Witold Lutosławski steadily gained recognition; he was placed first on the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers and was awarded several prizes for his recordings. He started to be honoured for his life’s work: including the Alfred Jurzykowski Foundation Prize in New York, the Gottfried-von-Herder-Preis in Vienna, and the Ernst von Siemens Musikpreis in Munich. In 1971 he received the first of several honorary doctorate degrees. His status as an avant-garde artist changed to that of a composer known to a wide audience; the most renowned soloists and ensembles performed his compositions.
Lutosławski enjoyed a stream of important commissions. Prompted by the London Royal Philharmonic Society, Lutosławski wrote his Cello Concerto for Mstislav Rostropovich. The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam commissioned Mi-parti; the Luzerna Festival received the Double Concerto for Holligers; and the Salzburg Festival – Piano Concerto for Krystian Zimmerman. Symphony No. 3 was premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Sir Georg Solti. Lutosławski also composed two cycles of songs for prominent singers: Paroles tissées for Peter Pears, and Les espaces du sommeil for Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. In addition, Lutosławski composed three pieces, titled to allude to his ‘chain technique’: Chain 1 for Anne-Sophie Mutter, Chain 2 for the London Sinfonietta, and Chain 3 for the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.
Lutosławski sporadically wrote chamber pieces, such as Sacher Variation, Epitaph, Grave. Metamorphoses, and Partita, but it was the orchestra that remained his favourite ‘instrument’. He demonstrated his passion for it in his conducting as well: beginning with his performance of the Trois poemes, he continued to conduct his pieces with the best European and American orchestras. He conducted his own works exclusively. His final concert as a conductor was in Toronto during the autumn, 1993.