Krzysztof Penderecki


Date and place of birth: 1933, Dębica, Poland

Living place: Cracow, Poland

Theme: music

ECC Participation: Honorary Committee

One of the greatest modern composers of classical music. The European Center of Music in Lusławice, the goal of which is perfecting the abilities of young virtuosos, is named after him. Penderecki uses a wide variety of musical forms, from orchestral, through works utilizing vocals as well as instruments, up to operas. He writes scores for movies and theater productions. From 1972 to 1987 Penderecki was the rector of his alma mater, the Academy of Music in Cracow. He was also a visiting professor in Essen and at Yale.

”The music written during the last 20 or 30 years does not seem to follow any particular direction or adhere to any particular aesthetics. It’s somehow separate from what’s happening in the world.”

His works utilizing the sonorism technique (where new sounds obtained through unconventional usage of instruments were more important than melodies or rhythms) brought Penderecki international success and acclaim. The quintessential examples of this avant-garde technique were “Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima” (1961) and “Fluorescences” (1962). He later stopped using the radical technique and his subsequent works, “St. Luke Passion” (1966), “The Devils of Loudun” opera (1968) and the sacra rappresentazione entitled “Paradise Lost” (1978) utilize more classic forms.

Penderecki’s music has been played on all continents, and he himself has directed the greatest orchestra’s the world has ever seen. Recipient of numerous honorary doctor’s degrees and prestigious awards, like the Prince of Asturias Award (2001) and the Order of the White Eagle (2005). He composed the scores for Wojciech Jerzy Has’s “The Saragossa Manuscript”, Kubrick’s “The Shining” and Wajda’s “Katyń.”

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