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Krzysztof Meyer

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Krzysztof Meyer (b. 1943, in Cracow) — composer and pianist, studied under the direction of Stanisław Wiechowicz and Krzysztof Penderecki, supplementing his education with Nadia Boulanger, and privately with Witold Lutosławski. He was lecturer at institutions of higher learning in Cracow (1972-1987) and in Cologne (1987-2008). In 1965, he debuted at Warsaw Autumn with his String Quartet no. 1 as the youngest composer in the history of the festival. He composed symphonies, concerts, string quartets, the opera Cyberiad after Lem, and the oratorio Creation of the World; moreover, he authored many writings on the subject of music. Krzysztof Meyer’s works are performed in many musical centres of the world. The fruit of his interest in Dmitri Shostakovich is his authoritative monograph of the Russian composer and the completion of his unfinished opera The Gamblers.

Krzysztof Meyer’s acquaintanceship with Witold Lutosławski lasted 29 years, from the moment when the latter proposed to give him private lessons after the young composer’s debut at Warsaw Autumn. As Meyer remembers, the lessons were not limited to music: “He immediately began speaking about politics. This was extraordinary for me in the sense that in those times one would not speak of politics with someone well-known. But he wanted to let me understand that we did not live in a free country, and that the conditions in which we found ourselves were far from normal. And that we must remember this and pass it further on”. Krzysztof Meyer saw in it a gesture of patriotism and “an attempt at raising a young person also under this angle”. He also said of his master: “He would give me extraordinarily precise indications, surpassing in it my previous teachers, and I say this having studied under Nadia Boulanger. This was for me a novel discovery: how one can teach compositional technique, precision, cosistency, and logic”.

Meyer recalls Lutosławski’s credo: “Just as truth is the loftiest goal of science, beauty is the loftiest goal of art”.

In later years, the relation master – student became transformed into close acquaintanceship, and finally, friendship, during their collaboration at the Program Council of Warsaw Autum and the Board of the Polish Composers’ Union. In 1996, in Düsseldorf, Krzysztof Meyer organized the Polish Autumn, presenting the creative output of Witold Lutosławski, still little known in Germany. He devoted his Abschied-Music to his memory.

He said of Witold Lutosławski’s music: “He created a musical language completely autonomous from any currents, trends, and styles of any other composers, one that was inimitable and instantly recognizable. And in the twentieth century, not many can boast of that. It is a great joy for me to live in times where his music gains wide acclaim”.

Together with Danuta Gwizdalanka, Krzystof Meyer published a Polish collection of Lutosławski’s writings and statements titled Witold Lutosławski. Postscriptum, as well as the composer’s most comprehensive biography to-date, a work in Polish titled Witold Lutosławski. His Way to Maturity and Witold Lutosławski. His Way to Mastery, which he supplied with many personal reminiscences about the composer.

On January 24, 2013, Krzysztof Meyer was decorated with the Lutosławski Centennial Medal.

kt / trans. mk