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Krystyna Witkowska

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Krystyna Witkowska (1937-2018) — geophysicist (graduate of the Academy of Mining and Metallurgy in Cracow), relative of Witold Lutosławski (her grandfather, Marian, was the elder brother of Józef, the composer’s father, with whom he perished at the hands of the Bolsheviks). A passionate of the family’s history, she collected and partly published its documentation, and co-authored the book The Lutosławskis in Polish Culture (in Polish). She was active in the Society of the Nature Museum Friends in Drozdów and the Lutosławskis’ family estate, organized the Polish National Performance Competition of Witold Lutosławski’s Music for children and youth, and is a member of the Polish Genealogical Society. She prepared for publication the Polish philosopher Wincenty Lutosławski’s correspondence, and in the book The Stones that Speak (in Polish), the gravestone inscriptions from Warsaw’s Powązki Cemetary.

In an extended conversation with Grzegorz Michalski (Lutosławski in Memory, in Polish), Krystyna Witkowska told the family story, revealing the lesser-known side of the lives of Lutosławski and his close ones.

Lutosławski was always very interested in politics, simultaneously avoiding any sort of collaboration with the communist regime. In turn, as Krystyna Witkowska reminisces, “the moment when Solidarity began its activities, he ‘mounted his horse’. This was something indescribable, the kind of change that occurred in the way he spoke, the manner in which he reacted. Listening to him ‘anew’ was a pleasure. He became a completely new man. This was now his life. He was enraptured, for example, by the [Solidarity] contacts with Adam Michnik and Zbigniew Bujak. This was when he lived his life to the fullest, and him keeping guard at the coffin of Father Popiełuszko (the Catholic priest murdered by the Militia Police - trans. note) was no accident. He was simply in this movement”.

Krystyna Witkowska reminds us of the sensitiveness of the composer for the needs of others: “He was excessively modest. In fact, they both were... On the other hand, he made use of the money he made. He put it toward higher goals, about which he never, or at least rarely spoke”.

She is also delighted by the harmoniousness of the Lutosławskis as married couple: “They were absolutely indivisible — one without the other would simply not be able to function. There was no doubt that Witek (dim. of Witold — trans. note) was still in love with Danusia (dim. of Danuta), and that Danusia was in love with Witek. This was something which madly appealed to me”.

On January 24, 2013, at anniversary celebrations at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Krystyna Witkowska was honoured with the Lutosławski Centennial Medal.

kt / trans. mk