Composers / Witold Lutosławski / Routes
Lutosławski first came to London for the World Music Days in the summer of 1946. In accordance with accepted practice at the International Society for Contemporary Music, national sections put forward a number of works, but the final selection was made by an international jury. The list of Polish propositions included the Symphonic Variations, but they were not included on the programme, and Lutosławski attended the festival solely as a listener. A year later, however, the Variationswere performed in London, thanks to Grzegorz Fitelberg, who included them on the programme of his concert with the BBC orchestra. The falling of the Iron Curtain between East and West then brought a ten-year hiatus.
In 1958, the Concerto for Orchestra was recorded for the BBC, and two years later Musique funèbre was performed at the Proms. Lutosławski’s contacts with England became increasingly strong, and the presence of his works was growing. It no other city besides Warsaw were so many first performances of his music given as in London. It was here that the Cello Concerto, Chain I and Chantefleurs et Chantefables were all heard for the first time. Only in London did Lutosławski conduct those first performances himself (Chain I and Chantefleurs et Chantefables). Lutosławski’s frequent visits to London were favoured by the fact that his publisher, Chester, was located there. And a seemingly minor, but by no means trifling, effect of those visits were the supplies of manuscript paper that Lutosławski was able to bring back to Warsaw from London. For composers of his generation, that was a fundamental tool of the trade, but in in Poland at that time it was impossible to come by.