110th Anniversary of the Birth of Witold Lutosławski Filharmonia Narodowa

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110th Anniversary of the Birth of Witold Lutosławski
Julia Fischer, photo: Uwe Arens

Mieczysław Karłowicz’s violin training proved helpful in his compositional work, as evidenced by his Violin Concerto in A major. Its first performance, in Berlin, in 1903, given by Stanisław Barcewicz with the Philharmonic Orchestra under the composer’s baton, was well received. This youthful work, which in many respects presages the style of Karłowicz’s later symphonic poems, became one of the most important compositions in the Polish violin literature.

Ravel described his ballet music for Daphnis et Chloé as a ‘choreographic symphony’. Written for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes (1912), it became one of the more important proclamations of the great changes occurring in twentieth-century music, and its appeal meant that it also entered the concert repertoire.

Witold Lutosławski’s Fourth Symphony, composed to commission for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, marked the composer’s eightieth birthday: it was premiered on 5 February 1993 in Los Angeles. The first Polish performance, on 25 September 1993, by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra under the composer’s baton, would prove to be his final appearance in his homeland. Faithful to the idea of a two-movement form, the composer used it here too, commenting: ‘the first movement paves the way for the principal movement. It should draw the listeners in, interest them, intrigue them. But it should not give them complete satisfaction. It must arouse hunger, and ultimately even impatience. And that is the right moment to bring in the principal movement’.

Piotr Maculewicz