Monday, September 1, 2014


ANUL / YEAR IV / NR. 14 / 2014. 07.-09.
Muzică / Music
Rubrica / Box: Articole - Studii / Articles - Studies
2014.09.01. Luni / Monday
Sesiunea de comunicări științifice a Facultății de Arte - Universitatea din Oradea

Autor / Author: Ewa Nidecka
University of Rzeszów
Redactor / Editor: Anca Spătar
Lect.univ. Dr. Universitatea din Oradea - Facultatea de Arte
Redactor / Editor: Mirela Mercean Țârc
Conf.univ. Dr. Universitatea din Oradea - Facultatea de Arte


Key words:

Witold Lutosławski, musical language, compositional techniques, controlled aleatorism, classic of Polish music of the XXth century.


Witold Lutosławski (1913-1994) is considered a classic of Polish music of the XX-th century. His works represent a few trends which appeared in contemporary music. Lutosławski adopted traditional and contemporary compositional techniques in his works. He applied polyphony, controlled aleatorism, 12-tone technique that were transformed into his own musical language. The composer conducted a lot of experiments with 12-tone row system but he never made it the general structure of his works. Within the great variety of currents, tendencies and experiments in contemporary music, Lutosławski possessed a unique, individual composing style, rich in innovative sound ideas and masterful textures, distinguished by its intellectual emotionalism. His achievement had a real impact on later generations of Polish composers in the second half of the XXth century. The 2013 year was devoted to Witold Lutosławski (1913-1994) in Poland. Music community celebrated then the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Polish composer.
The 2013 year was devoted in Poland to Witold Lutosławski (1913-1994). Music community celebrated then the 100th anniversary of the birth of the great Polish composer. He is considered a classic of Polish music of the XX-th century. His works represent a few trends which appeared in contemporary music.
Lutoławski's artistic career coincided with World War II during he took part in battles. At that time he lived in Warsaw and earned his living playing the pianoforte at cities' cafes. He also played his own compositions. In his artistic output there are about 200 arrangement works of J.S. Bach, W.A. Mozart, F. Schubert, J. Brahms, N. Paganini, M. Ravel and other composers. Unfortunately, these compositions burned in 1944 during the Warsaw Uprising. Most of his pieces composed before 1937 got lost during the World War II. The only work that has survived from that period is Variations on a Theme of Paganini for two pianos (1941). It is one of the most popular pieces of Lutosławski. He combined the tonal melody of the theme with dissonant harmonics:
Ex. 1. Variations on a Theme of Paganini for two pianos, theme
The main features of the composition are energy of musical narrative, colorful and density of both parties of the two pianos. The composer also incorporates elements of ostinato which show influences of neoclassicism. The early composition foreshadows the later achievements of Lutoławski in the filed of harmony and aesthetics of his musical language.
Till 1954 Lutosławski's works feature mentioned neoclassicism. He applied polyphony, sonata form, suite, variation, symphony which are combined with dissonant harmonics. The colorful orchestration reminds of neoclassical works of Prokofiew, Strawiński and Roussel. After the World War II he was defined as a formalistic composer due to the difficulty in reception of his musical language. His works were prohibited. At that time he was interested in folklore. He could not compose as he wished, so he composed as he was able to. Under the influence of Hungarian composer Béla Bartók, Lutosławski wrote Concerto for Orchestra (1954). He used the Polish folk music and combined it with the polyphonic technique. A folk music is still visible in his Little Suite (Mała suita) and numerous arrangements of folk melodies. In these works he combined original folk tonalities with dissonant harmony and adopted colorful sound effects by changeable orchestration. At that time he wrote music for children, theater music and light music.
To the interesting compositions from early Lutosławski's works belong Folk melodies for the piano (1945). The cycle began a period of folklorism. It consists of 12 melodies from different regions of Poland. The composer wonted to lead young players to contemporary music. Motifs of the cycle derive from the other Polish folk melodies collected by Jerzy Olszewski. They are simple piano miniatures in which a tonal melody is combined with an atonal accompaniment. In that time Lutosławski was showing his interests of harmony and sound quality. In many pieces he applied a perfect fifth as an attribute of Polish folk music as well perfect forth and second in bottom of the piano part. In one piece Folk melodies, II. Hey, I come from Krakow / Melodie ludowe, II. Hej, od Krakowa jade / Lutosławski used melody of Polish dance krakowiak which originates from vicinity of Cracow. The composer stood out syncopated rhythm as a characteristic feature of the dance and melodic qualities of the original melody:
Ex. 2. Folk melodies, II. Hey, I come from Cracow / Melodie ludowe, II. Hej, od Krakowa jadę  
The piece is an example that shows how Lutosławski transformed a simple folk music material into his own musical language.
Some melodies of the cycle are close to chopinian tradition because of the source of the national melodic material. The tradition is visible in specific kind of accompaniment which F. Chopin used in his mazurkas. The mazurkas rhythms the composer incorporated e.g. in the piece titled The Shepherd Girl / Pastereczka /:
Ex. 3. Folk melodies, IV. The Shepherd Girl / Melodie ludowe, Pastereczka / 
As the previous piece Lutosławski adopted simple texture in the piano part and dissonant harmonics combined with original folk melodies whilst preserving the original source of folk.
Five melodies of the cycle Lutosławski scored for string orchestra and four ones – for four violins easy to play. The cycle aroused interest among international community. It was inspiration for the famous Spanish guitarist José de Azpiazu. He chose nine melodies and scored for the guitar. Both the cycle as well other Lustosławski's compositions for the young players are now a valuable pedagogical material.
Some compositions among his early oeuvre feature lyricism and expression e.g. Recitativo e arioso from 1951 for the violin and pianoforte. This piece has a classical structure ABA1 where part B is expressive, dynamic and it is material culmination:
Ex. 4. Recitativo e arioso for the violin and pianoforte, ms. 18-32 (B)
In the work we can see impact of J. Brahms' piano composition, specially in the texture, massive sound, wide range of registers and typical of Brahms' musical narrative. The piece indicates a close relationship with classical-romantic tradition.
Lutosławski was working on his own musical language for all his life. He made an important contribution to development of new compositional techniques. After 1957 he started to be interested in aleatoric music. He developed another feature of his compositional technique when he began introducing randomness into the exact synchronization of various parts of the musical ensemble. Fascination of aleatoric music includes pieces from the 60s. of the XX-th century. In open form he proposed his own solution, which is called “controlled aleatorism”. This technique was used first time in 1961 in the work Venetian Games / Jéux Vénitiens / Gry weneckie /. It was the kind of his own answer to aleatory of John Cage. Lutosławski sent John Cage the manuscript of Venetian Games to express his gratitude for the inspiration. The score of the composition is one of the most interesting musical examples written in the second half of the XX-th century. The work has four movements. The first one is made up of eight sections, written in frames in the score. The form of this movement is a result of using refrains and episodes, where the refrains are played aleatorically (ad libitum), while the episodes are traditionally conducted (a battuta). The structure of the work contains the 12-tone row. Lutosławski also added his own comment to the score:
Ex. 5. Venetian Games, the beginning of the fist movement
In 1962 the piece was awarded first place at the International Rostrum of Composers by UNESCO’s International Music Council in Paris.
Controlled aleatorism occurs in almost every later Lutosławski's work but its application is different for every work. In Trois poem d'Henri Michaux (1963) for the choir and orchestra aleatory technique consists in using random sounds included in low, middle and high register. In addition, the composer applied speech, cry and whisper. Team playing is realized ad libitum and a battuta (freely and exactly), that is why the composition is conducted by two conductors. Aleatorism is also used in Livre pour Orchestre (1968). The piece is characterized by richness of musical language and 12-tone harmony with micro-tones. Lutosławski's controlled aleatorism had a real impact on later Polish composers such as: K. Serocki, R. Palester, R. Haubestock-Ramati, A. Waciński, A. Nikodemowicz, W. Szalonek and others.
Lutosławski declared many times his independence of achievement of the Vienna School. Despite the fact that dodecaphony is present in most of his works composed after 1958, the 12-tone row is never a base of the whole composition. He connected a few elements of traditional works with the achievements of music avant-garde. He combined e.g. polyphony with aleatoric counterpoint as Preludes and fugue (1972) for 13 solo string instruments. The piece consists of 7 preludes which can be performed in any number and in any order. In turn, the fugue can be played through the whole piece or in shortened versions, as marked by the composer in the score. Musicians have a choice of the version of the composition.
Combination a dodecaphony with canonic imitation we can see in Music of mourning (Muzyka żałobna; 1958). The composition consists of one movement, which is made up of successive segments, each built from a series of various phrases:
Ex. 6. W. Lutosławski, Music of mourning, Prolog, ms. 1-11 
In this work the composer incorporated a rhythmic row which contains 17 different rhythmic units in the change time signature 5/2 and 3/2. This characteristic feature of Lutosławski's dodecaphony is appearance of the foreign sounds from outside the 12-tone row.
Lutosławski applied 12-tone technique in many of his later compositions e.g. Mi-parti and Les espaces du someil (both 1976). The interesting example is the 12-tone row from Mi-pati which is divided into 3 parts, each having 4 sounds (3 sixth, 3 thirds and 3 seconds):
Ex. 7. The 12-tone row from Mi-parti
Lutosławski usually incorporated two intervals in the dodecaphonic row and only in some exceptions – three ones. Mi-parti is representative of such works. In dodecaphonic works a row is never the essential structural element. In this work Lutosławski created a new melodiousness composed with euphonious harmony.
After many considerations Lutosławski stated that music avant-garde of the XX-th century lost a melodic line. A fluent melody became a characteristic feature of his later compositions. He claimed that the melody depends on the harmony. So that is why he was looking for harmonic possibilities which are result from using the 12-tone scale and applying all sounds simultaneously. He stated that the number of intervals is minor between the neighbouring sounds and the 12-tone chord has a clearer harmonic and expressive shape. A color tone depends only partially on orchestration, dynamic, articulation and mainly – on some harmonic phenomena. Lutosławski's tonality and harmonic vision adopted very individual form. He gave a new sense to measure and rhythm.
Lutosławski was working on a music form for many years. He wanted to create a form which he could apply in a lot of compositions. Finally, he created so called two-part music form (dual form). It consists in giving a short presentation of music materials in first part and development of this material in the second part of a piece. The composer incorporated the form in String Quartet (1964) for the first time and later in II Symphony (1967) and Chain I (1983), II, III. He also used this form in Livre pour Orchestre (1968).
Symphony is among the most significant forms of Lutosławski's works. He created four symphonies. The I Symphony was called formalistic by the Polish authorities. In the III Symphony (1983) the composer combined some elements of his own style with innovative texture and sound solution. The III Symphony has a classical sonata form. In turn, a romantic tradition features his Piano Concerto (1988) written for the famous Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman. The composer was working on this composition for ten years. He transformed Chopin's, Liszt's and Brahms' patterns into his own music style. The last symphony No IV (1992) was finished two years before Lutosławski's death. The work has a dual form, presents clear melodic line and pastel tonal harmonics.
In the Lutosławski's views on the development of music avant-garde and its perspectives are said to be meaningful. The numerous interviews that he gave showed his deep reflections and experiences. He defined the tendentious of Polish contemporary music very accurately.
Witold Lutosławski is ranked next to the most distinguished composers of the XX-th century music like: B. Bartók, S. Prokofiew and O. Messiaen. He identified himself to be the successor of Debussy, Ravel, Strawiński, Bartók. These composers combined a colour sound with excellent composer's style in their music. Lutosławski had formed his own views pertaining to the creative process. He was not interested in the serious order derived from the Vienna School: Schönberg, Berg and Webern. However, he conducted a lot of experiments with 12-tone row system but he never made it the general structure of his works.
Lutoslawski's works received wide recognition, including the award of the Polish Composer's Union (1959, 1973); First Prize of the Minister of Culture and Art (1962); the First State Prize (1955, 1964, 1978); first prize at the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers in Paris (1959, 1962, 1964, 1968); the Sergej Kussewitzky prize (1964, 1976, 1986); the Gottfried von Herder prize (1967); the Maurice Ravel prize (1971); the Jean Sibelius prize (1973); the E. von Siemens prize (1983); the Queen Sofia of Spain prize (1985) and others. Within the great variety of currents, tendencies and experiments in contemporary music, the composer possessed a unique, individual composing style, rich in innovative sound ideas and masterful textures, distinguished by its intellectual emotionalism. His music output, independent views on music caused that Witold Lutosławski became one of the most prominent classical composers of the Polish contemporary music.

1.      Chłopecki Andrzej, Lutosławski – spełniony projekt,,2.html;
2.      *** Kompozytor na koniec epoki,,3.html.
3.       Nikolska Irina, Muzyka to nie tylko dźwięk. Rozmowy z Witoldem Lutosławskim, Kraków 2003;
4.      Paja-Stach Jadwiga, Lutosławski i jego styl muzyczny, Kraków 1997;
5.      Schaeffer Bogusław, Polskie melodie ludowe w twórczości Witolda Lutosławskiego. In: „Studia Muzykologiczne” t. V, Kraków 1956.
6.      Skowron Zbigniew, Estetyka i styl twórczości Witolda Lutosławskiego. Studies edited by Z. Skowron, Kraków 2000;
7.      Skowron Zbigniew, Klasycy muzyki europejskiej XX wieku w świadomości twórczej Witolda Lutosławskiego. In: „Res Facta Nova”, Poznań 2007, nr 9(18);
8.      Skowron Zbigniew, Lutosławski (1913-1994) - klasyk muzyki XX wieku, http: //
9.      Strzelecki Paweł, „Nowy romantyzm” w twórczości kompozytorów polskich po roku 1975, Musica Iagellonica, Kraków 2006.
List of musical examples:
1.      Variations on a Theme of Paganini for two pianos, theme;
2.      Folk melodies, II. Hey, I come from Cracow / Melodie ludowe, II. Hej, od Krakowa jade;
3.      Folk melodies, IV. The little shepherdess / Melodie ludowe, Pastereczka /;
4.      Recitativo e arioso for the violin and pianoforte, ms. 18-32 (B);
5.      Venetian Games, the beginning of the fist movement;
6.      W. Lutosławski, Music of mourning / Muzyka żałobna /, Prolog, ms. 1-11;
7.      The 12-tone row from Mi-parti.