Born in Warsaw in 1913, Lutosławski showed prodigious musical and intellectual talent from an early age. His composition studies in Warsaw ended at a politically difficult time for Poland so his plans for further study in Paris were replaced by a period which included military training, imprisonment by the Germans and escape back to Warsaw, where he and his compatriot Andrzej Panufnik played in cafes their own compositions and transcriptions. After the war, the Stalinist regime banned his first symphony (1941-47) as 'formalist', but he continued to compose and in 1958 his Musique Funèbre, in memory of Bartok, established his international reputation. His own personal aleatoric technique whereby the performers have freedom within certain controlled parameters was first demonstrated in his Jeux Venitiens (1961) and is to be found in almost all the later music Over the years, Witold Lutosławski was frequently inspired by particular ensembles and artists including the London Sinfonietta, Sir Peter Pears, Heinz and Ursula Holliger, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Mstislav Rostropovich and Anne-Sophie Mutter. His Symphony No. 4 was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and received its world premiere in February 1993 under the baton of the composer. A powerful work, it reflected his increasing concern with expansive melody. Among many international prizes awarded to this most modest man were the UNESCO Prize (1959,1968), the French order of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres (1982), Grawemeyer Award (1985), Royal Philharmonic Society Gold Medal (1986), in the last year of his life, the Swedish Polar Music Prize and the Inamori Foundation Prize, Kyoto, for his outstanding contribution to contemporary European music, and, posthumously, the International Music Award for best large-scale composition for the fourth symphony. Lutosławski's contribution to the musical world was enormous.
The Philharmonia Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen have launched a landmark project celebrating the centenary of the birth of one of the twentieth-century's most influential musical voices, Witold Lutosławski (1913-1994).
WOVEN WORDS: MUSIC BEGINS WHERE WORDS END is a pan-European portrait of Witold Lutosławski to celebrate his centenary, supported by Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of Polska Music programme. It includes orchestral music, chamber concerts, study days, film, online resources and commissioned articles celebrating the centenary of the birth of one of the century's most influential musical voices.
Esa-Pekka Salonen's tenure as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor has been dominated by landmark multi-disciplinary festivals, exploring the music of key 20th century composers and musical movements in their widest possible cultural, social and historical context. He commented:
Lutosławski is quite simply one of the most important voices of the twentieth century. This retrospective of his life, in what would have been his 100th birthday year, brings his absorbing, rich, intensely atmospheric music to new audiences, and our digital resources will create a lasting legacy that ensures that this anniversary lasts well beyond its 12-month duration, and the three months of our celebration. Our partnership with the Adam Mickiewicz Institute is allowing us to access source material, archive and historical material that has never been seen before outside Poland and illuminates Lutosławski's life and work in unprecedented ways. I can't wait to show the world everything that we are discovering.
For more information about Woven Words, please read the full article
Witold Lutosławski Biography: Early Life (Part 1) from Philharmonia Orchestra on Vimeo.
For more videos like this, please take a look at the Woven Words page on Vimeo.
To celebrate Lutosławski's centenary, Sony Classical has released a special 2-CD anniversary set of the composer's four symphonies, featuring a brand new recording of the Symphony No 1 performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Esa-Pekka Salonen. The box set was released on February 18, 2013 and will also include a new recording of the Fanfare for Los Angeles Philharmonic. You can order the disc here.
A new Apple App associated with Lutosławski, created by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Poland has recently been released which can be downloaded for free. The App features a worldwide calendar of performances and much more. It is available in English and Polish.
For more information about concerts and events celebrating Lutosławski happening around the world, please visit the official website run by the Adam Michiewicz Institute and the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Poland. This site provides visitors with details about the composer, concert information and essays on Polish culture and the arts.
Lutosławski Year 2013
For a calendar of performances of the works of Lutoslawski in his centenary year, please click here
Gramophone Magazine's online blog this month is all about Lutoslawski's Concerto for Cello and Orchestra. Take a look here