Warsaw is the city in which Witold Lutosławski was born, lived and worked for most of his life. His grave also lies here, in Powązki Cemetery.
The teenage Witold grew up in the centre of the city, living with his mother and brothers in a flat in a now non-existent tenement on Marszałkowska Street. From there, he would walk for lessons to the Batory School, and later to the Conservatory. During the occupation, he would play in a famous piano duet with Andrzej Panufnik in the cafes of Warsaw, and after the war he first lived for less than a year in the Praga district, on Waszyngtona Avenue, where he was taken in by a fellow musician, Jan Ekier, and later in Saska Kępa, where he moved after his wedding.
A commemorative plaque unveiled in 1996 records the 22-year-old composer’s stay in a pre-war tenement on Zwycięzców Street. Unfortunately, the flat that he occupied with his family on the second floor had one serious flaw: from all sides, noises from neighbouring flats could be heard. For a composer endowed with exceptionally sensitive hearing, and not just for music, that was such a serious hindrance in his work that he tried to move out to a quieter place. Yet the dearth of flats in Warsaw, which was still rising from the ravages of war, was so great that it was not until the end of the sixties that he succeeded in fulfilling his dream of a quiet house.
He bought it in the Żoliborz district, on Śmiała Street. It was in this house that he lived for the longest time, until his death, as we read on a commemorative plaque unveiled in 2004.
Yet Lutosławski’s Warsaw is not just flats or even the schools where he was taught; it is dozens of addresses associated with work, concerts, people important to him and historical events. This most important city in the composer’s life can be traversed in his footsteps to some extent, via places described in a mobile guide very similar to this one: Witold Lutosławski. Guide to Warsaw, which can be downloaded on the iOS, Android and Windows Phone platforms for free.