The captain’s ballad
Lutosławski treated his light music as a source of income and did not nurture any great ambition with regard to it. His songs for adults do not equal those he wrote for children, nor are they as interesting as popular music that his younger “serious” colleagues composed, for example Adam Sławiński’s Night Emerged Around and Krzysztof Knittel’s An Autumn Concerto for Two Crickets. Yet some of Lutosławski’s lighter compositions won recognition. The foxtrot I’m No Longer waiting for Anyone Today, performed by Rena Rolska,became the radio song of the month in January 1960.Other great composers had flirted with popular music when forced by various circumstances, as in the cases of Schönberg’s cabaret songs and Szymanowski’s operetta Lottery for a Husband. Despite the existence of such a tradition, Lutosławski clearly had no respect for his light oeuvre and was even ashamed of it. Foxtrots, waltzes and tangos that he composed were signed always with the pseudonyms Bardos or Derwid. This distancing from his popular works may also have determined the choice of pseudonyms: Derwid is one of the writer Juliusz Słowacki’s protagonists, the hapless king from Lilla Weneda, who “holds a future seeing spirit in his harp, and when captured by his enemies, cries: O! no – never will you turn a captive king / into a menial harp player.” A visionary artist entangled in the mass-culture network and forced to think about his household budget could fully subscribe to those words.