Composers / Witold Lutosławski / Persons catalog

Heinz Holliger

Swiss oboist, composer, and conductor, born in 1939. He studied in Bern, Paris, and Basil. In his creative stance he remained under considerable influence from Pierre Boulez. His world career as instrumentalist began with successes at competitions in Geneva (1959) and in Munich (1961). Holliger commands a wide repertoire, which extends from the Baroque (including Albinoni, Zelenka) to the twentieth century, but is known mainly for his masterly interpretations of contemporary works (he extended the performance technique with the use of unconventional methods of sound production, e.g. multiphonics). Composers who wrote for him included Olivier Messiaen, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luciano Berio, Elliott Carter, Isang Yun, and Hans Werner Henze. He was a frequent guest in Poland at the Warsaw Autumn festival, and frequently performs with his wife Ursula, the harpist. Both Heinz Holliger, and Witold Lutosławski belong to a group of 12 composers, who on the invitation of Mstislav Rostropowich wrote for cello solo to celebrate the seventieth birthday of Paul Sacher in 1976.

Witold Lutosławski, who was greatly impressed by Holliger's art, planned to write an oboe concerto for him as early as in the beginning of the 70s. "Composing a concerto work for a melodic instrument like the oboe was for me an almost impossible task at the time, and that's why I breathed a sigh of relief when Sacher agreed for me to add another concertante instrument - the harp. This fact enabled me to solve many problems", said the composer, as quoted by Krzysztof Meyer. Lutosławski finally composed the work in the years 1979-1980 while abandoning many earlier ideas. The Double Concerto for Oboe, Harp, and Chamber Orchestra received its premiere on August 24, 1980, in Luzerne, with the participation of Heinz and Ursula Holliger and Collegium Musicum under the direction of Paul Sacher, who commissioned the work from Lutosławski. The Holligers later performed the Concerto with the composer as conductor, among other locations in Moscow and Warsaw (the latter on September 23, 1980).

At Warsaw Autumn in 1984, Heinz Holliger, this time in the role of the conductor of the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, gave the Polish premiere of Witold Lutosławski's Chain I. (kt / trans. mk)