Andrzej Markowski (1924-1986) — conductor, composer, organizer of musical life. At first, he was active as a creator of theatre and film music. He was artistic director and first conductor of the Cracow Philharmonic (1959-1964), director of the Wrocław Philharmonic (1965-1969), second conductor of the National Philharmonic (1971-1977), and president of the Łódź Philharmonic. From the beginning he let himself be known as an energetic propagator of early and new music. His greatest achievement was the founding of the oratorio and cantata music festival Vratislavia Cantans (from 1966). Andrzej Markowski gave numerous world premieres of works by contemporary Polish composers, which he also conducted throughout the world, all the while acquanting the Polish public with outstanding works from different periods, from Monteverdi to contemporary times.
To foster the performance of new music, Andrzej Markowski created the Chamber Orchestra at the Cracow Philharmonic. He asked Witold Lutosławski to compose a work to be performed at the orchestra’s Venice Biennale concert. Lutosławski’s answer to this were the Venetian Games, whose world premiere then took place at the Teatro La Fenice on April 24, 1961. The score did not yet have its final shape, as it lacked the third movement. (The world premiere of the complete version of the work took place in September of the same year at the Warsaw Autumn, under the direction of Witold Rowicki.)
The Venetian Games became a milestone on Lutosławski’s creative path, since the work includes his first use the technique of ‘limited aleatoricism’. (kt / trans. mk)