Composers / Witold Lutosławski / Places catalog


Every September and October since 1968, Graz – the capital of the region of Styria, picturesquely located at the foot of the Alps – has held a modern arts festival: the Steirischer Herbst, or Styrian Autumn. Witold Lutosławski visited the Styrian Autumn a couple of times; more specifically, the Musikprotokoll, as the musical part of the festival is called, organised by the Austrian Radio Orchestra (ORF). He first travelled to Graz in 1971, to conduct his Musique funèbre in a concert given by the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra on 24 October. That recording was later included on an LP released by the ORF: Musikprotokoll 1971.

The programme of the next edition of the festival featured two of his works. A highlight of the concert on 12 October 1972 was the first performance of Preludes and Fugue. That work was commissioned by the conductor Mario di Bonaventura, but since the festival in the American town of Hanover for which the work was written was cancelled due to a lack of funds, the first performance of the prepared score was offered to the Styrian Autumn. The longest of Lutosławski’s works, at thirty-five minutes, Preludes and Fugue was played in Weiz, some 30 km from Graz. Five days later, in Graz itself, the Cello Concerto was performed. Two years earlier, it had been brought to the concert platform by Mstislav Rostropovich, who was due to be the soloist in Graz, but the soviet authorities refused him permission to travel. So a replacement had to be found. It was entrusted to the then young Austrian cellist Heinrich Schiff. The Slovenian Radio Orchestra was conducted by its leaderSamo Hubad, and for the time being Lutosławski only listened to the artists, as he began conducting that work somewhat later – with Schiff as soloist.

In later years, the organisers of the Styrian Autumn were inclined to include his new works on the festival programmes. In 1980, the first performance of a song cycle was considered, to be sung by Jessye Norman, and although nothing came of that idea it is believed to have inspired the later cycle Chantefleurs et Chantefables.

It was in Graz that Lutosławski was almost persuaded to write an opera. When planning the grand reopening of the renovated opera house in 1985, the authorities wanted to commission a new work for the occasion. The composer was inclined to accept the commission, and Andrzej Wajda urged him to base the libretto on the latest play by the French writer Jean-Claude Carrière, La conférence des oiseaux. Carrière had written the screenplay to Wajda’s film Danton, and so the director arranged for the two men to meet. ‘Witold had always considered that opera was pointless and laughable by nature, since people don’t sing, but talk. But birds sing, and so if a person was a bird on the stage he could sing. He was full of enthusiasm, and he even talked for many hours in Warsaw with the author of the Parisian libretto’, recalled Krystyna Zachwatowicz and Andrzej Wajda. Unfortunately, it soon turned out that a libretto based on that very play had already been prepared for another composer, and thus it got no further than the conversations, and Lutosławski treated the collapse of the project as decreed by providence.

Place Category
Aix-en-Provence Appearances
Aldeburgh Appearances
Amsterdam Appearances
Århus Education
Aspen Appearances
Austin Other
Baranów Sandomierski Other
Basel Other
Basztowa Street Performance spaces
Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts Other
BBC Orchestra and other ensembles Appearances
Belfast Other
Berea Performance spaces
Berlin Appearances
Białystok Education
Boston Appearances
Brisbane Other
Budapest Other
Calgary Education, Other
Cambridge Other
Celle Publishers / Bookshops
Chicago Appearances
Cincinnati Other
Cleveland Appearances
Cologne Other
Copenhagen Appearances
Cracow Philharmonic Performance spaces
Dartington Education
Donaueschingen Other
Dresden Other
Drozdowo Flats
Düsseldorf Appearances
Edinburgh Other
Evian Appearances
Filmography Radio / TV
Florence Appearances
Geneva Appearances
Glasgow Other
Graz Other
Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Hagen Other, Performance spaces
Hamburg Other
Hanover (New Hampshire) Other
Helsinki Education
Herkulessaal Appearances, Performance spaces
Houston Other
Huddersfield Appearances
Indianapolis Other
Jagiellonian University Education
Katowice Other
Kazimierz nad Wisłą Other
Komorów Flats
Łagów Other
Lancaster Appearances
La Rochelle Appearances
Leeds Appearances
Leipzig Education, Performance spaces, Publishers / Bookshops
Lisbon Appearances
Liverpool Appearances
Łomża Education
London Sinfonietta Performance spaces
Los Angeles Appearances
Louisville (Kentucky) Other
Lublin Appearances
Lucerne Other
Madrid Appearances
Manchester Appearances
Mikołajki Other
Milan Appearances
Montreal Appearances
Moscow Appearances
Munich Philharmonic Appearances, Performance spaces
New York Appearances
Odense Education, Performance spaces
Olsztyn Education
Opio (near Grasse) Flats
Oslo Other
Paris Appearances
Pittsburgh Appearances
Poznań Other
Prague Appearances
PWM EDITION Publishers / Bookshops
Riga Performance spaces
Rome Other
Rotterdam Appearances
Royal Albert Hall Appearances, Performance spaces
Royal Philharmonic Society Appearances
Saint Paul (Minnesota) Other
Salzburg Other
San Francisco Appearances
Strasbourg Appearances
Stockholm Appearances
Sydney Appearances
Szczecin Other
Tanglewood Education, Other
Tokyo Appearances
Toronto Education
Toruń Education
Venice Performance spaces
Vienna Performance spaces
Villars-sur-Ollon Other
Warsaw Appearances, Flats, Other, Performance spaces
Washington Appearances
Wawel Appearances
Wehr near Rheinfelden Other
Wrocław Other, Performance spaces
Wzdów Other
Zagreb Performance spaces
Zegrze Other
Zurich Performance spaces