Composers / Witold Lutosławski / Routes


Trasa Trophy cabinet

Of all the numerous prizes and awards received over his long life, Witold Lutosławski valued most highly the Solidarity Prize, which was presented to him in 1983 for his Symphony No. 3. That distinction, attested by a diploma, was awarded to him by the Independent Culture Committee, opposed to the authorities of the People’s Republic of Poland.

Three decades earlier, it had actually been the authorities of post-war Poland, known from 1952 as the PRP, that had first awarded prizes to him and his music. That started with a local prize from the city of Warsaw, which he received in 1948. Then came ministerial and state prizes and the highest decoration in the PRP: the Order of the Builders of the People’s Poland, which was awarded to him in 1977. At that time, the composer felt extremely uncomfortable, since tensions were rising in Poland between the authorities and the citizens, but those were not yet times when decorations could be refused. The last Polish award that he received was the Order of the White Eagle, reactivated after the demise of the PRP and the institution of the Third Republic. Lutosławski was only the second Pole to receive that award, after John Paul II.

In the collection of distinctions awarded to Lutosławski’s works, mention is due to the top four places in the Composers Forum; among the prizes for their recordings, the Koussevitzky Prix Mondial du Disque (three times). If we add to those the gold medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society and signal the abundance of other distinctions, we soon realise how full his ‘trophy cabinet’ was. The collection ended with the Classical Music Award for the Symphony No. 4, awarded in England in 1994, which he did not live to receive.

Most of those distinctions were of a symbolic character: a diploma or a statuette. Yet he did also receive prizes that were accompanied by a sometimes sizeable sum of money. In Poland, these included the state prizes; abroad, they began with the Jurzykowski Prize awarded to him in New York in 1966. A year later, that was joined by the Danish Leonie Sonning Prize and the Austrian Herder Prize. More of the most lucrative awards available to musicians were presented to him in 1983, in Munich, and in 1985, in Louisville. In the year of his eightieth birthday, Lutosławski received two ‘musical Nobel prizes’: the Polar Music Prize and the Kyoto Prize. The first prizes of that kind helped him achieve financial stability and freed him from the compilation of dance songs. He set aside the last such awards for scholarships for young musicians.