Witold Lutosławski - a classic of XXth-century music


Witold Lutosławski, fot. FORUM
Witold Lutosławski, fot. Jan Morek /Forum

Witold Lutosławski is the greatest Polish composer of the second half of the 20th century, and one of the greatest music artists of the previous century.

He was an honorary member of the International Society for Contemporary Music, a doctor honoris causa of many universities in Poland and abroad, including Krakow, Warsaw, Torun, Chicago, Glasgow, Cambridge, Durham and Cleveland, and also a professor teaching at Tanglewood, Darlington, Essen, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and other music schools.

Lutosławski was a supporter of the autonomy of music, which to him was an absolute art. His output is characterized by great simplicity. He represented a completely independent and individual composing style, with a wealth of ideas related to sound, an impressive formal discipline, and "intellectual" emotionalism. Starting from neoclassicism, experimenting with avant-garde techniques such as aleatorism and sonorism, and incorporating elements of Polish folklore, he developed a new musical language: poetical, refined, and imaginative. Near the end of his life, he returned to the roots, turning to simpler texture and harmony, neoclassical rhythms and melodies.

His maturing as an artist took place in Warsaw, where he was born and where he returned just after World War I, after the tragic events of his stay in Moscow, where the Bolsheviks executed his father and his uncle in 1918 for their involvement in patriotic activities. This fact, to which the composer seldom referred in interviews or conversations, must have left an indelible mark on his consciousness and, indirectly, on the expressiveness of his works.

Lutosławski's only teacher of composition was Witold Maliszewski - a conservative artist and an enthusiast of late-Romantic Russian music. He cannot have been very keen on the modern sound solutions offered by his young student. Nevertheless, it was to Maliszewski that Lutosławski owed a thorough knowledge of the composer's craft as well as a unique approach to musical form. This later resulted in his own original, dramaturgical concept of form, founded on creating musical "action". This concept was related to his studies of form in the music of Beethoven. They made Lutosławski realize the inspirational importance of the classical-Romantic tradition and the possibility of using it in new music. The formal patterns taken from that tradition (besides the solutions applied by Beethoven, Haydn's ideas also caught Lutosławski's attention) became an impulse that he transformed in his creative imagination and included in his musical language, especially in the great symphonic and vocal-instrumental forms.

From then on, classical elements became permanent components of Lutosławski's artistic consciousness, his poetics and aesthetics. Apart from his unique sense of form, he also had an exceptional sense of order in sound, of perfectly organized sound matter, understood not only as the carrier of beauty in sound but also deep emotions.

"No succession of sounds", he said, "no consonance can be created without taking into consideration the details of expression, colour, character, physiognomy. Even the most minute detail has to satisfy the composer's sensitivity to the utmost degree. In other words, there cannot be any indifferent sounds in music."

Drawing from patterns from the past and transforming them, Lutosławski was at the same time an absolutely modern composer. The new music that surrounded him from his youth also posed an artistic challenge towards which he was never indifferent. Among the first influences of this kind is the work of Karol Szymanowski, to whom, after Szymanowski's untimely death in 1937, Lutosławski paid homage in an article entitled "Tchnienie wielkosci" ("A Breath of Greatness"). From among Szymanowski's works, the young Lutosławski was especially fascinated with Symphony No. 3 'Song of the Night'. He recalled many years later: "When I heard 'Symphony No. 3' at age 11, the entirety of contemporary music, the world of the 20th century, suddenly opened up before me." These youthful fascinations, however, gave place to the composer's own artistic visions.

The style of Lutosławski's early compositions displays significant constructivist features, concurrent with the European neoclassical trend of the time, and especially that of its variations which was based on the heritage of the classical past, drawing from it (especially formally and structurally) and infusing this past model with a timeless and universal meaning. Contrary to the slightly older Polish composers, including Grażyna Bacewicz, Michał Spisak and Stefan Kisielewski, who were also interested in the neoclassical style and increased the depth of their knowledge in Paris in the famous class of Nadia Boulanger, Lutosławski was too late to follow in their footsteps. World War II broke out, completely thwarting his life's plans.

After his initial participation in the war effort, Lutosławski returned to his home city of Warsaw, where the only permitted work allowing for any real contact with music were performances in the city's cafés. He shared this fate with Andrzej Panufnik, playing with him as a piano duo, performing their own transcriptions of many works from the classical repertoire. This extensive collection, practically all of which was consumed by fire during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, has left just a small trace to this day, in the form of the Variations on a Theme from Paganini for two pianos (1941), arranged in 1977-78 also for solo piano and orchestra.

Though the work of the main institutions of musical life in Warsaw halted in the tragic years of the Nazi occupation, this did not prevent Lutosławski from making his own artistic searches. From 1941, he worked on his first large-format orchestra work, Symphony No. 1. He completed it as late as 1947, already in the new post-war reality which was shortly to reveal all the negative qualities of socialist-realism cultural policy. To mention but its impact on music, the "iron curtain" which dropped in 1949 would not only isolate artists in Eastern Europe from new trends in the music of the West, but chiefly subject them to pressure from government political programmes. From that time, the only way out for many artists wanting to preserve their creative independence was to leave the country, a choice made by such composers as Roman Palester and Andrzej Panufnik. Others who stayed in Poland had to succumb or decided to withdraw into utility art. Lutosławski chose the latter option. In 1948 he had an unpleasant experience after the premiere of Symphony No. 1 in Katowice. This work, based in a masterly way on the classical canons of form and texture, was counted among the "formalist" works. This was a label that branded works which did not meet the authorities' requirements, and one that condemned the creators to artistic oblivion. Soon enough, this became Lutosławski's fate, too.

Lutosławski's composing in the late 1940's and early 1950's came within the bounds of two trends. The first included works for children and young people, music for numerous theatre productions as well as popular music, which he wrote under the name "Derwid". Among this group of works, the ones worth particular notice include Straw Chain and other children's pieces for soprano, mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra (1950-51), Bucolics for piano (1952), and Dance Preludes (1954). The second trend comprised just a few works with a larger cast: the Overture for Strings (1949), Little Suite for orchestra (1950-51), and Silesian Triptych for soprano and orchestra (1951). Apart from the Overture, which clearly has constructivist qualities and is evidence of Lutosławski's scale (modal) exploration, the works of this period can be placed within the folkloristic style. However, these links to Polish folk music were not a concession to the official, standardized aesthetics, but a reference to an older tradition, established earlier by Karol Szymanowski. The work that crowns Lutosławski's experiments with folklorism is the Concerto for Orchestra (1950-54). This composition attracts the attention not only with its original use of folk material, but also the perfect mastery of the composer's craft, especially in terms of orchestration. What proves that folklore was not a substitute area for Lutosławski, or one constituting a way of surviving through the officially imposed aesthetics, is that the Concerto for Orchestra brings original solutions in terms of form. Some researchers see traces of the two-phase form that Lutosławski developed in his works from the 1960's.

The first breakthrough in his artistic career came in the mid-1950's, and was mainly the effect of the political changes after the "Polish October" of 1956. Whereas the existing political system was upheld, the restrictive bonds of the socialist-realism artistic doctrine were broken. For Polish composers, this October "thaw" meant access to innovations coming in from the West as well as enabling them to undertake their own artistic exploration and experiments. This change in the political situation is exemplified in Lutosławski's output by the unusually expressive Musique funebre / Funeral Music for string orchestra (1954-58), dedicated to the memory of Bela Bartok. This work presents new creative ideas based on the highly original use of 12-tone material, both in the horizontal (melodic) and the vertical (harmonic) dimension. Lutosławski's musical sketches, today in the collection of the Paul Sacher Archives in Basel, prove that the composer worked on this technique for many years, but could not present the results of his search to the public. The works composed after Funeral Music mark the extraordinary and dynamic evolution of his style and technique, an evolution that progressed in several areas. The first of these encompasses works inspired by the Western avant-garde, particularly the aleatoric technique: Jeux vénitiens for chamber orchestra (1960-61), String Quartet (1964) and Symphony No. 2 (1965-67).

Responding as it were to the all-encompassing aleatorism of John Cage, Lutosławski proposed his own solution, which he called "controlled aleatorism". This concept subjects to chance chiefly the rhythmic structure of a piece, whereas the pitch and harmony are specified. Besides strictly defined sections, the above works include ad libitum blocks, whose variable rhythmic physiognomy is reminiscent of Alexander Calder's mobiles in the visual arts. Lutosławski's controlled aleatorism, present in varying degrees in many of his later works, was born of the conviction that the musical structure and its aesthetic effect should be an expression of the artist's conscious activity and his responsibility for his own work, and therefore it should not be passed on to the performer. Another equally original innovation was the idea of a two-phase form comprising an introductory part (called "hésitant"), presenting the work's sound outline, its primary motifs and phrases, and the fundamental part ("direct") where the preliminary material appears in all its splendour and comprises the musical "dramaturgy". The classical models for this kind of two-phase form can be found in the String Quartet and Symphony No. 2. Another great work composed by Lutosławski in this period, Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (1969-70), is an example of the shaping of music seemingly just on the basis of the classical dialogue between soloist and orchestra. In truth, though, this dialogue develops into a real drama maintained over a wide emotional scale, full of strong contrasts: from quiet moods to unexpected outbursts of despair. The richness of Lutosławski's language of sounds in his orchestra works of the 1960's is exemplified by Livre pour orchestre (1968). In this work, the composer made extensive use of his 12-tone harmonic as well as microtone material. The listener's attention is also drawn to the work's unusually colourful sound - the result of original conjunctions of instrumental groups and single instruments from the orchestra. The series of great symphonic works described above also includes such pieces as the Preludes and Fugue for 13 solo strings (1970-72), Mi-parti (1975-76) and Novelette (1979).

A separate group of Lutosławski's works from the late 1950's and early 1960's is formed by his vocal-instrumental works. This series opens with Five Songs for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra, to texts by Kazimiera Iłlakowiczówna (1958). This is a piece in which Lutosławski's experience with 12-tone material is combined with an extraordinary sensitivity to the sound of the poetic text. In subsequent works of this kind, the composer turned to texts by French poets written in the surrealist convention. This resulted first in Trois poemes d'Henri Michaux for choir and orchestra (1961-63), followed by Paroles tissées for tenor and chamber orchestra to texts by Jean-François Chabrun (1965), and Les espaces du sommeil for baritone and orchestra to texts by Robert Desnos. These compositions are close to the impressionist tradition, especially in their extensive use of instrumental hues as well as the tone-colour approach to the vocal parts. They also carry an extraordinary expressive value. The music and lyrics are melted in them to form a new quality that serves to create a surreal, oneiric world in the wake of a loose series of poetical associations. Lutosławski's works from the 1960's show the crystallization of his individual, modern sound idiom, the resultant of his own experiments and transformed elements of the Western avant-garde. Lutosławski had a reserved attitude towards the latter. He appreciated the importance of radical innovations but he also realized they were volatile and transient.

"Novelty", he wrote, "is that quality of a work of art that ages the quickest. My search in the field of musical language is not aimed at innovation in itself. I am searching for such technical means which can be used many times and which will remain in the new repertoire of means of expression. In other words, I am looking for lasting values that do not immediately wear out."

Perhaps it was this view that led him to take a critical look at his own early output, and then on to new searches serving to restore the role of the melodic line and limit the 12-tone harmonic. He reverted to more toned-down sounds, closer to tonal structures. This road towards certain musical archetypes from the past opens with the Double Concerto for oboe, harp and chamber orchestra (1979-80), the first time since his ultra-modern sound solutions that Lutosławski reached for elements of Baroque composition techniques. Among these is the concentrating technique, and a special type of texture dominated not so much by blocks of sound as by linear structures. Giving privilege to linearity allowed to extract anew the value of melodic line as a traditional means of expression. That Lutosławski attached great importance to exploration of this area is proved by the series of chamber pieces that he composed in the late 1970's and early 1980's, including the Epitaph for oboe and piano (1979), Grave, Metamorphoses for cello and piano (1981), and Partita for violin and piano (1984). These are works whose modest cast allows the full value of the "thin texture" to be elicited, and which clearly confirm Lutosławski's turn towards musical tradition. Similarly to his mature period, when he drew from the avant-garde but never at the cost of his own creative individuality, also in his later period Lutosławski carried out a masterly synthesis of traditional elements and the previously developed components of his own language. This synthesis was performed in several dimensions.

The first of these is the great symphonic form, represented by Symphony No. 3 (1972-83). This is an excellent example of combining the mature 12-tone harmonic, innovative texture and sound solutions with thematic thinking and the archetype of the sonata form drawn from the classical-Romantic tradition.

The same tradition or, more precisely, the tradition of 19th-century piano virtuosity, was the inspiration for the Piano Concerto (1987-88), in which Lutosławski transformed patterns taken from Chopin, Liszt and Brahms. Thanks to its fully modern sound, the Concerto is far from a postmodernist "game" of conventions and styles. On the contrary, it preserves an integral shape, being the result of a conscious artistic vision.

The third trend in Lutosławski's experiments in the late period of his work involved the "chain form", based on a model of sound line in which individual layers / links carry on independently of one another and - one could say - comprise separate musical "plots". The result is an original series of three works sharing the title of "chain". The series comprises Chain 1 for ensemble (1983), Chain 2 - a dialogue for violin and orchestra (1983-85), and Chain 3 for orchestra (1986). The varied cast of these compositions (the middle one is a kind of little violin concerto) allowed Lutosławski to present the chain technique on a variety of textures: from "thin" weaves to complicated orchestral structures.

Lutosławski's last compositions refer to two huge areas that interested him practically from the start of his artistic career: vocal-instrumental and symphonic music. Among the first group is Chantefleurs et Chantefables - a cycle of songs for soprano and orchestra with texts by R. Desnos (1989-1990), in which one can hear not only a great fondness for French poetry and its internal "musicality", but also a passion expressed in composing works for children. Representing symphonic music is Symphony No. 4 (1988-92), completed two years before the composer's death, which includes references to the familiar two-phase form but also amazes the listener with its surprising sound in which - beside a clearly developed melodic line in pastel colours - one can hear a mysterious, toned-down tonal harmonic. Describing his artistic genealogy in numerous interviews and statements, Lutosławski called himself a spiritual heir of Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky and Bartok, or those composers who combined the sensual elements of music, especially its colour and sound, with excellent composer's workmanship. In view of this, it is noteworthy that Lutosławski was not attracted to the idea of serial order as represented by the Vienna School: Schönberg, Berg and Webern. Though he experimented with the 12-tone series all his life, he never made it the foundation of his works. Obviously he was not interested in music that was exclusively the effect of intellectual calculation; on the contrary, he always wanted the music to include the rich domain of emotions and sensual impressions, brought within a sound order worked out in the most minute details, out of a sense of artistic responsibility for the creative act - both before himself and before the audience of his compositions.

Author: Zbigniew Skowron, 2003.

See also: profile of Witold Lutosławski and The Year of Witold Lutosławski.
 

The Life of Witold Lutoslawski


1913

Witold Lutosławski is born on 25 January in Warsaw. He is raised at his parents' estate in Drozdowo.

1915

The Lutosławski family, seeking refuge from the dangers of World War I, moves to Moscow.

1918

Five-year-old Witold Lutosławski visits his father Józef, sentenced for counterrevolutionary activities, in a Moscow prison. The visit takes place a few days before the death sentence is carried out. This final meeting with his father leaves a lasting impression on the sensitive boy, and will have an impact on his artistic work. After the war, the family returns to Warsaw, as the Drozdowo estate is in ruin.

1919

Lutosławski begins piano lessons, first with his mother and then in Warsaw with Helena Hoffmanowa.

1920

His mother decides to return to Drozdowo, where a local teacher takes care of the boy's musical education.

1924

Lutosławski starts attending the Stefan Batory School, one of Warsaw's best secondary schools, and takes piano lesson from the great pianist and teacher Jozef Śmidowicz. He hears the music of Szymanowski for the first time, and it makes a great impression on the boy.

1926

He takes violin lesson from Lidia Kitowa, a student of the famous Józef Joachim. Lutosławski goes on to hone his violin skills for eight years. Knowledge of violin technique came in very useful in later years when he was composing.

1927

He starts attending the Warsaw Conservatory, where he continues learning the piano in the class of Artur Taube. Simultaneously, until 1931, he continues attending the Stefan Batory School.

1928

He suspends his music studies. At the age of just 15, he starts taking private lessons in theory and composition from Witold Maliszewski, under whose supervision the first works of the young Lutosławski will be created.

1930

He composes his first publicly performed work for piano, Dance of the Chimera.

1931

He passes his matriculation exam and enrols at the Mathematics Department of Warsaw University.

1932

He returns to the Warsaw Conservatory, studying piano in the class of the great chamber musician Jerzy Lefeld, and composition in the class of Witold Maliszewski. Overburdened with work, he gives up the violin, and a year later abandons his mathematics course.

1933

This year brings the first public performance of a piece for orchestra - a dance based on the music of Harun Al-Rashid; the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra plays the dance at one of its concerts.

1934

The Sonata for piano is written - Lutosławski's first larger work.

1935

While in Riga, he meets Karol Szymanowski who, having heard Lutosławski play his Sonata, offers several compliments about the work of the debuting composer.

1936

He completes his piano studies at the Warsaw Conservatory, and accepts a proposal to work on the music for three short films: Gore / Fire! and Uwaga / Beware! by Eugeniusz Czekalski, and Zwarcie / Short circuit by Stefan and Franciszka Themerson.

1937

He receives his diploma in composition, and as his graduation work presents Requiem aeternam and Lacrimosa; graduates are required to submit a vocal-instrumental piece.

1938

He finishes working on his Symphonic Variations, begun two years previously. The world premiere takes place a few weeks before the outbreak of World War II.

1939

Lutosławski wants to go to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger; recommending his student to the great teacher, Witold Maliszewski writes: "Since the time of Chopin there has not been such a talented student at this school." Because of the war, Lutosławski is mobilized. He is taken prisoner by the Germans, but manages to escape after eight days.

1939-45

During the war, the composer writes 50 exercises in counterpoint, and music for documentaries. He also composes the Songs of the Underground Struggle. Together with Andrzej Panufnik he forms a piano duo performing in Warsaw's cafés. The pianists transcribe works by many composers, mainly classical and Romantic, for two pianos.

1941

During a concert in occupied Warsaw, the Lutosławski-Panufnik duo perform the Paganini Variations. This is the composer's only work that survived the war and is still one of the most popular of Lutosławski's compositions in the world, though he himself considered the Variations a marginal work in his output.

1946

On 26 October Lutosławski marries Danuta Bogusławska née Dygat. Danuta was Witold's faithful companion and friend throughout their shared life, copying his scores and taking part in all his artistic tours.

1947-48

Under the pseudonym "Derwid", Lutosławski writes utility music: for radio, theatre, film as well as popular music. Apart from songs for children to listen to, he writes "childish songs" for them to sing. In composing this kind of music, he is motivated by financial considerations. He receives the Warsaw City Prize. The premiere of his Symphony No. 1 is held on 6 April.

1949

The authorities demand that artists commit themselves to building socialism in Poland, by composing works that are as easy as possible - songs for a mass audience. Refusal to write them was recognized as opposition to the people's government and had serious consequences. Such rebellion condemned musicians to financial poverty and artistic oblivion.

Performed at the inauguration of the Fourth Chopin Competition, Symphony No. 1 is hailed a "formalist" piece and its performances are forbidden.

1949-58

Lutosławski's original musical language crystallizes in this period - writing for himself, the composer creates his unique, individual system of composition. He makes his money from works based on folklore. The premiere of the Overture for Strings takes place in Prague on 9 November 1949.

1951

20 April marks the first performance of the Little Suite for chamber orchestra. The work is based on four folk melodies from the Rzeszów region. The premiere performance of the Silesian Triptych, a work based on the folklore of Silesia, takes place in December.

1952

This is the only time that Lutosławski conducts someone else's piece: in Katowice, together with the Polish Radio Great Symphony Orchestra, he performs Haydn's Symphony No. 92. He is awarded a second-degree State Prize.

1954

He completes the Concerto for Orchestra on 1 August.

1955

The premiere of the Dance Preludes. Though no new piece is performed for four consecutive years, Lutosławski works intensively and continues developing his individual composing style.

1958

The premiere of Funeral Music, marking the start of Lutosławski's international career. It is at this time that the artist says he can finally compose as he wishes and not as he knows how to.

1959

The premiere of Five Songs to Texts by Kazimiera Iłłakowiczówna - the first work written in the composer's new musical language. Lutosławski is a great success at the International Composers' Tribune in Paris - his Funeral Music wins first place. The composer is awarded the Association of Polish Composers Prize.

1960

By accident, he hears John Cage's Piano Concerto, and the idea of applying chance in music plays a key role in the process of shaping Lutosławski's composing technique. His "controlled aleatorism" is born.

1961

The premiere in Venice of the first work based on the aleatoric technique - Jeux vénitiens. Lutosławski is hailed as an avant-garde artist. He will be recognized as a classic 10 years later.

1962

Lutosławski receives the first-degree Artistic Award of the Minister of Culture and Art. In May, the composer is a success once again at the International Composers' Tribune, where his Jeux vénitiens, written using the new technique called controlled aleatorism, wins first place.

1963

The artist receives first prize from the International Music Council and the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna.

1964

The composer receives more awards: a first-degree State Prize, the Serge Koussevitzky International Recording Award, and again places first at the International Composers' Tribune in Paris for his Trois Poèmes d'Henri Michaux.

1965

The String Quartet premieres in Stockholm on 12 March - this is Lutosławski's first chamber work written using the controlled aleatorism technique. The premiere of Paroles Tissées takes place in Aldeburgh on 20 June.

1966

Lutosławski is awarded the Alfred Jurzykowski Foundation Prize in New York. This prize was founded in 1964 in order to promote writers, artists and scientists of Polish descent, regardless of their place of residence. By 1998, when the programme was closed, 451 Polish people had received the prize.

1967

Lutosławski receives more prizes: the Gottfried-von-Herder-Preis in Vienna, and the Leonie Sonning Music Prize in Copenhagen. On 9 June he conducts his Symphony No. 2 in Katowice. The composer's mother Maria dies in Warsaw on 17 October.

1968

Yet another success for Lutosławski at the International Composers' Tribune in Paris: his Symphony No. 2 wins first place. This is also the year of the premiere of an important work in his output - Livre pour orchestre.

1970

The premiere performance of the Cello Concerto takes place on 14 October in London.

1971

He receives his first honorary doctor's degree, from the Cleveland Institute of Music. He receives three awards in Paris: the Grand Prix International du Disque de l'Academie Charles Cross, the President of the French Republic's Prize, and the Prix Maurice Ravel.

1972

The Preludes and Fugue premiere in Graz.

1973

Lutosławski receives an honorary doctor's degree from Warsaw University, the Association of Polish Composers Prize, and the Sibelius de Wihuri Prize in Helsinki.

1974

The composer accepts an honorary doctor's degree from Northwestern University Evanston in Chicago, which also commissions a work from him. It will only be completed in 1983 - Symphony No. 3.

1975

Lutosławski is awarded an honorary doctor's degree by Lancaster University.

On 2 May Mstislav Rostropovich performs the Sacher Variation in Zurich. Lutosławski conducts the first performances of Mi-parti in Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

1978

The composer receives his third first-degree State Prize. In Berlin, the Polish artist is a great success as the composer during the performance of Les espaces du sommeil.

1979

Lutosławski receives the Deutsche Schalplattennpreis.

1980

The artist accepts an honorary doctor's degree from the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun. The premieres take place of Novelette, Double Concerto, and Epitaph for oboe and piano - an extremely important work for the development of the composer's late style.

1981

The University of Glasgow awards the Polish composer an honorary doctor's degree. Grave for cello and piano premieres on 22 May.

1983

Lutosławski completes his Symphony No. 3 on 31 January, and the premiere takes place in Chicago on 29 September. The premiere performance of the first work in the "Chains" series takes place in London. In Munich, Lutoslawski is awarded the Ernst von Siemens Musikpreis, and receives an honorary doctor's degree in Durham.

1984

Lutosławski receives the Solidarity Committee for Independent Culture Prize, and an honorary doctor's degree from Jagiellonian University. This is also the year of the premiere of the chamber version of Partita.

1985

The composer receives the Gravemeyer Award for Music Composition from the University of Louisville, the Premio Reina Sofia de Espana, and the Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society. Lutosławski donates these prizes to fund scholarships for young Polish composers and to help sick children.

1986

The artist receives the International Record Critics Award for his Symphony No. 3. Chain 1 and Chain 2 premiere in the same year.

1987

The composer is awarded honorary doctor's degrees by the universities of Baldwin, Cambridge, Manchester and Belfast.

1988

Lutosławski receives a Grammy Award, and also accepts an honorary doctor's degree from the Academy of Music in Warsaw. His Piano Concerto premieres in Salzburg.

1989

On 26 September in Warsaw, Lutosławski meets Olivier Messiaen.

1990

The Witold Lutosławski International Composers' Competition is inaugurated in January. The composer receives honorary doctor's degrees from the universities of Boston and Strasbourg. At the "Warsaw Autumn" festival, he meets with Andrzej Panufnik, who has been living in London for many years. This is also the year of the premiere of the Tarantella for baritone and piano.

1991

The artist receives the Signature Award of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and an honorary doctor's degree from the University of Pittsburgh. He meets the Pope in Warsaw on 8 June. His Chantefleurs et Chantefables premieres on 8 August.

1992

Lutosławski receives the Incorporated Society of Musicians Award from Manchester. He writes his last work, Subito.

1993

The premiere of Symphony No. 4 is held in February - Lutosławski conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. In April, he receives the "Nobel Prize" for music - the Polar Music Prize in Stockholm, the Gold Card, and the Music Award of the Royal Philharmonic Society in London. He takes part in the "Warsaw Autumn" festival for the last time on 25 September. He goes to Tokyo in November, to collect the Kyoto Prize in Creative Arts and Moral Sciences. He gives his last concert on 30 October in Montreal. He starts working on a piece he will not finish - the Violin Concerto.

1994

He receives the Classical Music Award for Symphony No. 4, which is recognized as the best composition of 1993. On 19 January, the Polish President presents Lutosławski with the Order of the White Eagle, Poland's highest distinction.

He dies on 7 February at 10 p.m., and is buried at Powązki Cemetery on 16 February.

The composer's wife Danuta dies on 23 April.

Following an initiative of Polish Radio and the "Warsaw Autumn" festival bureau, a concert in memory of Lutosławski is held on 21 September. The programme includes works by François-Bernard Mâche, Iannis Xenakis, Osvaldas Balakauskas, Gyorgy Kurtag, Arne Nordheim, and Toru Takemitsu. A recording of this concert is released.
 

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