Witold Lutosławski, part three

As mentioned in the previous blog, Lutosławski left Warsaw in 1944. He returned in 1945 and married Danuta Bogusławska in 1946. Lutosławski returned to work on his first symphony at this point in time. It was performed in 1948. He also continued to compose more functional pieces to earn a living, writing items like piano studies and music to accompany a silent film.

Under Stalin, there was much artistic censorship. Lutosławski continued to compose functional pieces and was recognized with the Prime Minister’s Prize for some of his children’s songs. It wasn’t until after 1953 (Stalin’s death) that more of Lutosławski pieces would be performed. He composed many pieces over the years, developing and refining his own unique style.

In addition to the classical music we are familiar with, Lutosławski also composed some lighter fare. Between 1957 and 1963, he wrote about 40 pieces under the pen name of Derwid. These were pieces for voice and piano – many of these waltzes, tangos, or foxtrots.

Over the years he again international fame and continued to compose. Lutosławski lived in Poland through continued unrest and upheaval. Between 1981 and 1989, he declined all professional engagements in Poland to show his support of the artists’ boycott connected to the Solidarity (Polish trade union) movement.

He continued to compose and tour up until shortly before his death in early February 1994. Not long before his death, he was awarded Poland’s highest honour, the Order of the White Eagle. He was the second person to be awarded this honour after the fall of communism in Poland. Pope John Paul II was the first person to receive the award.

In February 1994, he lost his life to cancer. Danuta, his wife, passed away not long after.

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