In May 1947, an eighteen-strong delegation of Polish musicians, with Witold Lutosławski among them, travelled to the Danish capital for the annual World Music Days organised by the International Society for Contemporary Music. Lutosławski had to content himself with the role of a listener, because his Symphonic Variations, put forward for selection by his colleagues in Warsaw, had failed to make it onto the festival programme.
Danish music lovers were able to listen to Lutosławski’s works from 1960, when they began appearing on radio and concert programmes. But it was the Danish Radio Orchestra (Danmarks Radios Symfoniorkester) that Lutosławski had to thank for his first phonographic award. In 1963, the DRO’s recording of his Concerto for Orchestra was sent to a competition organised by the Society for the Friends of Music in Vienna, where it won first prize.
The year 1966 proved to be something of a watershed in Lutosławski’s Danish contacts. In February that year, the composer first conducted his works in Copenhagen. Together with Jan Krenz, who stood before the DRO, he led the chorus in Trois poèmes d’Henri Michaux. The opportunity was taken to invite Lutosławski to give a lecture on his music at the Copenhagen Conservatory. Also that year, the composer entrusted the management of his music in Western Europe to the publishing firm of Wilhelm Hansen.
A year later, he was awarded the Leonie Sonning Prize; six years earlier, Igor Stravinsky had become its first recipient. It was presented to Lutosławski in August, during the celebrations of the 800th anniversary of Copenhagen receiving municipal rights. That event was accompanied by intense promotion of the composer and his music in the Danish media. Several radio programmes on Lutosławski were broadcast, and the periodical Dansk Musik Tidsskrift devoted a whole issue to him.