About the project

National Audiovisual Institute has launched the Three Composers website with the goal of popularizing the work of three eminent contemporary Polish composers: Witold Lutosławski, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, and Krzysztof Penderecki. By including an English language version of the site, its creators also hope to reach an international audience. 2013, designated the Year of Witold Lutosławski by the Polish Sejm, marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the first composer, and the 80th birthday of the latter two. By making this internet project a part of the year’s commemorative program, we hope to show the public that contemporary music need not be impenetrable and hermetic, and that the work of these three outstanding Poles will prove to be the best illustration of this claim.

The bulk of this online music collection comprises recordings from the archives of Polish Radio, digitized at the initiative of the National Audiovisual Institute as part of the Culture+ Long Term Program. It is the largest publicly available repository of the work of these three composers, and includes widely-known pieces as well as music that has almost been forgotten; great concert and theatrical pieces alongside scores for film, theater, and radio, and even popular songs — a total of 320 recordings and 380 entries.

The entries devoted to many pieces have been enriched with contextual material such as the composers’ own statements about the work, and opinions by critics and musicologists, many of which are contemporary to the discussed pieces. To additionally aid in the navigation of the composers’ enormous oeuvre, a chronological list of pieces has been compiled, the work has been categorized into the periods commonly used in academic studies of the subject, and readers may consult a glossary of terms associated with the work of the three artists. A visually-enhanced timeline places major events in their lifetimes in the historical and cultural context of the 20th and 21st centuries. The entries featured on the site were written by a team of musicologists and music editors led by associate professor Iwona Lindstedt, a musicologist at the University of Warsaw. The project was created by a team at the National Audiovisual Institute.

The recordings featured in the collection include performances conducted by the composers as well as world-class Polish and international conductors (including Antoni Wit, Witold Rowicki, Jan Krenz, Andrzej Markowski, Wojciech Michniewski, Zubin Mehta, Valery Gergiev). Some of the audio material was registered at premiere performances of the pieces, and is thus of great historical and archival value. Due to their historical significance, recordings of less than perfect quality have also been published in the collection.