The Dance Preludes for clarinet and piano, which he later orchestrated, date from 1954. This was a year after Stalin's death, which signaled the beginning of a thaw in cultural totalitarianism; that same year Lutoslawski finished his Concerto for Orchestra, the work which established his international reputation. These Dances, alternately fast and slow, celebrate the rhythms and tunes of folk dances from North Poland; Lutoslawski called them his "farewell to folklore".

The Dance Preludes for clarinet and piano, which he later orchestrated, date from 1954. This was a year after Stalin's death, which signaled the beginning of a thaw in cultural totalitarianism; that same year Lutoslawski finished his Concerto for Orchestra, the work which established his international reputation. These Dances, alternately fast and slow, celebrate the rhythms and tunes of folk dances from North Poland; Lutoslawski called them his "farewell to folklore". Another early work is Dance Preludes, a set of five pieces first composed for clarinet and piano. There is a fair amount of contrast from one piece to another, but they are bound together by the debt they owe to the composer’s national music and to his way of using it to create something highly personal yet acceptable to the authorities.