Concerto for Orchestra (Lutosławski)

Last updated

Polish composer Witold Lutosławski's Concerto for Orchestra was written in the years 1950–54, on the initiative of the artistic director of the Warsaw Philharmonic, Witold Rowicki, to whom it is dedicated. It is written in three movements, lasts about 30 minutes, and constitutes the last stage and a crowning achievement of the folkloristic style in Lutosławski's work. [1] That style, inspired by the music of the Kurpie region, went back in him to the pre-1939 years. Having written a series of small folkloristic pieces for various instruments and their combinations (piano, clarinet with piano, chamber ensemble, orchestra, voice with orchestra), Lutosławski decided to use his experience of stylisation of Polish folklore in a bigger work. However, the Concerto for Orchestra differs from Lutosławski's earlier folkloristic pieces not only in that it is more extended, but also that what is retained from folklore is only melodic themes. The composer moulds them into a different reality, lending them new harmony, adding atonal counterpoints, turning them into neo-baroque forms.

Contents

Orchestration

The score calls for a large orchestra consisting of three flutes (two doubling piccolo), three oboes (one doubling cor anglais), three clarinets (one doubling bass clarinet), three bassoons (one doubling contrabassoon), four horns, four trumpets, four trombones, tuba, timpani, snare, tenor and bass drum, cymbals, tambourine, tam-tam, xylophone, bells, celesta, two harps, piano and strings.

Structure

The three movements are:

  1. Intrada: Allegro maestoso — a sort of extended two-subject overture beginning in 9/8 on an ostinato drum beat more threatening, if anything, than that which begins the Brahms First Symphony.
  2. Capriccio notturno ed Arioso: Vivace — the Capriccio is an airy, virtuoso scherzo, the main subject of which is intoned by the violin, followed by the remainder of the strings and woodwinds. It is followed by an expressive Arioso initiated by the brass section. The reprisal of the capriccio is intoned by the cellos and harp, the theme bowed, then with pizzicato. It is concluded with the ominous rumblings of the drums, double-basses and bass clarinet.
  3. Passacaglia, Toccata e Corale: Andante con moto — Allegro giusto — in three sections: the Passacaglia being a set of variations on a brooding theme played by the double-basses; followed by a vivacious and dynamic Toccata; and the (instrumental) Corale.

The Corale's second appearance produces a solemn finale for the monumental construction, the material for which is borrowed from a nineteenth-century collection compiled by the Polish ethnologist Oskar Kolberg. The concerto finishes with a dramatic flourish and climax from the whole orchestra.

Performance history

The work was first performed in Warsaw on 26 November 1954, and was responsible for making Lutosławski's name recognised in the West. However, once Lutosławski embarked on a style marked by heavy aleatoricism in the early 1960s, he attempted to distance himself from the Concerto for Orchestra, though he conducted it in Copenhagen in August 1967 upon receiving a $10,000 prize from a Danish foundation.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Witold Lutosławski</span> Polish composer and conductor (1913–1994)

Witold Roman Lutosławski was a Polish composer and conductor. Among the major composers of 20th-century classical music, he is "generally regarded as the most significant Polish composer since Szymanowski, and possibly the greatest Polish composer since Chopin". His compositions—of which he was a notable conductor—include representatives of most traditional genres, aside from opera: symphonies, various orchestral works, chamber works, concertos, and song cycles, some of which he orchestrated. Of these, his best known works are his four symphonies, the Variations on a Theme by Paganini (1941), the Concerto for Orchestra (1954), and a cello concerto (1970).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Krzesimir Dębski</span>

Krzesimir Marcin Dębski is a Polish composer, conductor and jazz violinist. His music career as a musician has been that of a performer as well as composer of classical music, opera, television and feature films.

The last complete piano concerto by Sergei Prokofiev, Piano Concerto No. 5 in G major, Op. 55, dates from 1932.

Symphony No. 3 (Lutosławski)

Witold Lutosławski wrote his Symphony No. 3 in 1973–1983. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Georg Solti, gave the world premiere on 29 September 1983. The work is dedicated to Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. It was awarded the Nagroda Solidarności in 1984 and selected for the first Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition in 1985.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Krzysztof Meyer</span> Polish composer, music scholar, and pianist

Krzysztof Meyer is a Polish composer, pianist, and music scholar, formerly Dean of the Department of Music Theory (1972–1975) at the State College of Music, and president of the Union of Polish Composers (1985–1989). Meyer served as professor of composition at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne from 1987 to 2008, prior to his retirement.

Zygmunt Krauze is a Polish composer of contemporary classical music, educator, and pianist.

The Piano Concerto No. 3 is a 32-minute concerto by the Australian-born composer Malcolm Williamson.

Mi-parti is an orchestral work by the Polish composer Witold Lutosławski, composed from 1975 to 1976 on a commission from the City of Amsterdam for the Concertgebouw Orchestra. The name broadly means in two equal but different parts, referring to the treatment of the material rather than the large-scale structure of the piece.

Hanna Kulenty is a Polish composer of contemporary classical music. Since 1992, she has worked and lived both in Warsaw (Poland) and in Arnhem (Netherlands).

Gary Kulesha is a Canadian composer, pianist, conductor, and educator. Since 1995, he has been Composer Advisor to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He has been Composer-in-Residence with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony (1988–1992) and the Canadian Opera Company (1993–1995). He was awarded the National Arts Centre Orchestra Composer Award in 2002. He currently teaches on the music faculty at the University of Toronto.

Benjamin Britten's Violin Concerto, Op. 15, was written from 1938 to 1939 and dedicated to Henry Boys, his former teacher at the Royal College of Music. It was premiered in New York on 29 March 1940 by the Spanish violinist Antonio Brosa with the New York Philharmonic conducted by John Barbirolli. A revised version of the concerto appeared in 1951, including alterations of the solo violin part prepared with the assistance of Manoug Parikian. It was performed by Bronislav Gimpel and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Thomas Beecham.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Romuald Twardowski</span> Polish composer (born 1930)

Romuald Twardowski is a Polish composer.

The Organ Concerto, Op. 7 is an organ concerto by Icelandic composer Jón Leifs. Its origins go back to 1917, when Leifs was just 18, and was completed in 1930. It is an uncompromisingly dark work somewhat linked to medieval music, with influences from the tvísöngur tradition in a dissonant triadic context. It contains three movements, with a short introduction and finale framing a much longer Passacaglia consisting in thirty variations. Its theme comprises the total chromatic, critic Alex Ross described as Bach walking in the tundra.

Jiří Bárta was a Czech pianist and composer.

The Concerto for Two Flutes and Orchestra is a composition for two flutes and orchestra by the American composer Steven Stucky. The work was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, for which Stucky was formerly composer-in-residence and then New Music Adviser. The piece was composed from October through December 1994 and was given its world premiere in Los Angeles by the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen on February 23, 1995.

The Concerto for Cello and Orchestra is a cello concerto by the Polish composer Witold Lutosławski. The work was commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society with support from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. It received its world premiere at the Royal Festival Hall on October 14, 1970 by the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Edward Downes.

The Concerto for Piano and Orchestra is a composition for solo piano and orchestra by the Polish composer Witold Lutosławski. The music was commissioned by the Salzburg Festival. It was first performed at the festival on August 19, 1988 by the pianist Krystian Zimerman and the Austrian Radio Orchestra under the direction of the composer. Lutosławski dedicated the piece to Zimerman.

Marius Flothuis Musical artist

Marius Flothuis, born and died in Amsterdam, was a Dutch composer, musicologist and music critic.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Variations on a Theme by Paganini (Lutosławski)</span>

Variations on a Theme by Paganini, often referred to as the Paganini Variations, is an arrangement for two pianos of Niccolò Paganini's Caprice No. 24, from Paganini's original set of 24 Caprices for violin, written by Polish composer Witold Lutosławski. The arrangement, originally composed in 1941, was later re-arranged for piano and orchestra.

References

  1. Będkowski, Stanisław; Stanisław Hrabia (2001). Witold Lutosławski: a bio-bibliography. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 5. ISBN   978-0-313-25962-3.