Calendar 1913-1919


25 January
Witold Lutosławski, the fourth child of Józef and Maria Lutosławski, is born in a maternity clinic at 6 Moniuszki Street, Warsaw.

29 June
Baptism in Drozdowo. Witold is baptised by his uncle Kazimierz. Uncle Jan and aunt Maria are the godparents.

Dear Kazimierz, I’m taking this opportunity while I’m travelling to write a few words to you. I sent you a telegraph to tell you about the birth of my son, who will have two names, Witold Jan. Maria feels better than she did during all previous labours. The clinic provides good professional care though without any special comforts. The labour lasted just 4 hours. I received a message in Drozdowo at 8:00 pm on Saturday and left for Warsaw at night.

(Józef Lutosławski writes to his brother Kazimierz, 29 January.)

[In the end the composer was named Witold Roman (in honour of Roman Dmowski who was a close friend of the Lutosławski family)].


Józef Lutosławski and his brother Marian become involved in political activities of the Central Civic Committee, associated with the National Committee of Poland created by Roman Dmowski.

When I came home, Witek was ill. He had a rash of some sort. The doctor scared us suggesting scarlet fever. But Witek’s health improved wonderfully.

(Józef Lutosławski writes to his brother Kazimierz, 2 February.)


7 August
After the Central Powers troops break through the front line, Paulina Lutosławska leaves Drozdowo with Henryk and Witold.  The next day they are joined by Maria and Józef with their eldest son Jerzy and the whole family goes to Moscow. They settle at 3 Srednya Presn where the brothers Marian, Józef and Kazimierz become actively involved in Polish colony in Russia.

The spiritual atmosphere in the small manor in which the Lutosławski family lived exuded inner harmony and calm, rooted in deep faith, even when the future was at its most uncertain.

(Stanisław Grabski, Reminiscence.)


The Lutosławski family lives in Moscow. The flat in Srednya Presn is occupied by Józef, his wife and children, uncle Marian, Mieczysław Niklewicz, and his family.

I was five when I left Moscow and a year and a half when I arrived. The only thing I remember is the flat. I remember the layout of the flat; such a thing, that doesn’t really matter.

(Lutosławski in conversation with Irina Nikolska.)


Marian and Józef prepare the transfer of Polish refugees to France nda England via Murmansk. After the October revolution the attitude towards Poles in Moscow turns hostile.

I remember how the events of 1917 began, the fires in Moscow. I can still see the fire in my mind and I recall the conversations. People said that the pharmacy was on fire. The flames were very colourful and hence, they knew that a big pharmaceutical store was on fire.

(Lutosławski in conversation with Irina Nikolska.)


23 April
Marian Lutosławski arrested; Józef arrested two days later.

15 August
The Lutosławski children are sent to Poland under the care of Marian’s eldest daughter, Hania (later Hania Zalewska)

5 September
The Bolsheviks execute The Lutosławski brothers. Towards the end of 1918 the family moves to Warsaw to a flat at 21 Marszałkowska Street.

I remember just one moment from my father’s life at home and another one when we visited him in prison, because he and his brother Marian were arrested. It’s difficult to say for sure what the Bolsheviks accused them of; anyway, on Dzerzhinsky’s orders they were both sentenced to death and executed by firing squad on September 5th, 1918. I didn’t realize then what tragedy I was experiencing, what tragedy my family was experiencing. That came later.

(Lutosławski in conversation with Irina Nikolska.)


Little Witold begins piano lessons with Helena Hoffman. Maria Lutosławska works as a doctor at Miss Plater’s pension. From 1919 she also serves as a councillor for the Warsaw City Council.

Unfortunately music lessons were quite complicated in my childhood because we first lived in Warsaw and then spent two years in Drozdowo, and so I had to change my teachers. At the beginning there was this very good piano teacher, named Helena Hoffman. She might have been Strobel’s pupil. I benefited quite a lot from her tuition.

(Lutosławski on Drozdowo in conversation with Zofia Owińska 1992.)