatures which were plummeting towards -21C.  I was on my way to an informal supper party at Lutosławski’s house.  Unfortunately, I got lost on the way from the Plac Wilsona station and was lucky to find other souls out on the streets who could direct me towards Śmiała 39.  I recognised it immediately, although I’d not seen it in the snow before.

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The giveaway was the relief plaque on the wall.

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The house is now occupied by Lutosławski’s stepson and his wife, who welcomed us all inside with whiskey, wine and good food.  It was nice to relax and to be back in this special place.  At one point, we were led up to Lutosławski’s studio on the first floor (the lit window on the exterior photograph above), where I had spent three days exploring his books, sketches and scores in September 2002.  The arm of the studio containing his desk and main bookshelves (by the lit window) is much as I remember it, whle some of the other bookshelves have been removed or replaced.  Sadly, Lutosławski’s 1970 carpet that he bought in London is no more, revealing the clunky parquet flooring which he had covered over for acoustic purposes.

Day 4 (Sunday, 27 January)

Bitterly cold again.  A morning trip to visit the newly opened gallery at the National Museum devoted to 20th-century and 21st-century Polish art.  It’s really good.  The Poles have developed such an extraordinary visual acuity, teamed with a range of symbolism (much of it socio-political), that every item has something intriguing and stimulating to offer.  There was Leopold Lewicki’s sculpture Musical Composition (1935), which offered multiple cubist viewpoints.

Leopold Lewicki Musical Composition 1935

There were several pieces by Władysław Strzemiński, whose unistic paintings so inspired Krauze’s music in the 1960s.  His little piece Cubism – tensions of material structure (1921) was particularly striking.

Strzemiński Cubism (1921)

The period since 1945 was represented by some socialist-realist pieces through to contemporary film and video.  If you are going to Warsaw, do visit.  I was most thrilled to see in the flesh again Bronisław Linke’s Autobus, about which I have enthused previously in these pages.  Close-up (and you can get much closer to the artwork here than in most of the other galleries I go to), this is a stunning, visceral work that has lost none of its power to shock since it was painted just over 50 years ago.

After a family lunch with my friends, it was off to the Lutosławski Studio at Polish Radio for a concert by the Polish Radio SO conducted by Łukasz Borowicz: Lutosławski’s Little Suite in its original version for chamber orchestra, Penderecki’s Piano Concerto in its revised version, and Stravinsky’s Symphony in C.  This is a lively orchestra, giving its all to two relatively minor pieces by the Polish composers (I’m afraid that Penderecki’s Piano Concerto is as vacuous and overscored a piece as it was when I heard its Polish premiere in the original version in 2002; others disagree).

Day 5 (Monday, 28 January)

andrzej-chlopecki-przewodnik-po-muzyce-witolda-lutoslawskiego-postslowie-okladka-2013-01-29-530x635I was back at Polish Radio this afternoon for the press launch of a book on Lutosławski by Andrzej Chłopecki, who died last autumn.  It is subtitled ‘Przewodnik po muzyce Witolda Lutosławskiego’ and is available only in Polish.  I’ll return in a future post to this rather special guide, to a new photo album and an 8-CD box set of archival recordings also published to mark Lutosławski’s centenary.

My final Lutosławski experience was in the evening’s concert by the Wrocław PO under its conductor Jacek Kaspszyk.  The main item was Lutosławski’s Piano Concerto, played by Garrick Ohlsson, who won the Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 1970.  He was still feeling his way into the piece (he’d played it for the first time just two days earlier, but every performer has to start somewhere!) and frankly there was no comparison with Krystian Zimerman’s magical performance in London with the Philharmonia under Esa-Pekka Salonen two days later.  In the same way that the Philharmonia celebrations for Lutosławski are pairing him with two of his favourite composers (Debussy and Ravel), the Wrocław PO completed its concert with dynamic performances of Stravinsky’s Firebird suite and Ravel’s La Valse.

And so, as the temperature rose on Tuesday to a balmy 0C, I left Warsaw for London, thoroughly invigorated and grateful to friends old and new for five days of celebration for a composer who has been hugely important to me since I was a student.

Oh, the brush!

The Poles are so imaginative.  The Adam Mickiewicz Institute, which along with the Institute of Music and Dance and the Witold Lutosławski Society has brought these events to fruition, decided to give a special present to its guests on Friday evening at the Philharmonic.  It looked at first glance like an old-fashioned pencil box.

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On opening it, there was a familiar, early photo of Lutosławski working at his piano.

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Underneath, inside the box, was a pencil and a mini version of the brush in the photo.

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What was it for, you may ask?  Clue: Lutosławski worked in pencil, frequently rubbing out and correcting his sketches and scores.  And he was a naturally tidy man and disliked mess…  I remember seeing a brush on his desk when I was in his studio in 2002, so this resonated with me.  What a brilliant gift to bring back home!

• Lutosławski Centenary Week in Poland

image_galleryI thought it might be of interest to show how Poland is celebrating Lutosławski’s centenary in its concerts over the coming seven days.  I’ve drawn my information mainly from the official Lutosławski Year website, 100/100 Lutosławski.  The site is now much more populated with events and information than it was when it was launched a month ago, so it’s well worth a visit.

Monday, 21 January 2013

The Łódż PO’s January with Lutosławski festival begins with a talk by the President of the Witold Lutosławski Society, Grzegorz Michalski.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

January with Lutosławski continues with events around the String Quartet and the composer’s approach to the psychology of listening.

Concert by the National Philharmonic CO, conducted by Jakub Chrenowicz: Lutosławski Preludes and Fugue, Panufnik Violin Concerto (Isabelle van Keulen) and Beethoven Grosse Fuge (orch. Weingartner)

Thursday, 24 January 2013

‘Sunspots’, a contemporary realisation of popular songs that Lutosławski wrote in 1957-63 under the pseudonym ‘Derwid’, by the composer and singer Agata Zubel and the cellist Andrzej Bauer, with electronics by Cezary Duchnowski and Ewa Guziołek-Tubelewicz.  This looks absolutely fascinating, and if I weren’t scheduled to be in Warsaw I’d certainly want to be at this concert and the post-concert discussion.

Chain X festival (24 January – 9 February)
Opening concert by AUKSO CO, conducted by Marek Moś: Lutosławski Funeral Music, ‘The Sea’ from Five Songs (Roksana Wardenga), Grave (Marcin Zdunik) and Paroles tissées (Marcel Beekman), plus poetry by Valéry, Michaux and Nowid (Maja Komorowska).
Streamed live at 18.30 GMT on http://www.worldconcerthall.com via Polish Radio Dwójka.

Concert by the Lutosławski Quartet of Wrocław with Garrick Ohlsson: Lutosławski String Quartet and Bartók Piano Quintet.

Friday, 25 January 2013 – Centenary Day

Concert by National SO of Polish Radio, conducted by Alexander Liebreich: Lutosławski Symphony no.4, Cello Concerto (Miklós Perényi) and Concerto for Orchestra.
Streamed live at 18.30 GMT on http://www.worldconcerthall.com via Polish Radio Dwójka.

A lunchtime discussion on the Cello Concerto between the cellists Tomasz Daroch and Andrzej Bauer and the conductor Joshua Dos Santos.
Evening concert: Gershwin Cuban Overture, Lutosławski Cello Concerto (Tomasz Daroch) and Brahms Symphony no.2.

Inaugural concert of Lutosławski Year
National PO, conducted by Antoni Wit: Szymański Sostenuto (premiere), Lutosławski Symphony no.3 and Partita-Interlude-Chain 2 (Anne-Sophie Mutter).

Concert by the Lutosławski PO of Wrocław, conducted by Jacek Kaspszyk: Lutosławski Fanfare for Louisville, Piano Concerto (Garrick Ohlsson), Stravinsky Firebird Suite and Ravel La Valse.  This concert will be repeated in Warsaw on Monday 28 January.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Concert by Silesian PO, conducted by Wojciech Michniewski: Lutosławski Funeral Music, Piano Concerto (Beata Bilińska) and Symphony no.3.

Concert by the Lublin PO: Lutosławski Partita-Interlude-Chain 2 (Krzysztof Jakowicz) and Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances, with post-concert reminiscences of Lutosławski by Jakowicz.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Concert by Polish Radio SO, conducted by Łukasz Borowicz: Lutosławski Little Suite (original version for chamber orchestra), Penderecki Piano Concerto (Florian Uhlig) and Stravinsky Symphony in C.  In all the flurry of Lutosławski activity, we mustn’t forget that 2013 marks the 80th anniversary of the births of Krzysztof Penderecki (23 November) and Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (6 December).
Streamed live at 18.30 GMT on http://www.worldconcerthall.com via Polish Radio Dwójka.

• 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!

• Lutosławski in the January pipeline

I have just been invited by the Polish Minister of Culture to join the Honorary Committee for Witold Lutosławski Year in 2013, which is an honour in itself.  I’m never quite sure what honorary committees do or are expected to do, but I promise to knuckle down and contribute as best I can.

Having just spent a few weeks preparing for last Saturday’s CD Review round-up of Lutosławski CDs on BBC Radio 3 – an hour’s discussion, live-on-air, with Andrew McGregor – I thought I’d have a few days off.  But Lutosławski continues to beckon.  So here are a few things that are coming up in the next month or so, not all of them yet accomplished.

• Around now, a German translation by Andrea Huterer of my paper ‘Lutosławski and Literature‘ (2010) will appear in ‘Witold Lutosławski. Ein Leben in der Musik’, Osteuropa 11-12 (Berlin, 2012).  This issue is being supported by the Polish Institute in Berlin.

• I’ve just written a very brief essay on ‘Lutosławski and his Performers‘ for the Polish Institute in Brussels.  It is for a Lutosławski tribute to be published in Dutch and French in January 2013 (all three versions should also be available online via www.culturepolonaise.eu).

• Also in January 2013, an interview I did a couple of months ago will appear in a centenary tribute to Lutosławski being published (in Polish) by the Wrocław Philharmonic.  The orchestra is not only named after Lutosławski but is the driving force behind the Opera Omnia series of Lutosławski CDs on the Accord label.

• On 23 January I am discussing Lutosławski’s Cello Concerto with Johannes Moser, in a pre-concert event for the Bournemouth SO, which gave the world premiere in October 1970.  This is part of the bicentenary celebrations of the Royal Philharmonic Society, which commissioned the concerto.  (The actual RPS anniversary is the next day, 24 January.)  I’m really looking forward to this encounter, at the Poole Lighthouse, between a music historian and one of the many young cellists who have taken this concerto into their repertoire.  The Lutosławski centenary falls two days later, on 25 January, when I might just pop over to Warsaw for the Polish inauguration of Witold Lutosławski Year.

• The Philharmonia Orchestra begins its Lutosławski series Woven Words on 30 January at the Royal Festival Hall in London.  Accompanying the series will be a substantial celebratory programme which includes several essays.  My ‘Parallel Lives of a Captive Muse‘ is one of them.  It’s already been published on the Woven Words website.

• Watch out for the fifth Lutosławski CD, with the BBC SO and Edward Gardner, which Chandos is releasing early in 2013 in its ‘Muzyka Polska’ series (First Symphony, Dance Preludes, Partita and Chain 2).  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing the booklet notes for these outstanding recordings and it’s been an(other) honour to be associated with it.

• I am currently writing a substantial profile of Lutosławski and his music for publication in late Spring 2013 (watch this space, and others!).

Well, I think those seven items are more than enough to be going on with!

• Poles launch ‘100/100 Lutosławski’

18619_437344239663934_545288166_nLutosławski year was officially launched in Warsaw yesterday under the banner ‘100/100 Lutosławski’.  A new website has been published (in Polish/English), but precise details of events are yet to be fully revealed.  I outlined the details of the Philharmonia’s splendid Woven Words website, launched in October, in an earlier post.  Here, I’ll outline what has so far emerged from Polish sources.


• http://lutoslawski.culture.pl/web/lutoslawskien  The ‘100/100 Lutosławski’ website, hosted by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, is a companion to the one launched to mark the 75th anniversary of Szymanowski‘s death earlier this year. It currently has a three SoundCloud clips (Concerto for Orchestra, Symphonies 3 and 4), though not all the clips and the accompanying notes are credited.  There’s a short video discussion between Steven Stucky and Esa-Pekka Salonen as well as videos shared with the Woven Words website.  Its Calendar of events has still to be unveiled, and its list of Resources consists at the moment only of a short bibliography that has got as far as the letter ‘R’ (so no Stucky yet…).  No doubt the whole website will become more fully populated in the coming days and weeks.
• http://www.lutoslawski.org.pl/en/lutoslawski2013/info  This is the home of the Witold Lutosławski Society, which has existed since the late 1990s.  Like ‘100/100 Lutosławski’, it has both a Polish and an English site.  It promises details shortly.  By the way, for anyone with a short orchestral piece close to hand, the WLS is hosting a composition competition with a deadline of 25 January 2013, the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth.  The competition’s regulations may be accessed here.


The Lutosławski components of the Warsaw Philharmonic’s forthcoming programmes have been published for some time and may be found by scrolling the Warsaw Philharmonic’s concert schedule.  Its celebrations begin on 11 January 2013.  Until the ‘100/100 Lutosławski’ Calendar is uploaded, you can find details of quite a few concerts worldwide at https://www.facebook.com/LutoslawskiCentennialCelebration, under ‘About’.


It seems to me that it has been non-Polish ensembles and recording companies who have been taking the lead in this area of activity, notably the BBC SO under Edward Gardner for Chandos (4 CDs since 2010, a fifth on its way). Next month, Sony re-releases the Los Angeles PO/Salonen recordings of Symphonies 2-4 plus their newly-recorded version of the First Symphony.  The Polish Accord label started its Lutosławski Opera Omnia series in 2008, but there has been no further release since the third CD in 2010.  I am not privy to Polish recordings planned for release in 2013.  I am, however, very excited by the two ventures outlined below.

UnknownAs part of the official launch yesterday in the Witold Lutosławski Studio at Polish Radio and Television, the Polish National Audiovisual Institute (NInA) issued a press release (in Polish) containing the following information:

• A unique collection of recordings will be made available on the nina.gov.pl portal in the second half of 2013. All of Lutosławski’s compositions will be uploaded in at least one performance.  (As the 80th birthdays of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (d. 2010) and Krzysztof Penderecki also fall in 2013, their music will be similarly covered by NInA next year.)  This online collection – drawn from Polish Radio archives – will be developed further in due course.  Its accompanying texts, by the late Polish Radio broadcaster and musicologist Andrzej Chłopecki, will be available in both Polish and English.

• NInA will also issue a six-disc set called ‘Lutosławski/świat’ (Lutosławski/World) – 5 CDs and a DVD – in the second half of 2013.  The vast majority of these recordings, from Polish Radio and WFDF (Documentary and Feature Film Studio), are being released for the first time.  They include archive recordings conducted by Lutosławski, and the booklet notes, many by young musicologists, promise fresh perspectives.  The project editor is Adam Suprynowicz.

What is especially interesting in the Polish context is the promise that Lutosławski’s complete output will be represented, including those works (socialist-realist pieces, film music and popular songs) which, as the press release says, ‘he himself sometimes wanted to forget’.  This promises to be a fascinating document, one which sets Lutosławski’s rich legacy of pieces and recordings in the broadest possible context.

• 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.

• Lutosławski Centenary 2013: Philharmonia

We are still over two months from the actual centenary of the birth of Witold Lutosławski (25 January 2013), but things are already hotting up.  I, for one, am busy preparing copy for Belgium, Germany and the UK, and this morning I’m doing a telephone interview for the in-house magazine of the Witold Lutosławski PO in Wrocław.

But by far the most intensive preparations outside Poland – so far – have been taking place in London for the Philharmonia Orchestra’s three-concert series at the South Bank Centre in January and March next year.  The soloists are Krystian Zimerman, Truls Mørk, Jennifer Koh and Matthias Goerne.  There are also three associated chamber recitals and one orchestral concert performed by students from the Royal College of Music.  Most of the concerts place Lutosławski’s music alongside repertoire by other composers: Chopin, Szymanowski, Roussel, Ligeti and (principally) Ravel and Debussy.

And that’s not all: the Philharmonia is taking parts of its Lutosławski programme – called ‘Woven Words’ after his piece Paroles tissées (1965) – to nine other cities between February and September 2013: Tokyo, Warsaw, Modena, Oviedo, Madrid, Dresden, Vienna, Ljubljana and Berlin.  Full details of the programme and schedule may be found at http://woven-words.co.uk, but here’s a list of the pieces by Lutosławski that are being performed in London by the Philharmonia and the Royal College of Music.

Philharmonia  30 January: Musique funèbre and Piano Concerto.  7 March: Cello Concerto and Concerto for Orchestra.  21 March: Symphony no.4, Les Espaces du sommeil and Chain 2.
RCM  4 February: String Quartet.  6 February: Jeux vénitiens and Symphony no.3.  27 February: Two Studies and Bucolics.  6 March: Mini Overture, Fanfare for CUBE, Epitaph, Subito, Grave and Dance Preludes.

The Philharmonia doesn’t do things by halves.  There was a press launch in  London in late October (unfortunately while I was in Warsaw), fronted by the two men whose idea this celebration has been: the conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, who knew Lutosławski well and has long championed his music,  and the composer Steven Stucky, the author of the eloquent Lutosławski and His Music (1981).  The Philharmonia’s website http://woven-words.co.uk is a substantial achievement in itself, with a gallery of archival photographs assembled, special films made and essays written for the occasion.


Salonen and Stucky travelled to Poland in the summer of 2012.  The results may be seen in five contextually stimulating films in which they chart Lutosławski’s life and work, with archive stills and footage as well as a wealth of location shots (I liked the appearance of Blikle’s famous café in ‘World War II’!).  Some of Lutosławski’s rarely seen manuscripts are discussed (especially in ‘Stalinist Years’) and there are excerpts from the music (the main footage being of the Concerto for Orchestra).  Archive footage of the composer is also incorporated.  The widow of Władysław Szpilman (The Pianist) appears in the third film, while  Charles Bodman Rae (first two films) and Zbigniew Skowron (fourth film) also make telling contributions.

• Early Life
• World War II
• Stalinist Years
• Maturity
• In Conversation


The Philharmonia has commissioned five essays, which I understand will also appear in the programme book for the series (Steven Stucky’s insightful notes for the orchestral programmes are also presented in advance on the website).

Steven Stucky, ‘Remembering Lutosławski’
Charles Bodman Rae, ‘Lutosławski and the Scars of Wars’
Adrian Thomas, ‘Lutosławski- Parallel Lives of a Captive Muse’
Nicholas Reyland, ‘Essences and Essentials: Lutosławski’s Musical Stories’
Zbigniew Skowron, ‘Lutosławski’s Aesthetics and Their Sources’

My own essay is also available on this site here.

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