Lutosławski's Public Life

Witold Lutosławski kept a low public profile but engaged in various social activities. He would comment on his own music and stress the significance of art in the life of society. He sat on various committees such as the UNESCO International Music Council and, from 1973, the Board of the Polish Composers’ Union. He accepted invitations to conferences and met with young composers. He treated these activities as important, although they often robbed him of the time designated for ‘homework’, as he used to call it; he was a meticulous composer and his slow pace made time a precious commodity.

In the 1960s and the 1970s the composer shunned contacts with the authorities but participated in public life. After the martial law was imposed in Poland in December 1981, he also withdrew from the state mass media. For both his Symphony No. 3 and his public stance, Lutosławski was awarded the 1984 Solidarity Committee for Independent Culture Prize.

The 1989 collapse of Communism marked a big change in Lutosławski’s life. He became the musicians’ spokesman on the Citizens’ Committee, working with Lech Wałęsa and, from 1992, in the Cultural Council at the President’s Office.