Twenty Polish Christmas Carols
Twenty Polish Christmas Carols (Polish: 20 polskich kolęd) is a collection of Polish carols arranged for soprano and piano in 1946 by the Polish composer Witold Lutosławski (1913–1994) and then orchestrated by him for soprano, female choir, and orchestra in 1984–89.  The tunes and texts were taken mostly from 19th-century printed sources.
Twenty Polish Christmas Carols for soprano, female choir and orchestra is a composition of Witold Lutosławski. The composer collected the Christmas carols in 1946 in hard times in Poland at the request of the Director of the Polish Music Publishing. Nazi Germany had plundered the land and emaciated, then came the troops of Stalin, who on behalf of the Soviet Union over again did. Normal life was hard, but also the cultural life was under pressure from what the authorities allowed or not. A spell of arts hung permanently in the light, as a few years later showed Lutosławskis First Symphony.
In such a climate is collecting Christmas songs a harmless, yet rewarding work. Known songs as a composer can not provide you with overly complex music, such as those in the 40s could be heard elsewhere. On the other hand carols do generally well in the population and in bad times. Twenty Polish Christmas Carols is an atypical composition within the oeuvre of the composer. No hard music theoretical work, but a melodic interplay between soloist, choir and orchestra.
Lutosławski first composed a cycle for voice and piano. Aniela Szleminska (soprano) and Jan Hoffman gave in Krakow the implementation of a number of songs from this cycle. Then it disappeared in the drawer. The composer took almost forty years later the work again and came up with a version for soprano, women’s chorus and orchestra.
On December 15 1985 was the first performance of that version. Marie Slorach sang accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra with choir probably led by the composer. Who had then only seventeen of the twenty songs with an orchestration. On December 14th 1990 the time had come. The Chamber Orchestra of Scotland with accompanying choir played the work with soloist Susan Hamilton in Edinburgh. This version was equipped with English-language texts, while the previous versions are still in the Polish. Twenty Polish Christmas Carols have been likened to folksong settings by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
The Polish texts were drawn from a number of books: