Born in Poland
Parents were landed nobility, Father politically active.
Family moved to Russia in 1915, and stayed until 1918.
Back to Poland in 1918, started piano study.
Age 12 violin study begins. Age 19 composition study begins
Only composition teacher was Witold Maliszewski (studied with Rimsky) at Warsaw Conservatory.
First big premiere, Symphonic Variations in 1939 by Polish Radio Symphony
During WWII he was stationed with Krakow Army, until captured by German soldiers.
He played in café musical group until he left in 1944 with his mom.
1st symphony sketches survived. It was premiered in 1948
1947 Stalinist political climate caused him to resign from position w/ Polish Union of Composers. (His work was considered formalist).
Stalin’s death in 1953 relaxed the climate. Wrote Musique Funebre which displayed his 12 note system, and counterpoint
Concerto for Orchestra in 1954 was a big break for him.
Jeux Venetiens (1961) – He considered it his first mature work. Inspired by John Cage’s Concert for Piano and Orchestra
Other notable works: 3 more symphonies, String Quartet, Song Cycle, Cello Concerto.
Martial Law in Poland from 1981-1988.
Was awarded Poland’s highest honor, the Order of the White Eagle, a few weeks before his death on Feb. 7, 1994.
Small chamber orchestra (30 players), used static textural clouds that Ligeti/Xenakis would utilize.
Harmony utilizes 12 pitch chords (built with 4th’s and 5th’s)
He said he was more from school of Stravinsky and Debussy, and not Second Viennese School.
Score marks sections A-H
Some sections aleatoric, some conducted
Two contrasting sound textures:
Airy/Rhythmic WW (eventually percussion, brass, piano)
Brooding, Sustained Strings
Percussion triggers changes between textures
This is Lutoslawski conducting Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra.
Scherzo in triple meter
No aleatory, acts as transition into 3rd movement.
Density builds, Piano chord around minute mark, and then dissipates
12 note chord in piano (built on 4ths and 5ths) occurs 13 times.
Features fleeting lines in harp, piano, flute which are punctuated by forceful string chords.
Features a dialogue of WW/Strings that is interwoven (as opposed to 1st mvmt.)
Frenetic piano follows, then Brass and Woodwind build intensity, Percussion takes over, then coda.
http://woven-words.co.uk/ - information on his centenary celebration in 2013.
http://articulatesilences.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/jeux-venitiens-witold-lutoslawski/- specific information of Jeux Venitiens. Click on index, and then the composers are listed by last name.