01 October 2018

Bubbly Lullaby

I would do anything for love.  Absolutely anything, because that's the kind of guy I am.  Oh!  You're asking for the one thing I won't do!  Thank you for playing.
Porridger's Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

At about the time when I heard first composed Lutosławski's Lullaby, I composed also a fairly brief program note.  I substantially expanded upon this note afterwards, tying in the piece's possible placing in Little Towns, Low Countries, which was in fact an idea contemporary with the original composition, but an idea which I believe I left out of the original program note.

The following is not the original program note as I wrote it in the late 1990s, but my attempt, now, to reconstruct it, as a reduction of the expanded remarks.  (On the other hand, it may be exactly as I wrote it, then.)

About the Dance Postlude: Lutosławski's Lullaby for piano solo Op.25

The first time I went to Petersburg was a day-trip from Tallinn, Estonia.  I took a bus to the city of Peter the Great; walked around the part of town between Arts Square and the Winter Palace, looked for the first time upon the granite-faced fortress of Peter and Paul across the River Neva, spent a dazzling and tantalizingly brief hour in the Hermitage, and missed my bus going back.

Any first-time visitor to such a beautiful, enchanting, and poetical city as Petersburg might have done so, and might have spoken as little Russian as did I.  As little Russian as I spoke means in fact, not the least word.  A succession of kindly strangers pointed me along the stages of making my way to Varshavsky (Warsaw) Station, whence trains depart also for Tallinn.  At that train station, so different from Penn Station or Grand Central, a series of delightfully implausible circumstances led to my being introduced to the wonderful woman who is now my wife.

As the name suggests, trains also depart from Warsaw Station for Poland.  I left on the train for Tallinn little dreaming (— no, I did dream, but I hardly dared think much of the dream —) that the young woman I had met, for such a brief time, would eventually permit me to marry her.  Later, I promised to write her a piano piece.

In Tallinn, I heard the Estonian National Philharmonic play Lutosławski's Symphony № 4, and I learned that Lutosławski had passed away.  I did not travel to Warsaw, but I heard a train rumbling from Petersburg to Poland, the mechanical rhythms of the iron horse lulling a composer to sleep.

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