• Witold Lutosławski
  • Symphony No. 1 [1.Symfonia] (1947)

  • Chester Music Ltd (Worldwide except Poland, Albania, Bulgaria, China, countries of former Czechoslovakia, Croatia, former territories of Yugoslavia, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, Romania, Hungary and countries of former USSR)

Chester Music is the publisher of this work in all territories except Poland, Albania, Bulgaria, China, countries of the former Czechoslovakia, countries of the former Yugoslavia, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, Romania, Hungary and the whole territory of the former USSR, where the copyright is held by Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne (PWM).

  • 2(pic)+pic.3(ca).3(Ebcl:bcl).2+cbn4331timp.3perchp.pf.celstr
  • 25 min

Programme Note

The composer started working on his first symphony just before the war which made it significantly difficult to continue. During that time only some separate parts of the opus were created, eventually the year of 1947 brought the final version of Symphony No. 1. This composition is built according to the classic four-part symphonic model with scherzo in the third place. The forms of particular parts also refer to tradition, especially of the first, which was shaped as a dual-theme sonata-allegro form (Allegro giusto).

Apart from numerous references to the past - there are distinct inspirations from Prokofiev, Bartók and Roussel - the opus doesn't lack new and individual solutions which are heard not only in the orchestral colouring but also in the developed counterpoint technique connected with motif work. In Symphony No. 1 a listener is hit with its unusual vitality, especially in the utmost parts. Ebullient energy characterises all rapid fragments and the intricate metro-rhythmic changes highlight the impetus of the music. The source of these outstanding rhythmic effects which intensify the spontaneity are either added or subtracted rhythmic values and irregular accents. It is superbly demonstrated in the preparation of the culmination of the first part. Many of these ideas were implemented by Lutosławski later - in an even more striking form - in Concerto for Orchestra. In spite of the general tonal frames (D-major), in Symphony No. 1 there are harmonies and melodic passages indicating that its author was already looking for new and unique solutions in the domain of sound material organisation. Therefore, immediately in the first bar appear peculiar harmonies consisting of two tetrads (in the future Lutosławski will be building twelve-note chords similarly). Furthermore, the sequences of sounds are equally interesting; for example the third part (Allegretto Misterioso) begins with mysteriously sounding pizzicati played by double basses which perform the twelve-note row - the first of that kind in Lutosławski's music. The texture of the opus is penetrated throughout by the imitation technique. It relates to both whole themes appearing in the canon (e.g. the second theme of the first part) and to small motifs betraying their affinity to Bartók's polyphonic technique.

Symphony No. 1 is dedicated to Grzegorz Fitelberg who was its first performer on April, 1st 1948 in Katowice along with Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra. At the moment of its birth, this symphony was not only one of the greatest achievements of the 35 year old Lutosławski, but also the best symphonic opus of those years. [Krzysztof Meyer]

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Symphony No. 1: I. Allegro giusto
Symphony No. 1: II. Poco adagio
Symphony No. 1: III. Allegretto misterioso
Symphony No. 1: IV. Allegro vivace

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