The Polish composer Witold Lutosławski (pronounce the “ł” like a “w” and the “w”s like “v”s) isn’t as famous as his Russian contemporary Dmitri Shostakovich, but he had similar troubles with the Communist authorities in his time. Trained as a musician, Lutosławski became a radio operator for the Polish army when the Nazis invaded. He was captured by the Germans before escaping on a forced march to a prison camp. His Concerto for Orchestra, composed between 1950 and 1954, established his international reputation even while it earned him the condemnation of his country’s government, and he spent much of the next decades fighting for his artistic integrity while trying to please the authorities. Eventually, he supported the Solidarity movement that won freedom for Poland.
The concerto is a towering, modernistic work with an opening movement written in 9/8 time and a scherzo that calls for a muted tuba. (You’ve probably never seen a tuba mute. It’s huge.) This weekend, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra will play this piece with Ravel’s Bolero and Berlioz’ song cycle Les nuits d’été. You’ll likely agree after hearing it that Lutosławski deserves to be placed alongside those masters of orchestration.
Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra plays Fri-Sun at Bass Performance Hall, 555 Commerce St, FW. Tickets are $20-82. Call 817-665-6000.