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Michał Bristiger

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Michał Bristiger (1921-2016) — musicologist, Professor at the Institute of Art in the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences, doctor honoris causa of the University of Palermo, corresponding member of the American Musicological Society, honorary editor of the periodical Res Facta Nova, chief editor of the periodical De Musica.

Witold Lutosławski’s obituary written by Michał Bristiger in 1994 is among the most often quoted texts about the Polish composer. It reads in part: “We experienced His departure as a personal suffering, and it was felt to be a seismic wave in our entire culture. They say that the world of sounds is volatile in time, space, and history, and so I ask, how does it happen that we sense Witold Lutosławski’s music as a musical anchor in the tempestuous music history of our century? The music was His personal expression, one which simultaneously belongs to the spiritual fabric of the Polish people. Lutosławski exegit monumentum to our entire culture. To say that he was a Polish composer isn’t enough. Composers often bring the musical material of their home country into their works. With time, the opposite occured with Witold Lutosławski. It occurred after our first experiences and relations with His music, in the period of its reign. What was individual in it penetrated through us all, and suffused – consciously or naturally – our musical sensitivity to such an extent that the traits of His style started becoming identical with the ‘Polishness’ of Polish music. The same happened before with Karol Szymanowski, and still earlier with Fryderyk Chopin”.

In 2001, Michał Bristiger devoted the fifth celebration of the Polish Radio Music Festival, which he programmed, to the music of Witold Lutosławski. During the festival week (May 19-26) Lutosławski’s music was played along with works by Joseph Haydn, Maurice Ravel, Henri Dutilleux, Bela Bartók, Albert Roussel, Witold Maliszewski, and unexpectedly juxtaposed with compositions by Mieczysław Weinberg (String Quartet no. 13), Maurice Ohana (Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías), Giorgio Ghedini (Concerto dell'Albatro), and David Del Tredici (An Alice Symphony).

On January 24, 2013, Michał Bristiger received the honour of being decorated with the Witold Lutosławski Centenary Medal.

sw / trans. mk