Composers / Witold Lutosławski / Places catalog


The music lovers of Washington owed their first contact with the music of Witold Lutosławski to Yehudi Menuhin, who during a concert organised by Amnesty International in 1970 led a performance of a Postlude. Contrary to its title, on the concert programme it actually served as a prelude – to symphonies by Schubert and Beethoven.

A couple of years later, it was from Washington that Lutosławski received his first American commission. The initiator was Mstislav Rostropovich, who in 1977 had been appointed artistic director of the National Orchestra in Washington.

‘I always commissioned works for orchestra alone, without a soloist, since when preparing the first performance I had to concentrate all my energies on the new score – related Rostropovich with regard to his repertoire policy in Washington at that time. – Since experience had taught me that the public was rather reluctant to make the effort to come to us when a program contained solely contemporary music, any soloists had to have some “candy” waiting for them: Tchaikovsky, Liszt, Chopin, etc.

– I’d be rather sceptical about your candy – riposted his interlocutor, Claude Samuel. – It seems to me that in such situations nobody wins. Anyone who loves the classics will have to swallow new music for a whole half-hour, and anyone who esteems Lutosławski might despise Tchaikovsky.

– No, that’s not true – said Rostropovich, defending his stance. – There are at least ten times as many Tchaikovsky devotees as there are fans of Lutosławski. I have to convince that majority, and I am certain that Lutosławski’s huge talent will make an impression on them’.

Thus arose Novelette, performed for the first time on 29 January 1980 at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. It was programmed next to the Cello Concerto, well known to Rostropovich, in which he performed as the soloist, handing the baton to Lutosławski. In the second part of the concert, the audience was offered ‘candy’ in the form of Antonín Dvořák’s Fourth Symphony.

The concert was repeated three times, and whilst during the first evening ‘the hall was restless, and a few people were snickering’, the next day – as the reviewer for the New Yorker noted – ‘people were listening with much greater interest and attention’. The reporter for the Washington Post noted that ‘the work was very warmly applauded’. The reception for Novelette was commented on by the reviewer for Newsweek: ‘unlike the thin, repeated textures in most modern music, Lutosławski’s acoustic tissue is rich and diverse, with undulating lines and dramatic development. It has everything that people usually associate with good music – with the exception of traditional melody and harmony’.

Place Category
Aix-en-Provence Appearances
Aldeburgh Appearances
Amsterdam Appearances
Århus Education
Aspen Appearances
Austin Other
Baranów Sandomierski Other
Basel Other
Basztowa Street Performance spaces
Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts Other
BBC Orchestra and other ensembles Appearances
Belfast Other
Berea Performance spaces
Berlin Appearances
Białystok Education
Boston Appearances
Brisbane Other
Budapest Other
Calgary Education, Other
Cambridge Other
Celle Publishers / Bookshops
Chicago Appearances
Cincinnati Other
Cleveland Appearances
Cologne Other
Copenhagen Appearances
Cracow Philharmonic Performance spaces
Dartington Education
Donaueschingen Other
Dresden Other
Drozdowo Flats
Düsseldorf Appearances
Edinburgh Other
Evian Appearances
Filmography Radio / TV
Florence Appearances
Geneva Appearances
Glasgow Other
Graz Other
Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Hagen Other, Performance spaces
Hamburg Other
Hanover (New Hampshire) Other
Helsinki Education
Herkulessaal Appearances, Performance spaces
Houston Other
Huddersfield Appearances
Indianapolis Other
Jagiellonian University Education
Katowice Other
Kazimierz nad Wisłą Other
Komorów Flats
Łagów Other
Lancaster Appearances
La Rochelle Appearances
Leeds Appearances
Leipzig Education, Performance spaces, Publishers / Bookshops
Lisbon Appearances
Liverpool Appearances
Łomża Education
London Sinfonietta Performance spaces
Los Angeles Appearances
Louisville (Kentucky) Other
Lublin Appearances
Lucerne Other
Madrid Appearances
Manchester Appearances
Mikołajki Other
Milan Appearances
Montreal Appearances
Moscow Appearances
Munich Philharmonic Appearances, Performance spaces
New York Appearances
Odense Education, Performance spaces
Olsztyn Education
Opio (near Grasse) Flats
Oslo Other
Paris Appearances
Pittsburgh Appearances
Poznań Other
Prague Appearances
PWM EDITION Publishers / Bookshops
Riga Performance spaces
Rome Other
Rotterdam Appearances
Royal Albert Hall Appearances, Performance spaces
Royal Philharmonic Society Appearances
Saint Paul (Minnesota) Other
Salzburg Other
San Francisco Appearances
Strasbourg Appearances
Stockholm Appearances
Sydney Appearances
Szczecin Other
Tanglewood Education, Other
Tokyo Appearances
Toronto Education
Toruń Education
Venice Performance spaces
Vienna Performance spaces
Villars-sur-Ollon Other
Warsaw Appearances, Flats, Other, Performance spaces
Washington Appearances
Wawel Appearances
Wehr near Rheinfelden Other
Wrocław Other, Performance spaces
Wzdów Other
Zagreb Performance spaces
Zegrze Other
Zurich Performance spaces