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About this Piece

Composed: 1993

Length: c. 1 minute


First Los Angeles Philharmonic performance: November 4, 1993, Franz Welser-Möst conducting

In the last decade of his life, Lutoslawski became closely associated with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Most of his major works were presented in concert by the orchestra, the Philharmonic Institute Orchestra, or the New Music Group, often with the composer conducting and often in premiere performances. Highlights include the West Coast premiere of the Third Symphony on Esa-Pekka Salonen’s debut concerts with the Philharmonic in 1984 and the world premiere of the Fourth Symphony in February 1993, Lutoslawski conducting. The recording of the Third Symphony by Salonen and the LA Phil won a Grammy, a Cecilia Prize, a Koussevitzky Award, and the 1986 Gramophone Award for Best Contemporary Record. Salonen and the Philharmonic also recorded the Fourth Symphony twice (for Sony and DG Concerts), as well as the Second Symphony, Les espaces du sommeil (with baritone John Shirley-Quirk), the Piano Concerto (with soloist Paul Crossley), and Chantefleurs et Chantefables (with soprano Dawn Upshaw).

They also recorded Fanfare for Los Angeles Philharmonic, which was the first in a series of fanfares written by distinguished composers in celebration of the Philharmonic’s 75th Anniversary Season. Brilliantly scored for brass and percussion, the Fanfare opens on a diminished fifth that immediately expands as a chromatic wedge through a major seventh in both directions. In one bar it reaches a typically Lutoslawskian ad libitum passage, where the pitches and rhythms of each part are fully notated but unsynchronized. A chordal, metrically goosed passage roughly reverses the shape of the wedge, followed by another ad libitum section, this one static in pitch but rhythmically hyperactive. A syncopated tussle pitting trumpets and horns against trombones and tuba opens another musical wedge, reaching a fresh take on the first ad libitum section. In the final bars the brass confirm the arrival point with staccato chords built on seconds and sevenths that come to a rest on a major third – in context surprisingly consonant but characteristically both logical and ambiguous – while the timpani with three notes tersely summarize the main direction of the piece.