• WL100/80: Lutosławski’s Chair

When the BBC Radio 3 Music Matters team was preparing for its profile of Lutosławski to mark the centenary of his birth (broadcast on 19 January 2013), its web page included several archive photos of the composer plus one taken on location by his stepson, Marcin Bogusławski.  This photo was of his studio, with his desk and bookshelves.

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It is interesting to compare this photo from 2013 with the one taken by me in September 2002

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and with the undated one taken much earlier by Malcolm Crowthers with Lutosławski at his desk.  It was used for the front cover and inside flap of O muzyce. Pisma i wypowiedzi (Gdańsk, 2011), the Polish version of Lutosławski on Music (Plymouth, 2007).

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Crowthers’ photo is self-evidently the earliest of the three, with Lutosławski gazing out of the window from his desk, which is much fuller of materials than when I took my shot.  (See also my photos in WL100/72: Lutosławski’s Desk and WL100/74: Lutosławski Rules!.)  Bogusławski’s photo has many, but by no means all, of the same books on the shelves, often in a different order.  It also has the accoutrements of modern technology, in which Lutosławski had no interest: a computer and printer.  His typewriter is still there, as are the painting on the end wall and the wooden library steps underneath.  There is, however, a noticeably new office chair.

I cannot tell from Crowthers’ photo what Lutosławski was sitting on, but I would hazard a strong guess that it was the office chair that was still tucked into the desk in 2002.  Sadly, it was in a parlous state by then.  The padded seat was in a bad way and the adjustable back had lost its upright position and leaned impossibly towards the floor.

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It was something deeply melancholic to see it in this state of disrepair, its occupant long absent.  It was a reminder of how much Lutosławski had written from this chair and how much he was missed.

Incidentally, on the seat in the background of my photo is the growing pile of materials that I and Nicholas Reyland made during our three days in the house in 2002.  It contained conducting scores and folders of manuscript materials etc..  On the top we put a note to suggest that they should all go to the Paul Sacher Foundation in Basle to join the rich array of other items that Lutosławski had deposited there.  I do not know if that was ever done; I hope so.

Tomorrow will bring the last of my WL100 posts.  (Better late than never.)  To give you a sporting chance of guessing what it might be, here is a choice of score lines (ho-ho):

• Roussel 3, Lutosławski 1
• Roussel 3, Lutosławski 3

Happy New Year!

• WL100/75: Lutosławski’s Bookshelves

I took the opportunity when spending three days researching in Lutosławski’s house in September 2002 of taking shots (with permission) of his bookcases: in his studio, the attic room, the upper hallway and the lounge.  It now turns out that in the intervening years many of the volumes on these shelves have been dispersed and so these photos – which I believe were little touched since the composer’s death and that of his wife in 1994 – are perhaps the only surviving survey of Lutosławski’s collection.

Studio

The first floor studio is L-shaped, or, more accurately, reversed L-shaped.  The entrance was along the inside wall of the short limb of the L and the first sight that greeted visitors was Lutosławski’s much photographed grand piano.  His wife Danuta moved it out after his death and replaced it with her bed.  Neither piano nor bed was there in 2002.  I took two photographs of the long limb of the room.  The first looks from the patio doors towards the desk (the piano would have been on the immediate left).

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The bookcase beyond the desk contained reference volumes, mainly dictionaries; handy for when Lutosławski was writing letters or programme notes.

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Behind him, along the wall hidden from view on the main photograph, were shelves and cupboards, with a number of souvenir items, awards etc. on display.  Here there were more reference volumes (such as a Grove dictionaries), other books (including two copies of Steven Stucky’s monograph and my own little volume on Bacewicz) plus his collection of scores by other composers (of which more anon).  It had three divisions; here they are reading from left to right.

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The second location photo looks from the entrance to the corner behind the coffee table, with the patio windows onto the veranda just out of shot to the right.  The desk and other shelving are over the left shoulder.

134-3417_IMGThis corner shelving contained quite a miscellany, with Lutosławski’s books of and on foreign literature, especially French poetry, plus other volumes on composers plus his (incomplete) run of ‘Warsaw Autumn’ programme books. Among the items that I found here, but which has sadly now disappeared according to his daughter-in-law, was the one containing his annotation of Desnos’s poem Les espaces du soleil (it can be seen in the second of the next group of photographs, bottom shelf, sixth from the right). In order to try and capture as much of the detail as I could, I split each of the bookcases into top and bottom, so the following sequence runs top right, bottom right, top left, bottom left.

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Attic

It was in the attic that I discovered the folder containing Lutosławski’s collected folk materials (1950-54) which I have written and talked on several times since.  Also here were two cupboards containing spare copies of his published scores.  Other bookshelves contained a wide range of books for which there was no room downstairs.

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Landing

On the first-floor landing was a single bookcase, holding a non-musical selection of books, notably volumes by Stanisław Dygat, the brother of Lutosławski wife.  The top shelf contains Hedrick Smith’s The Russians, which spends a couple of paragraphs reporting the reception of the Russian premiere of Lutosławski’s Cello Concerto in 1972.

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Lounge

As a low-level partition, there was a double-sided bookcase containing primarily Polish literature, plays (Genet, Ibsen and Shaw among them) and philosophical volumes.  My apologies that the second photo is poorly focused.

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