Royal Albert Hall
The Royal Albert Hall has resounded to the music of Lutosławski on numerous occasions, beginning with a concert on 12 August 1960, when Alexander Gibson conducted Musique funèbre, as well as a work by one of Lutosławski’s favourite composer’s: Debussy’s Jeux. Lutosławski himself took to the composer’s rostrum at the Albert Hall in July 1979, leading the first British performance of Les espaces du sommeil. The composer was invited to the Proms on eight further occasions. In accordance with the practice of those concerts, he conducted one or two works. He twice conducted the Cello Concerto, but never the Concerto for Orchestra, although that work appeared on the programmes of Promenade concerts as many as nine times up to 2014, more than nearly any other work composed during the second half of the twentieth century. Premiered at the Proms were the songs Chantefleurs et Chantefables, after which the reviewer for The Sunday Telegraph wrote: ‘It is rare today to fall head over heels in love with a new work at first hearing, but it happened to me on Thursday at the Proms with the first performance of Lutosławski’s song-cycle Chantefleurs et Chantefables […] How refreshing to encounter music that had obviously been created out of sheer pleasure and a passion for beauty of sound’. Lutosławski last appeared at this festival on Friday 27 August 1993, conducting the British premiere of his Fourth Symphony. Before the concert, in accordance with tradition, he answered questions from the audience, and the encounter was led by Adrian Thomas. That work was performed three more times over subsequent years.
In 2013, the Proms marked the centenary of Lutosławski’s birth with the premiere of Thomas Adès’s work Totentanz, composed to a commission from the former director of Chester, Robin Boyle, in memory of Witold and Danuta Lutosławski.