composer, multiinstrumentalist, singer. Born July 30th, 1955, Będzin (southern Poland). He studied composition with Tadeusz Paciorkiewicz and Zbigniew Rudziński at the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw. During his five-years stay in New York he was under direct influence of the personality and music of John Cage. Participant of composing courses of Karlheinz Stockhausen in Kürten.
In 1986-1991 he lived and worked in New York, from 1991 – in Kaunas (Lithuania) and since 2000 he has been living in Warsaw (Poland).
Litwinski composes songs, chamber music, writes music for ballet, modern dance, theatre and film, creates performances and concerts in non-traditional spaces, as singer and multiinstrumentalist he performs in many improvisational music ensembles. Co-funder of artists' and composers' groups: Cytula Tyfun da Bamba Orkiester (1981), Independent Studio of Electro-acoustic Music (1982-84), Light from Poland (1985-86), Litwinski Ensemble & Choir (1987-91), Sol et Luna (since 2000), Mud Chevaliers (since 2004).
As composer and musician he has presented his music (solo and with ensembles) in many countries of Europe, USA (e.g. Carnegie Hall), Canada, Russia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine and Iran.
In his compositions he “unites different cultures, languages and ages”, still “always retains the feeling of homeland” (The New York Times).
His music is “harmonious and vibrant with life”, characterized by “perfect sense of the moment, a feeling for microcosmic detail” and often “sounds like a wonderful melody heard on the street” (The New York Times). It has evoked vast response and gained appreciation of listeners and critics alike, in America and Europe. John Cage, on hearing his music expressed his opinion: “It is simply wonderful”. John Schaefer, in his book „New Sounds – A Listener’s Guide to New Music” (Harper & Row, Londyn, 1987) describes Litwiński's music as “heartbreakingly beautiful”.
Participated in many festivals of new music, e.g. Inventionen in Berlin, Bang on a Can in New York, Contrasts in Lviv, Audio Art in Cracow and Warsaw Autumn in Warsaw. The listeners of John Schaefer's program “New Sounds” (American Public Radio) have chosen Litwiński the “composer of the year” 1986.
Litwinski has written many scores for ballet and modern dance (e. g. for choreographers such as Ohad Naharin, Royston Maldoom, Muna Tseng, Amy Sue Rosen, Pat Cremins, Tamar Rogoff, Marika Blossfeldt). Awards (e. g. Bessie Award 1989 - New York Dance and Performance Award – for the ballet Safe Tradition – chor. Ohad Naharin), numerous commissions (e. g.. the ballet Mansland for the opening of the season of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre 1988/1989 – chor. Ohad Naharin; Composer-in-Residence at the American Dance Festival 1990 – The Object Lesson – chor. Amy Sue Rosen; Earth Mysteries for the China Institute in 1991 – chor. Muna Tseng, Aula for Museo dei Fori Imperiali in Rome, 2003 – chor. Pat Cremins,
Among the most recent compositions of chamber music are: SOMNIVM for two voices and 12 instruments (including western, Persian and Chinese instruments) for the Warsaw Autumn 2009, iki for female and male voice, cello and glass harmonica.
Mieczysław Litwiński is also a singer of ”virtuosic vocal range” (The New York Times) and “exceptional personality on stage” (The Village Voice). The article in “Talk of the Town” section of New Yorker devoted to Litwiński and his music says “during Litwinski's concert, the only thing moving in the room is the music, the audience is listening as if spellbound”. „Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung” calls him “musician and alchemist in one person” and speaks about “the essence of the world turned into music”. The Lithuanian daily „Lietuvos Rytas” calls him “a magus of music”.
In New York, he has performed his compositions, solo and in ensembles (e.g. Litwinski Ensemble & Choir), in many different venues, from Carnegie Hall, through Lincoln Center, Merkin Concert Hall, Museum of Natural History, Great Hall of Cooper Union, to such legendary “downtown” venues as LaMama, Dance Theater Workshop or Knitting Factory.
As musician-multiinstrumentalist he has also co-operated with many composers and ensembles from new music circles, e.g. Harmonic Choir (David Hykes), Tibetan Singing Bowl Ensemble (Raphael Mostel), Love of Life Orchestra (Peter Gordon), First Avenue Ensemble. He has also participated in the realization of many films, e. g. brothers Coen movies (Raising Arizona, Barton Fink) and performed together with the well-known figures as John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, Hamid Drake, Paolo Pandolfo. In Poland he presently cooperates with the group of improvising composers Mud Chevaliers. The ensemble has participated in festivals of contemporary music Warsaw Autumn 2006, Chopin and his Europe 2007, Audio Art, Musica Polonica Nova, Warsaw Music Meetings. In the Autumn 2011, as part of the program of Polish presidence in the European Union, the group has performed in Moscow, Minsk, Berlin and Brussels.
Litwinski performs his music in the duo Sol et Luna (with Saba Krasoczko). The duo have performed e. g. in Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Italy (in the Foro Traiano in Rome), in Lithuania, Estonia and Iran.
He cooperates with theatres – in Poland e.g. Węgajty (The Ghastly Shroud based on Adam Mickiewicz's Ancestors dir. Wacław Sobaszek), Kana, Gardzienice, Wierszalin, Montownia, Scena Lubelska 30/32, Videotheatre Poza and the Wroclaw Mime Art Theatre. In Lithuania – with the theatre Miraklis, Modern Dance Theatre Aura, Dramatic Theatre in Kaunas.
Litwiński is also the author and director of Missa Pagana, a wandering spectacle to the words of Edward Stachura poetry, realized about 20 times in different seasons and different Polish landscapes, in cooperation with the Village Theatre Węgajty. He is also the co-author of the play Officina Ferraria based on a 17th C Silesian alchemical poem (in collaboration with Andrzej Urbanowicz and Henryk Waniek).
He has conducted classes and lectures at the Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, New York Open Center as well as New School, New York University, and the conservatories in Riga, Tallin, Klaipeda. For almost 30 years he has been running a versatile educational activity – various workshops for children, youth and adults (e. g. Contemporary Art Centre in Warsaw, Child Art Centre in Poznań), also “integrational”, with the participation of disabled people, music workshops for children and teachers (for the Foundation Music is for Everyone and others).
He has collaborated with many museums: e.g. American Museum of Natural History, Roerich Museum and Whitney Museum in New York, Museo dei Fori Imperiali in Rome, Modern Art Museum in Isfahan, Iran, Čiurlonis Museum in Kaunas and the Museum of Asia and Pacific in Warsaw.
Litwiński's musical and cultural interests are vast and encompass a great range of the musical heritage of many cultures and historical epochs. In his practice he uses music material ranging far both in geographic and historical sense. As singer and multiinstrumentalist, through his journeys and live contacts with musicians, he constantly learns and practices musical traditions of Poland, Lithuania and the Orient (Iran, India, China). His interests and linguistic knowledge are often expressed in the multi-language material of his pieces.
Litwiński has received grants of the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage as well as the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania.
January 2013 (sk)