Witold Lutoslawski was indisputably one of the major composers of the twentieth century. Born in Warsaw in 1913, he received his training in composition at that city’s conservatory. Plans for further studies in Paris were dashed when he was mobilised by the Polish army in 1939. He was eventually captured by the Germans but managed to escape and make his way back to Warsaw. After the war Lutoslawski persevered in spite of Stalinist censorship and began to establish an international reputation in the 1950s with his Concerto for Orchestra and Musique Funèbre. From the early 1960s until his death in 1994 Lutoslawski produced a large number of celebrated and influential works, including Trois poèmes d’Henri Michaux, the String Quartet, the Second and Third Symphonies, and the Piano Concerto.
Throughout his career, Lutoslawski garnered many international prizes, including the UNESCO Prize (1959,1968), the Ordre français du Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres (1982), the Grawemeyer Award (1985), the Royal Philharmonic Society Gold Medal (1986), and in the last year of his life, the Swedish Polar Music Prize and the Inamori Foundation Prize, Kyoto, for his outstanding contribution to contemporary European music.