Calendar 1960-1969


Derwid’s song Nie oczekuję dziś nikogo [I’m not waiting for anybody tonight] sung by Rena Rolska becomes the radio song of the month.

Cage’s Concert for Piano and Orchestra heard on the radio inspires Lutosławski to write his Venetian Games.

10 - 19 June
During the International Festival of Contemporary Music in Cologne, Lutosławski is elected vice-president of the ISCM.

Lutosławski takes part in a composers’ conference in Dubrovnik.

28 January
When I look at the catalogue of my compositions, I’m terrified by the number of entries whose value is little more than that of their titles.

(Letter to Lissa.)

In 1960 it became very clear to me that I couldn’t materialise all those different ideas accumulated in my imagination. It was then that I heard a fragment of John Cage’s Second Piano Concerto. A composer very often listens to music very actively: for example, what he hears is only an impulse that launches his imagination; he hears what plays in his imagination rather than what he is really listening to. This is what happened with Cage’s Concerto.  I listened to it only for a moment and suddenly, I realised that all those ideas accumulated in my imagination could be liberated in a way I had never used. I immediately stopped everything I was working on and started to write Venetian Games.

(Lutosławski in conversation with Irina Nikolska.)


24 April
Andrzej Markowski premieres Venetian Games (finished barely a month earlier) at the festival in Venice.

19 May
Lutosławski delivers a lecture at the 1st Zagreb Biennale: ”On the development of contemporary musical language”.

11-20 January
He takes part in the ISCM session in Vienna.

16 September
The final version of Venetian Games performed at the Warsaw Autumn Festival.


22 July
Lutosławski receives lifetime achievement award from the Minister of Culture award (1st class).

First trip to the USA for lectures at Tanglewood. Meeting with Varese in New York and a visit to Babbit's electronic studio in New York.

8 February
Art criticism is nothing more than a literary genre. It's a parasitic genre, because the subject of a critical article is not the creation of the critic, but the author of the artwork in question.

The so-called background music is a kind of noise or buzz that accompanies all human activities. In my opinion the influence of this ”music” is anaesthetising, killing our ability to perceive all kinds of acoustic sensations.

(From the Notebook of Ideas.)


9 May
Premiere of  Trois poemes d’Henri Michaux at the Second Muzicki Biennale festival in Zagreb arouses great enthusiasm. A year later the work receives a Koussevitzky Foundation Award.

The composer conducts the performance - for the first time in many years. From this point on, conducting his works will become a tradition.

Lectures at the Dartington Summer School of Music.

When I hear the question: ”Is it music?”, I wonder why it is asked so often these days. Does the output of today’s’ avant-garde composers differ so much from what the majority believes to be music? Aware of several phenomena occurring in music created today, I have to answer in the affirmative.

Indeed, the difference between certain works created recently and, say, the music of Webern or even his immediate followers seems greater, more significant than the difference between Webern and Baroque music.

(It is music  - a BBC radio talk.)


10 - 12 January
Seminar devoted to criticism during which Lutosławski gives a lecture entitled ”The composer and the listener”.

28 May- 3 June
Jury member at the ISCM Festival in Copenhagen.

22 July
Lutosławski receives first-class State Award (the only composer to receive it).

Lutosławski finishes String Quartet. (commissioned by the Swedish radio)


12 March
LaSalle Quartet premieres String Quartet at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Stockholm

Lutosławski completes Paroles tissées .

25 September
LaSalle Quartet performs String Quartet at the Warsaw Autumn Festival.

It’s high time I described the main features of this type of aleatorism, which for a few years has been the subject of my own compositional experiments and which I could call ”limited” or ”controlled aleatorism” or perhaps ”aleatorism of texture”.

In order to make this concept more specific, I’ll quote here Meyer-Eppler’s well-known definition: ”aleatory processes are such processes which have been fixed in their outline but the details of which are left to chance”. Musical works composed in accordance with this definition don’t really go beyond the main conventions and traditions typical of European music. […] Aleatorism, thus defined, may seem to provide little innovation. It is true that it does not greatly change the perception of a musical work as an ”object in time”, but it does radically change it rhythmic and expressive physiognomy; and it is enough for the music composed in the manner I have been talking about, to sound totally different from the music to which chance does not apply.

(From a lecture given at the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in Stockholm in March 1965.)


Second trip to the USA. Eight of Lutosławski’s works are performed at the Hopkins Centre Art Festival Lutosławski meets and becomes friends with Mario di Bonaventura - an American conductor and the festival’s director. In New York Lutosławski receives the Jurzykowski Award.

17 September
Meeting with Mstislav Rostropovich that will lead to the creation of Cello Concerto.

18 October
First performance of the second part of Symphony No. 2 by the Hamburg Radio Orchestra conducted by Pierre Boulez.

1966 - Lutosławski signs with the Hansen (later Chester) publishing house.
During one of our subsequent meetings Rostropovich played Britten’s Suite for cello solo especially for me. He wanted to bring me closer to his playing, which in a private apartment was different from what it was in the concert hall.

He also asked me at that time to play tape recordings of my compositions for him. I played a tape with Paroles tisées. He studied the score very carefully while listening to the tape and at the end he said: ”I would like to play such music.” and after a moment: ”I would like to play this music”. This made me think a lot.  He also added something very significant: ”I’m still young for an artist and I have already played the whole cello repertoire; I would now like to play music I have never ever played”.

(Conversations with Tadeusz Kaczyński.)


Lutosławski receives the Herder Prize in Vienna and the Leonie Sonning Prize in Copenhagen. As a result, his financial situation improves considerably and he can afford to buy a house.

The first book on the composer published - Stefan Jarociński’s Materiały do monografii [Materials for a monograph].

18 October
Death of Maria Lutosławska.

The thing is that even if music can evoke associations with the rich world of human feelings, these associations can be very different for different people. Hence a simple conclusion: it does not matter whether the composer wrote his work under the influence of some extra-musical impulses; whether the work is associated in his mind or subconscious with some cycle of events; or whether the composer himself sees an image of something that could be described with words. All this belongs to the sources of musical inspiration.

For me, however, it never becomes the ultimate goal of a musical work. That is why - just like many other composers - I would not be able to say what exactly the music I wrote expresses.

(Conversations with Tadeusz Kaczyński.)


Second Symphony comes first at the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers.

Masterclass in Aarhus.

Lutosławski buys a modest villa in the Żoliborz district of Warsaw (39 Śmiała Street) where he can finally work in his dream sound-proof study.

18 November
Premiere of Livre pour orchestre at the Hagener Musiktage Festival.

When constructing large, closed forms, I realise that this work involves mainly organising the perception of my piece. For me a musical work is not only a sequence of sounds in time, but also a sequence of impulses that these sounds provide to the listener’s psyche, and reactions these impulses in turn trigger in the listener.

The knowledge of these impulses and reactions cannot be based solely on the experiences of the composer as listener and his conviction that among the other possible listeners there will be a certain number reacting in a similar way.
(Notes on the Construction of Large-Scale Forms [After Postcriptum].)


11 May
Concert at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam with Trois poemes (Lutosławski conducts the chorus) and Funeral Music.

Conducts Jeunesse Musicale camp in Olsztyn.

20 September
Polish premiere of Livre pour orchestre at the Warsaw Autumn Festival.

28 October
Lutosławski day at the Contemporary Music Days in Paris (five of his works are performed).

I was introduced to sailing 14 years ago by the commodore of the Yacht Club of Poland, Tadeusz Schuch, who took me on my first sailing trip - on the Vistula River to the town of Kazimierz and back. Soon, I bought an old Słonka class yacht on which I sailed for a while and finally I built an L class boat. It served me for many seasons on the Mazurian Lakes and is still going strong […]. The elements - water and wind - are capricious, varied, and unpredictable, which makes them similar to a living being. And this is why playing with them is so fascinating, just as …well, playing with life.

(Interview for the ”Żagle” [”Sails”] magazine.)