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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.
PWM Edition and Warsaw Wind Music Association invite to take part in the International Composition Contest for Wind Orchestra - Warsaw Wind Ensemble Composition Contest 2020. This is the first edition of the international competition for composers, the subject of which is to write a premiere composition for a concert wind orchestra.
The winners of the 10th International Stanisław Moniuszko Vocal Competition have been announced. The first prize goes to Maria Motolygina from Russia, while Alina Adamski won the PWM Edition Prize for the best performance of a Polish 20th/21st-century song.
On May 5th, the bicentenary of Stanisław Moniuszko’s birth will be celebrated throughout Poland. PWM Edition has already begun its celebrations earlier, and announced Stanisław Moniuszko our May COMPOSER OF THE MONTH.
More than 20 new sheet music publications, books and CD albums; nearly 90 reissues; performance materials for orchestras and opera houses; more than a hundred digital publications available worldwide; 7,000 pages of free access digitalised materials; more than a thousand unique graphics and photos; nearly 30 events for adult and young audiences – all these are part of PWM Edition’s celebrations programme prepared for the bicentenary of Stanisław Moniuszko’s birth.
We are very happy to inform that Tomasz Knittel’s film Mieczysław Karłowicz. Samotna wędrówka [Mieczysław Karłowicz. A Lone Journey], co-produced by PWM Edition and TVP (Polish state television broadcaster), won the Silver Pegasus during the gala of the 22nd Zakopane Festival of Films about Art held on 14th April.
PWM Edition is not just about sheet music and books. We are also involved in all kinds of educational activities, aiming to promote and support music education in both general and music schools. In this way we fulfil Plato’s postulate that “children ought to be taught music, physics and philosophy; but music in particular, because it contains models and all the skills that are crucial to learning”.
Since the first quarter of 2019 is already behind us, let us sum up PWM Edition’s educational enterprises in that period.
The world premiere of the most recent work by the highly regarded Polish composer Agata Zubel is to take place on 9th April 2019 at the Auditorium Marcel Landowski in Paris. The nine members of Ensemble 2e2m – one of France’s oldest and most renowned groups of this kind – will perform 3x3 for 9 instruments. The conductor is Pierre Roulllier.
The concert is part of the cycle “It Is a Woman’s World (Too)”.
“A three-day festival of new music; seven concerts, two installations, nearly fifteen hours of music – only the most recent works. Thirty composers, more than half of whom are associated with PWM Edition – all this has made me happy, and I am leaving Katowice one hundred per cent satisfied,” said Daniel Cichy PhD, Director and Editor-in-Chief of PWM Edition, summing up the 8th Festival of Premieres in Katowice, which came to its close last Sunday.
In our gallery of COMPOSERS OF THE MONTH, we present today the figure of Sławomir Kupczak, our April Composer of the Month.
On 1st April 2019 the post of editor-in-chief of “Ruch Muzyczny” will be taken over by Piotr Matwiejczuk, who replaces Tomasz Cyz, head of the editorial board since 2013.