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Volume 19 Issue 4 - December 2013

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Previous page: Danuta

Previous page: Danuta and Witold Lutoslawskiwith Robert Aitken, Toronto. This page:Lutoslawski conducts at NMC, Toronto 1993.travelling with, especially the hard-fronted shirt. “Nevermind” they said, “We have a costume department.” Well,they had a costume department, but nothing my size, andthe suit I was eventually able to squeeze into harboured afew moths, but the holes were not too noticeable.Once I was suitably attired we went straight into thestudio and started taping. The first piece was recordedbefore I knew it and I was amazed; even more amazedwhen they asked if I would like to hear it and if there wereany passages I wanted to record again. Never in my life had a televisionproducer asked me if for musical reasons I would like to record somethingagain. And never in my lifetime had I stood in a television studiowith the first take being recorded. By the end of the afternoon, in asimilar fashion, the entire recital was filmed. In Toronto it would haverequired an entire day and in Germany perhaps three. Every shot wouldhave been carefully planned and no one would ever ask if I was contentwith my performance. A later film, from Katowice with Klaus Huberintroduced by John Cage ... was the same story, fabulous improvisationwith outstanding artistic results. Several of my best publicity photoscame from that production.Well on this first trip to Poland I did not meet Lutoslawski, but Iwrote him a letter in March 1977 inviting him to Canada. He had notime during the 1977/78 season but knew I was coming to the WarsawAutumn Festival, my first visit there, and said that we could discuss theToronto program at that time. Then because his Novelette for Rostropovichand the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington was notfinished, he delayed that concert again, from the 78/79 season to thefollowing one, so as to also include a conducting engagement in the USA.(This is often the way with important composers as the composing is farmore important to them than hearing the work performed.)First meeting: But even delays come to an end. In 1980 Mr. andMrs. Lutoslawski attended a performance of his work with the MontrealSymphony, then came to Toronto in time for a reception at thePolish Consulate on April 12, 1980 and stayed in town until the NewMusic Concert on April 19, giving his attention in between to interestedcomposition students and a major lecture in Walter Hall on April 18(plus of course rehearsals for the concert). What little time was left, hespent composing in the hotel room and proofreading the manuscriptwhich his wife Danuta copied each day. (Witold was very proud to talkabout his wife, the fabulous life they had together and what a wonderfulmusic copyist she was because of her training as a draftsman. There isno question that his scores are immaculate because of her talent and ofcourse her devoted love and appreciation for her husband.)Naturally we rehearsed in advance of his arrival, which may not havebeen necessary because after reading through the Preludes and Fugue atthe first rehearsal, Lutoslawski said “Bob, what do you expect me to do?Everything is perfect.” Needless to say he did find more to do, especiallywith Paroles tissées for tenor and ensemble. But then he went on to saythat in North America the orchestras were always well prepared andfar less rehearsal was requiredthan for his concerts in Europe.In Germany, for example, hesaid most players see the musicfor the first time when they findit on their music stand at thefirst rehearsal. Whereas he hadrecently conducted in Clevelandand several players came to himwith questions about their partseven before the rehearsal began,so he knew they had looked atthe music in advance.It is impossible to tell storiesof this nature without hearingin your mind’s ear Lutoslawski’swonderful, inimitable upper classEnglish accent, extremely politeand correct with one subjunctiveclause after another. Herarely told you what he wantedbut usually asked in a very politemanner. Such as, “Would it betoo much trouble? ...” or “Doyou suppose we could? ...” Whenvisiting, he always broughtpresents for my wife and me suchas the tie I am wearing today. Itbecame my lucky concert tieuntil the colour disappeared fromover-wearing. I wore it at almost every performance for many years asa good luck charm.During the ensuing years, I was frequently in Poland, three times forthe Warsaw Autumn Festival, a recital for the Warsaw Philharmonic,twice teaching and performing in Kazimierz Dolny (including the periodof Solidarity when airplanes flew overhead and tanks went through thestreets), various other concerts and the aforementioned film in Katowice.We met from time to time but mostly in passing except for a weektogether in Kazimierz and an invitation to their Polish home which Iwas pleased to see was very modest, much like our own.Outside Oslo: As I was also frequently in Norway at the time, I alsohad the occasion to visit the Lutoslawskis in their Oslo home. It wasmore like a cottage just outside the city not far from the family home ofMarcin Boguslawski, Danuta’s son. That visit turned out to be an eveningwhich anyone who knew Lutoslawski finds hard to believe. I do havea feeling it was some kind of noted holiday somewhere in the worldas the afternoon began very relaxed with an aperitif or two or three. Ithink it was something harmless like Cinzano or Campari, not vodka,but then came the question in that unforgettable slightly whiney aristocraticaccent, “How would you feel about some wine?” and followingmy affirmative response, “Do you suppose white would be appropriate?”Of course some excellent food from Danuta came next and when we,the two of us that is, had finished the bottle of Puligny-Montrachet therewas another question: “What do you think about some red wine? Doyou suppose this bottle of Château Lafite Rothschild would do?” But youknow, one bottle of red was not enough. We followed it with anothersuperior wine. At this point Danuta was beginning to get nervous buther concerns were gently pushed aside by Witold as he asked me if Ihad perhaps some interest in a Cognac? ... Well it would be unfair ofyou to ask what we discussed that evening, but I do know that at onepoint I asked Lutoslawski how he felt about all the parody pieces whichcomposers like George Crumb and Rochberg etc were writing at thattime. He said “Oh, I don’t mind composers using borrowed material,providing they can improve on it. Debussy for example.”Banff: Our next meeting was in 1986 at the Banff Centre where I wasin charge of contemporary music and of woodwind teaching for nineyears, and at that time director of the winter program. The Lutoslawskiswere very pleased to be there and very generous with their time andenergy. But the first thing Danuta did when she saw their lovely apartmentwith a fabulous view of the mountains | continued on page 35“I don’t mind composersusing borrowedmaterial, providing theycan improve on it”10 | December 1, 2013 – February 7, 2014 thewholenote.comANDRÉ LEDUC

HANNAFORD STREETSILVER BANDWELCOMECHRISTMASRobert CooperArtistic DirectorEdward MoroneyAccompanist7:30 p.m. Tuesday, December 17, 2013Yorkminster Park Baptist Church1585 Yonge StreetCollaborating for the first time in more than15 years, Robert Cooper and the Orpheus Choir jointhe renowned Hannaford Street Silver Band, alongwith YOUR uplifted voices, for an entertaining andinspirational evening of seasonal music in the warmsplendour of Yorkminster Park Baptist Church.A sparkling seasonal gift of big brass and song!Tickets: ; senior; studentorpheuschoirtoronto.com/buy-ticketshssb.ca/eventsBMOFinancial GroupFinancial GroupOrpheus Choir’s season sponsorBMO Financial GroupThe Jackman Foundation The Vern and Frieda Heinrichs Foundation The Michael and Sonja Koerner Charitable Foundation The Mary-Margaret Webb Foundation

Volume 26 (2020- )

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