Witold Lutosławski

Born in Warsaw, LutosÅ‚awski showed an exceptional musical talent at an early age, with his first compositions dating from 1922. He studied piano, violin, and composition, graduating from the Warsaw Conservatory in 1937. Two years, at the beginning of World War II, Poland was occupied by the Nazi Germany; and Nazi repression included censorship on artistic expression. Lutoslawski survived the difficult war years as well as the subsequent Stalinist period by writing for radio, film, and theater. In addition, he arranged folk-songs and composed music for children.

His first substantial orchestral work, The Symphonic Variations was premiered in 1939. It is a work firmly rooted in tonality with a folk-like theme that is varied in a kaleidoscopic way. His first stylistic period culminated in the folk-influenced, three-movement Concerto for Orchestra.

With the cultural thaw which started in the late '50s, his reputation began to grow, at home and abroad, as did his compositional style, with twelve-tone techniques appearing in Funeral Music. In this work, Lutoslawski continually resolves ascending scales with semi-tone intervals that tend to anchor tonal centers within keyless regions. In Jeux Vénitiens, Lutoslawski took his first step into a "limited aleatory music"– after hearing a performance of John Cage's Concerto for Piano in 1960. Lutoslawski went on to compose nearly twenty major orchestral works, including Symphony No. 3, for which he was awarded the prestigious Grawemeyer Award, and his final Symphony No. 4, commissioned and premiered by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.