During the Warsaw Autumn festival in 1961, Witold Lutosławski had the opportunity to make the acquaintance of his contemporary Benjamin Britten (both were born in 1913). Britten and Peter Pears had been invited to Poland to give a vocal recital. Two years later, in June 1963, Britten included Lutosławski’s Dances Preludes on the programme of the Aldeburgh Festival, in a version for clarinet and chamber orchestra not previously performed in public, conducting them himself.
Paroles tissées,a work composed by Lutosławski specially for the Aldeburgh Festival, with a solo part for Peter Pears, was performed there two years later, on 20 June 1965. The soloist was accompanied by the Philomusica of London ensemble, and the composer conducted. Those songs differed from earlier works by Lutosławski, who admitted that he was inspired to write them by that amazing recital which he had heard four years previously in Warsaw.
Paroles tissées brought Witold Lutosławski back to the same spot seven years later, when, at the Snape Maltings Concert Hall, a nineteenth-century malt house ceremoniously reopened as a concert hall in 1967 by Queen Elizabeth II, he recorded them with Pears and the London Sinfonietta; that initiated Lutosławski’s highly fruitful and enduring artistic collaboration with the LS.
Lutosławski was invited to the Aldeburgh Festival twice more during Britten’s lifetime (in 1973 and 1975). He last visited Aldeburgh in 1983, when his seventieth birthday was celebrated with a performance of several works and a discussion and lectures devoted to his music. Absent from the audience was Britten, who died in 1976.