This season immerse yourself in the music of Witold Lutosławski, one of the 20th century’s great musical voices, with Esa-Pekka Salonen and Philharmonia Orchestra.
To celebrate the centenary of this important composer, Salonen – who this year celebrates his fifth season as the Orchestra’s Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor – has created a concert series Woven Words, 'Music begins where words end': Lutosławski Centenary 2013. Salonen’s programming has consistently focussed on rediscovering and reinvigorating the music of the past, and audiences and critics alike have praised the results; ‘The Philharmonia is on a high with Esa-Pekka Salonen’ (The Observer).
Salonen enjoyed a very close relationship with the Polish composer, citing Lutosławski as ‘one of the greatest influences in my life. I think of him almost daily,’ he says. ‘He taught me many lessons of humility and realism, as well as about music, of course,’ he adds. ‘There was a time when I wrote a paper on his Second Symphony and I analysed the harmonic structure very, very meticulously and realised that he had deviated from his own system a few times. I was a young man and I flew straight to Lutosławski, who was conducting in Switzerland, and had lunch with him. I said, “Maestro, I believe you have made a mistake here.” I’m still so ashamed. And he said, “Esa-Pekka, I have to tell you a story. A young Hermann Scherchen [a leading German conductor of the 20th century] found a couple of similar kinds of mistakes in Hindemith’s opera Mathis der Maler and he pointed this out to Hindemith, who said, “My dear Hermann, if you don’t make it as a conductor, you’ll make a great proof reader.” And I learned something important that day.’
Another meeting was in the early 1990s, when Lutosławski met up with Salonen in Stockholm: ‘he said, “I just finished this symphony and I was wondering whether your orchestra would like to play it.” And of course I nearly fainted because the world had been waiting for the next Lutosławski symphony for years! I was so excited and he just had this very mysterious, beautiful smile on his face.’
‘Over the years, I have gone through practically every piece of his music with him and not only did we talk about his music, but also every other kind of music, so all the programme combinations in this project are based on his preferences. We also play some of the works that were dearest to him and were closest to him in his own compositional work. The series gives me an immense pleasure. I so wish that he would be there so I could show it to him.’
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