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Pitch organisation in the music of Witold Lutoslawski since 1979

By John Charles Bodman Rae


Organisation of pitch in the vertical and horizontal planes has been, and continues to be, the overriding compositional concern of Witold Lutoslaweki. Previous writings on the composer and his music have touched on the subject, in many cases merely superficially, in some cases in more depth; nevertheless, significant aspects of his musical language and compositional technique have hitherto remained overlooked, The present study aims to correct this imbalance by providing a detailed examination of\ud Lutoslawski's methods of pitch organisation as developed and deployed since 1957, with particular reference to the works composed since 1979. The study has been carried out with reference to primary source materials: including\ud all the composer's pre-compositional sketches; his autograph scores; hitherto unpublished lectures; and the transcripts of my many hours of specially tape-recorded conversations with Lutoslawski.\ud \ud Chapter One introduces and outlines the case for consideration, with emphasis on his redefinition of harmonic language in the late 1940s, and draws attention to the decisive turning point in 1979 whIch has led to the\ud emergence of his late style. Chapter Two examines his dramatic shaping of large-scale forms, with reference to some aspects of proportional analysis. The remaining three chapters of Part One provide detailed analysis of\ud Lutoslaweki's methods of pitch organisation, drawing examples from many of his works composed since 1945. Chapter Three, 'Vertical Pitch Organisation:\ud Harmony', presents a classification of his 12-note chords and chordaggregates. Chapter Four, 'Horizontal Pitch Organisation: Melody', presents a classification of melodic lines based on a technique identified here in terms of interval-class pairings. Chapter Five, 'Oblique Pitch\ud Organisation: Polyphony', examines the relationship between his technique of aleatory counterpoint end his methods of organising pitch. \ud \ud The five chapters of Part Two provide detailed analytical examination and critical discussion of each major work composed since 1979, with particular reference to the methods of pitch organisatlon identified in Part One and\ud the way these have been developed and refined. The following works are represented: Epitaph (1979); Double Concerto (1979-80); Grave (1981); Symphony no.3 (1981-83); Chain 1 (1983); Partita (1984); Chain 2 (1985); Chain 3 (1986); Piano Concerto (1987-88); Interlude (1989); Chantefleurs et Chantefables (1989-90)

Publisher: School of Music (Leeds)
Year: 1992
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:467

Suggested articles



  1. (1973). review of Allen Forte's The Structure of Atonal Music (New Haven,
  2. (1981). review of Stucky's Lutoslawski and his music (Cambridge,
  3. Tadeusz: 'Witold Lutoslawski's Chain
  4. WOLIKOWSKA, Izabela z Lutoslawekich: Roman Dmnowski:

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