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Witold Lutosławski

"In and of itself, music does not express any unambiguous non-musical content whatsoever. Music is music!" With these words, Polish composer Witold Lutosławski declared his understanding of music as an abstract form. Lutosławski, who early in his musical career was described as a "classic of the modern era", ranks among Poland's most significant composers. During Hitler's occupation of Poland, Lutosławski survived in the underground as a piano player in bars and music teacher. In 1948, the Communist régime denounced him as "formalistic" -- performances of his music were banned, and once again he had to eke out a living doing odd jobs. Not until Stalin's death was Lutosławski again free to devote himself to composing. Whereas his compositions were first influenced by Stravinsky and Bartók, as of 1961, his admiration of John Cage's aleatoric ideas prompted him to begin integrating improvisational passages into his works, to be played in accordance with strict instructions. After 1980, Lutosławski underwent another stylistic turn-about. His later works document a reception and musical relationship with French impressionistic music, which he greatly admired.

Born on January 25,1913 in Warsaw

Died on February 7, 1994 in Warsaw