The 20th-Century Classic

The exceptional style of his mature oeuvre, the timeless appeal of many of his works and his contribution to the avant-garde, made Lutosławski, in his old age, a 20th-century classic.

As a ‘present’ for his 75th birthday the composer gave himself the project that he had attempted and abandoned a half a century earlier, the Piano Concerto. This renewed effort, concluded with a successful performance by Krystian Zimerman at the Salzburg Festival in 1988.

Forty years after his Songs for Children he wrote Chantefleurs et Chantefables, also set to nursery rhymes. Written for no particular occasion, they may have been the most personal works of Lutosławski.

His 80th birthday was marked with the premiere of Symphony No. 4, which he conducted in February 1993 in Los Angeles. During that year, spent on the road conducting his pieces, he was honoured for his almost sixty-years of musical productivity with numerous prizes, including the prestigious Polar Music Prize and Kyoto Prize. His physical and mental condition was remarkable. His head was brimming with new ideas.