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Witold Lutosławski

Publisher: Chester Music

Novelette (1979)
Commissioned by National Symphony Orchestra
Work Notes
Chester Music is the publisher of this work in all territories except Poland, Albania, Bulgaria, China, countries of the former Czechoslovakia, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, Romania, Hungary and the whole territory of the former USSR, where the copyright is held by Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne (PWM).
Chester Music Ltd (Polish Works)
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
18 Minutes
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Programme Note
Witold Lutosławski Novelette (1979)

Novelette owes its existence to Mstislav Rostropovich. When he was appointed Musical Director of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, he asked me to write a work for him to conduct with his new orchestra. This was not in fact the first occasion on which I composed a piece at the suggestion of this great artist; in the 1960s he had spurred me on to write a cello concerto. Composed very much with him in mind and dedicated to him, it was subsequently commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society in London, at one of whose concerts he gave the World Premiere.

Novelette is in five movements and despite the work’s almost miniature character, its total duration is eighteen minutes. As has happened in some of my other works, the last movement is more substantial than those which precede it, forming a kind of counterbalance to them. The titles of the movements are ‘Announcements’, ‘Three Events’ and ‘Conclusion’. The first movement is so-called because in it I present as it were samples of the ‘events’ which follow. The three are contrasting in character, the slow middle one being ‘buffo’ and the third one being a fast and sparkling scherzando. The ‘Conclusion’ consists largely of a slow heterophonic cantilena of two groups of violins with the accompaniment of other instruments playing ‘ad libitum’.

© Witold Lutoslawski

  • Ensemble
    Guildhall School of Music and Drama Symphony Orchestra
    L. Hopkins, cello
    Witold Lutoslawski / W. Michniewski
    Somm Recordings:
  • Ensemble
    BBC Symphony Orchestra
    K. Zimmerman, piano
    Witold Lutoslawski
    Deutsche Grammophon:
  • Ensemble
    Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
    A. Bauer, cello
    Antoni Wit
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