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100th Anniversary of the Witold Lutosławski's Birth
2013-01-25Today, January 25, we celebrate 100th anniversary of birthday of Witold Lutosławski – one of the greatest composers of 20th century. The composer, pianist and conductor, Witold Lutosławski, a leading figure in Polish music of the second half of the 20th century, was born in Warsaw on 25 January 1913 and died there on 7 February 1994. He studied piano with Jerzy Lefeld and composition under Wiktor Maliszewski, at the Warsaw Conservatory, graduating in 1936 and 1937, respectively. He also studied mathematics at the Warsaw University (1931-33). His first significant achievement as a composer was Symphonic Variations (1938), which was favourably received by both audiences and critics.
The Second World War interrupted his promising career as a composer. Lutosławski was involved in the struggle with the Germans in September 1939 and during the German occupation of Poland resided in Warsaw, earning his living as a pianist playing duets with Andrzej Panufnik in Warsaw cafes. The many transcriptions made by him at that time included Variations on a Theme of Paganini for two pianos composed in 1941 and still popular.
After the war his activities as an artist and composer became more intensive. He completed his First Symphony (1947) and made his debut at the "Warsaw Autumn" International Contemporary Music Festival in 1956 with his Little Suite (1950) and the Concerto for Orchestra (1954). Funeral Music, performed at this festival in 1958, earned him international fame with the first place at the UNESCO International Composers' Tribune in Paris (1959) as well as numerous performances throughout the world. Lutosławski was also awarded the UNESCO prizes for Venetian Games in 1962, Three Poems of Henri Michaux in 1964 and the Second Symphony in 1968.
Lutosławski also acted as a conductor focusing exclusively (from 1963) on the preparation and direction of his own works. He performed with many excellent soloists including Mstislav Rostropovich, Sophie-Anne Mutter and Krystian Zimerman as well as with world-famous orchestras. He sat on the juries of many composition competitions and participated in numerous international festivals. At the same time he gave (from 1962) courses for composers, lectures and seminars on music and composition in European and American musical institutions, increasingly presenting his own works exclusively.
He participated in the activities of many institutions and played a leading role in the Polish Composers' Union, the UNESCO International Musical Council, and the Programme Council of PWM Edition. In 1989 he became a member of the Citizens' Committee attached to the President of the "Solidarity" Independent Self-governing Trade Union and, in 1990, a member of the Polish Cultural Council.
That Lutosławski's activities as a composer and artist were held in great esteem was proved by numerous awards and Polish and foreign distinctions. He was awarded the most prestigious prizes including those of the Polish Composers' Union (1959, 1973), the National Prize, first class, (1955, 1964, 1978), the prize of the Minister of Culture and Art, first class (1962), the Artistic Prize of the Independent Culture Committee of the "Solidarity" Trade Union (1983); the Koussevitzky Prize (1964, 1976, 1986), the Jurzykowski Prize (1966), the Herder Prize (1967), the Ravel Prize (1971), the Sibelius Prize (1973), the Siemens Prize (1983), the Grawemeyer Prize (1985), the Queen Sophia of Spain Prize (1985) and the Kyoto Prize (1993). In 1993 in Stockholm he was the first composer of classical music to receive the Polar Music Prize, considered a musical Nobel Prize. In 1994 he received the highest Polish distinction: the Order of the White Eagle.
As one of the highest authorities on contemporary music he was accorded honorary membership of many art institutions, including the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, Freie Akademie der Künste in Hambourg, the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York and the Royal Academy of Music in London. He became an honorary member of the International Society of Contemporary Music, the Polish Composers' Union and the British Union of Professional Musicians. He received an honorary doctorate from a number of institutions including the Cleveland Institute of Music (1971), Warsaw University (1973), the Copernicus University in Toruń (1980), the Jagiellonian University in Cracow (1984), the University of Cambridge (1987), the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston (1990), Université des Sciences Humaines in Strasbourg (1990) and the McGill University in Montreal (1993). Festivals devoted entirely to his output have been held, and since 1990 the Witold Lutosławski Composition Competition has been organised by the National Philharmonic in Warsaw.
Witold Lutosławski created his own individual style built on a perfect compositional technique, notable for its modern sound language, innovations in respect of harmony, melody and temporal relations, mastery of form, conceptual originality, perfect realisation of detail, adherence to tradition and modernity as well as an ideal marrying of intellect and emotion. Of decisive importance was the introduction of the so-called "controlled aleatory usage", whose aim was the maximally individualised involvement of the players in collective performance. Beside works with an intense emotional charge, there are also serene works, full of hope and optimism. The composer's works for children as well as a number of treatises on the theory of music are also worthy of consideration.
Music is normally supposed to be listened to. Still, it also flows through our other senses. Is it, however, connected with them in a necessary and inseparable manner? After all, we can close our eyes, open up our imagination, and let unexpected experiences flow through our minds. On its brand-new 2CD release from the PORTRAITS series, the ANAKLASIS label invites you to play with your experiences and expectations. The album ACOUSMATIC MUSIC presents the philosophy of music as interpreted by one of the most intriguing contemporary composers – Marcin Stańczyk.
FOREFATHERS’ EVE by High Definition Quartet, a mesmerising fusion of jazz, ambient, and electronics, will also be available on a gramophone record as of 17th March. The album features a galaxy of experimental music stars and will be released in the REVISIONS series under the ANAKLASIS label, as the second vinyl in that label’s catalogue. Apart from the Quartet, this release brings together such world-famous giants of ambient as William Basinski, Krzysztof Knittel, Robert Rich, Christian Fennesz, and Igor Boxx of Skalpel Duo.
The Polish Music Library is the youngest member of the top flight of Polish libraries, exceptional in terms of its collection and unrivalled for accessibility. It is maintained by PWM Edition, the biggest Polish publisher of sheet music and books about music, which thanks to its international prestige effectively promotes the output of Polish composers around the world. PWM sums up this project, which has been realised since 2017, with an attractive animation presenting the process through which its resources have been digitised.
Does music call for gender equality? It can surely defend itself. Nonetheless, the artistic advantages of excellent present-day women-composers and their eminent predecessors are worthy of being noticed and highlighted. Women have their separate and distinctive voice in Polish music. In recognition of the need to acknowledge that voice, on 29th January ANAKLASIS will release the CD POLISH HEROINES OF MUSIC, comprising orchestral works by Elżbieta Sikora, Hanna Kulenty, Grażyna Bacewicz, and Agata Zubel.
A panorama of compositional output combining Polish and Yiddish inter-war hits with sorrowful, despairing tangos from the Ghetto. The disc Bajgelman. Get to Tango represents a twenty-first-century take on the output of the outstanding musician Dawid Bajgelman, from Łódź. These arrangements and reworkings of selected works by one of the greatest composers of Jewish theatre music were produced by the outstanding musician and composer Jarosław Bester. The album comes out on 11 December.
The ANAKLASIS record label, created by PWM just one year ago (on 22 November 2019), already boasts sixteen albums, and it shows no signs of slowing down, with further releases announced.
PWM Edition has launched a campaign and an international educational project, which brings the works by Polish composers closer to the audiences worldwide. ‘Music from Chopin’s Land’ encompasses more than just pieces by Chopin – it also means Paderewski, Szymanowska, Moniuszko, Kilar, Kurpiński and many other composers.
On 7 November 2020, during a gala broadcast on TVP Kultura, the laureates of the 10th edition of the Coryphaeus of Polish Music awards were announced. The award for Event of the Year went to the premiere of Aleksander Nowak’s opera Drach. Dramma per musica, given at the AUKSODRONE festival. Aleksander Nowak’s work, to a libretto by Szczepan Twardoch based on his heralded novel, was rewarded for ‘emphasising local dimensions in universal processes, for the strength of its musical and cultural message’.
Paderewski was a great composer. Herdzin is a great improviser. The fusion of the worlds of these two musical giants has given rise to a new phenomenon, which we share with you today. On the 160th anniversary of the birth of Ignacy Jan Paderewski, it is time to prick up our ears to the most beautiful impressions on his music.
On 30 September, the call for applications for the International Composition Contest for Wind Orchestra Warsaw Wind Ensemble Composition Contest 2020 was closed. From almost 50 applications, the jury selected seven laureates and distinguished five compositions.