Dębica (Poland), 1933 – Kraków (Poland), 2020
Composer • Conductor

Composer, conductor, and teacher, Krzysztof Penderecki was born in Debica (Poland) in 1933. In 1959, he entered three works in the second annual Warsaw competition for young composers organized by the Polish Union of Composers and was awarded first prizes for all three: Strophes, Emanations and Psalms of David. From that moment on he led a dazzling career, with works performed throughout Europe. He is considered one of the most important figures of the musical avant-garde.

Penderecki creates new sonorities with orchestral instruments, particularly the strings. Glissandi, clusters, and chance gestures were among the techniques he explored during the 1960s. Later he gradually abandoned this avant-garde style, composing music that might be described as neo-Romantic, traditional, and accessible. This change elicited sharp criticism from modernists, but Penderecki responded to his detractors head on: he considered his music neither traditional nor avant-garde but truly authentic.

With over one hundred works to his credit, Penderecki’s oeuvre runs the gamut between vocal and orchestral pieces, by way of chamber music, concerti and solo works. Sacred music occupies a significant place in his overall artistic production. Krzysztof Penderecki has been recognized the world over with an array of awards and other distinctions, including nine honourary doctorates.