Film music (1935–1946)
Recording not available.
When it comes to film music, Lutosławski’s output is very modest, especially when compared with film oeuvres of his distinguished colleagues Kazimierz Serocki, Tadeusz Baird, Krzysztof Penderecki and Jan Krenz.
Lutosławski belonged to the Film Authors Cooperative in the 1930s, along with such avant-garde directors as Eugeniusz Cękalski and Franciszka and Stefan Themerson. In that period he wrote music to the short films Attention, directed by the Themersons, and Fire! and Short Circuit, directed by Cękalski. These were educational films focused on hazards associated with the use of electric appliances. Modern pictures must have been accompanied by music with some unconventional sound; we know very little about that music today, as all three films were lost during the war. We can draw some conclusions as to the nature of the soundtrack from surviving reviews and from Lutosławski, who recalled the Themersons’ and his own work as “abstract movement composition” and a “symphony of sound and light”.
After the war he composed music to just two films. The first was Stanisław Możdżeński’s propaganda documentary Along the Odra River to the Baltic Sea (1945), about the Recovered Territories along the German border. The second, Tadeusz Makarczyński’s documentary Warsaw Suite, showed residents returning to live in the ruined city. The music in the former, overwhelmed by the propaganda commentary, serves as a background and does not matter much. The soundtrack to Warsaw Suite, on the other hand, is interesting and is the only sonic element in the film. Lutosławski used a large orchestra with his characteristic mastery. Particularly impressive is the setting to the last part, Warsaw Spring: images of trees blossoming in the ruins of the capital is accompanied by music with complex harmony and shimmering texture – a signal of the composer’s future style.In the late 1950s Andrzej Wajda asked Lutosławski to write music to his new film. However, the author of Funeral Music refused, for by that time he had given up composing utilitarian works. Wajda’s excellent film Lotna – which the director mentioned in his request – was shown with Tadeusz Baird’s music.