Lutoslawski - Postludes for Orchestra No. 1

Vectoral Analysis by Diego Barbosa-Vásquez

Lutoslawski - Postludes for Orchestra No. 1

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Historical Background

The concept of serialistic structures more than series gives sense to this work in 1964. Since Stravinsky approaches to serialism in 1952, with some parts of the series, important advances in its concept were development. Milton Babbitt created concepts of series aggrupation that gives a new concept of saturation. Those advances started a development in rhythm and dynamic too. However, this work is focused only in the serialistic structures of pitch tones.

Overview, Structure, and Texture

The piece has a binary structure defined by the changes in the rhythmical, orchestration and dynamic models in part B. In addition, the part A1 has changes in its serialistic structure. In terms of texture, it creates an easily listening. The series chords structure is organized as pedals with overlapping changes that creates a sense of a longer pedal. In addition, the melodic figures are easily perceived due to its little rhythms and horizontal movements.

Orchestration Techniques

The composer uses a standard orchestra for this postlude. However, its use is very conservative in order to create a huge impact at the highest point of the section B. This part is the unique moment where the complete orchestra is playing together in a Tutta Forza Dynamic indication. The beginning is very soft due to the division of the strings, an element that is used create longer pedals with non- perceptible changes. The little and rhythmical melodies are placed in the woodwinds, harp and pitched percussive instruments with a duplication in the vl1. The indication of P dynamics maintains the soft sense. Even, the trumpet is used with the same dynamic when it has the same melodic importance. On the other hand, at the part B the pedals change for the winds and the rhythmical melodic motives are placed to the percussion where unpitched tambourines are divided in sizes to create a melodically and rhythmical patter.

Basic Techniques

The concept of saturation from the complementary of chords perspective is the base of this work. At the beginning the strings are based in a model with 5ths intervals that creates structures of two hexachords placed as harmonic environments: First moment (A-E / H-F# / C#-G#) second moment (Sib-F / C-G / Bb-Eb) with a D alone that completes the 12 tone series. In addition, this concept of saturation has an important moment at the Tutta Forza section B (bar 53) where the winds are playing the complete series of twelve tones at the same time. Furthermore, at the end of the postlude structure is based in a series of 5 pitches 5-4-3-2-1 with its transpositions that creates a sense of descending chromaticism from G# to Gb (octave lower).

Vertical Models

As is described above the vertical models are based in the concept of saturation by combinatoriality analysis. The 5ths intervals are clearly an important element in this vertical analysis. However, those organizations are based in the concept of two hexacordic regions creating a pedal of 6 notes in each saturation moment.

Horizontal Models

From the melodic perspective the motives tend to create balance in its short appearances. Each descending or ascending movement is the compensated by a contrarious movement. This repetitive patters creates a structure of a continues melodic idea that is used too in the section B with the percussion unpitched instruments but organized in sizes. From the point of view of the intervallic, its structure can be analyzed just in part A due to the unpitched instruments in part B. Hear, this changes are based in the diatonic or chromatic movement. Then this patters are used in thirds and finalized with tritons, major 7ths and 4ths.


The way that Lutoslawsky uses the concept of saturation in this work is an interesting example of how the serialistic twelve tone organization can be used in a different concept. Babbitt and its combinatoriality theories are important influences for this work. In addition, the orchestration decisions to create longer pedals of 6 pitches without a strong chock to the ear, is an important and remarkable compositional technique.

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