August 2012: Lutosławski Centenary Project


The Philharmonia Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen have announced a landmark project celebrating the centenary of the birth of one of the twentieth-century’s most influential musical voices, Witold Lutosławski (1913-1994). Woven Words: “Music begins where words end” is a pan- European portrait of this towering Polish composer, supported by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of Polska Music programme. The Series Consultant is the composer and Lutosławski specialist Steven Stucky, who together with Salonen was mentored and inspired by Lutosławski.

Key series headlines include:

  • Orchestral concerts: four concerts in London include the Piano Concerto performed by its dedicatee Krystian Zimerman; the Cello Concerto; the Concerto for Orchestra, and Symphony No. 4 (first recorded commercially by Salonen). The series include three by the Philharmonia under Salonen’s direction; one performed by the Royal College of Music Symphony Orchestra conducted by Franck Ollu), also touring in Europe (venues include Warsaw, Berlin and Modena).

  • Chamber concerts: free pre-concert performances of chamber music by Lutosławski and his contemporaries, plus a late-night concert of Lutosławski’s jazz and cabaret arrangements, performed by Polish musicians, arranged in liaison with the Adam Mickiewicz Foundation. The Royal College of Music will also be presenting a programme of chamber concerts as part of the series.

  • Related events: an “Explore Lutosławski” day, led by Steven Stucky with talks and chamber music sessions from Polish music specialists and performers, and a pre-concert series introductory event.

  • Souvenir book: featuring newly commissioned essays by leading academics and Polish music specialists including Charles Bodman Rae, Zbgniew Skowron, Adrian Thomas and Nicholas Reyland as well as Steven Stucky, alongside programme notes, visual imagery and full concert information.

  • Online and digital resources: a major series of new digital resources in four languages (English, Polish, French and German), including

    • Specially-commissioned new films documenting Lutosławski’s life and music, the wider Polish cultural and historical context and audio-visual listening guides to key repertoire, led and presented by Steven Stucky and Esa-Pekka Salonen
    • An interactive composing resource using Lutosławski’s 'controlled aleatory' technique from Jeux Venitiens: the Philharmonia will create an online tool to enable website users to re-work and experiment with looping chains of Lutosławski’s music, allowing them to learn about Lutosławski’s compositional techniques
    • Commissioned essays exploring Lutosławski’s life and work
    • Photographic and other archive materials
    • Audio samples of music by Lutosławski and his fellow composers within the series

Esa-Pekka Salonen’s tenure as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor has been dominated by landmark multi-disciplinary festivals, exploring the music of key 20th century composers and musical movements in their widest possible cultural, social and historical context. He commented:
“Lutosławski is quite simply one of the most important voices of the twentieth century. This retrospective of his life, in what would have been his 100th birthday year, brings his absorbing, rich, intensely atmospheric music to new audiences, and our digital resources will create a lasting legacy that ensures that this anniversary lasts well beyond its 12-month duration, and the three months of our celebration. Our partnership with the Adam Mickiewicz Institute is allowing us to access source material, archive and historical material that has never been seen before outside Poland and illuminates Lutosławski’s life and work in unprecedented ways. I can’t wait to show the world everything that we are discovering.”

Steven Stucky commented:
“Lutosławski emerged as one of the great masters of twentieth-century music not through celebrity or fashion, but by virtue of his fundamental values: the ravishing beauty of his sound world, his rich harmonic language, his expressive melodic voice, his lucid forms, his attention to dramatic tension and release, and underlying everything, his drive to communicate.”

All details of the series that have been released to date can be found in Notes for Editors below; the full series content, including chamber concerts and the Explore Lutosławski Day, will be released at the series launch event on 24 October 2012. For further information, or to attend the launch event please contact Alice Walton as below.