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12 Folk Melodies : Work information

Witold Lutoslawski ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie, Jean-Paul Dessy (Conductor)

This work

Work name
12 Folk Melodies
Work number
1945-01-01 02:00:00

This recording

Ivan Pastor
Frédéric Briant
Recording date
2000-04-01 01:00:00

The Composers

Witold Lutoslawski

Witold Lutoslawski learnt piano and violin as a child, taking formal lessons at the Warsaw Conservatoire from 1932. He fought at the start of the Second World War; imprisoned by the Germans, he managed to get back to Warsaw and eke out a living playing piano in cafes. Even at this time he was composing, his 1941 Paganini Variations (originally a duet for piano) being from this period. After the war he began to teach; by the sixties he was lecturing around the world and receiving prestigious awards for his compositions. A position as composer in residence at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, allowed him free rein to explore new ideas.

Lutoslawski’s techniques as a composer are interesting both to discuss and in terms of the results they yield. When composing as a serialist he could devise simple motives which built into a series, giving it a strong coherence; his 1958 Musique Funebre, written for, and reminiscent of, Bartok, begins with a series constructed from only two intervals. The same work builds towards an ‘Apogee’ containing another of Lutoslawski’s hallmarks, a chord containing all twelve notes. The First Symphony (1947) contains similar methods of serial construction, its ingenuity and drive sounding rather like Shostakovich.

Lutoslawski was also keen to explore indeterminism; his Venetian Games (1961) give performers parts which they can follow at their own pace, the conductor serving only to bring them back in line at pre-specified points. The composer claimed that he had planned the work considering every resulting eventuality; Stravinsky was unconvinced that this could be done!

Track listing

  • No. 1 Oh my Johnny! (Sostenuto) 0:56 min
  • No. 2 Hey, I come from Cracow (Allegretto) 0:40 min
  • No. 10 The Grove (Allegro vivo) 0:42 min
  • No. 11 The Gander (Andantino) 1:42 min
  • No. 12 The Schoolmaster 1:12 min