Krzysztof Penderecki
23.11.1933 Dębica – 29.03.2020 Kraków

World class composer, conductor, teacher. One of those who created the new face of Polish music in the 20th century. One of the most outstanding and appreciated personalities not only in music but also in the wider circles of culture and art. Recipient of five prestigious Grammy Awards in 1986, 1998 (two), 2000, and 2016. Krzysztof Penderecki’s lavish and varied music has resounded all over the world, primarily in Europe, both Americas, Asia, and also Australia, for over 60 years. A testimony to his rank are numerous Polish and foreign honours and decorations, as well as prizes and titles awarded to Penderecki in various countries all over the globe, the international festivals and competitions named after him, and first and foremost the performances of his works by outstanding virtuosos and leading orchestras in the prime concert halls of the world. The composer received honorary doctorates from over forty universities, was a member of the leading artistic, academic and scientific academies, and held honorary professorships from many prestigious artistic universities.

The beginnings and the avant-garde

Krzysztof Penderecki was born in Dębica on 23 November 1933. He hailed from a multicultural family with Polish, German, and Armenian Roots. Associated with Kraków since 1951, he began to study composition under Franciszek Skołyszewski, who made a significant impact on the honing of the composing personality of the future author of the St Luke Passion, introducing him to the art of counterpoint and musical rhetoric. Penderecki continued his education at the Kraków State High School of Music (as of 1 January 2021: the Krzysztof Penderecki Academy of Music in Kraków) under Artur Malawski and Stanisław Wiechowicz. Despite the Iron Curtain that the communist authorities imposed to sever Poland from the free world, when Penderecki graduated from university in the late 1950s, he sought inspiration in the works of the classics of the 20th century (Bartok, Stravinsky), and later in the composing currents, styles and techniques of the West European avant-garde: serialism, punctualism, aleatoricism, and the new sound.


In April 1959, Krzysztof Penderecki made a spectacular composing début at the 2nd National Competition for Young Composers organised by the Union of Polish Composers (ZKP). Just shy of 26 at the time, the artist won the top three prizes for his Strophen, Emanations, and Psalms of David. This success opened the way into the world beyond the “Iron Curtain” to Penderecki. The performance of Strophes at the Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music vividly resounded throughout the musical world, especially in the realm of West German influence. The first foreign publication of Penderecki’s compositions (by H. Moeck-Verlag), took place in 1960, the year when Heinrich Strobl invited him to bring Anaklasis to the Donaueschingen Festival of contemporary music, the mecca of the avant-garde. Early in the 1960s Krzysztof Penderecki became the unquestioned leader of Polish avant-garde music as well as its most recognisable icon in the world. He began his creative path by experimenting with the sounds of instruments and human voices. The works composed at the time – Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, Anaklasis, Fonogrammi, Dimensions of Time and Silence, and De natura sonoris – opened previously unknown horizons of sound, laying the foundations for a new style which foreign critics associated with the Polish School of Composing, which is called sonorism in Poland. The works raised interest among figures of great eminence in the world of music, which resulted in commissions for a succession of works and foreign performances of the pieces already composed, and brought the young artist renown as one of the most ingenious composers, seeking innovative effects in sound and new ways of graphic notation. Penderecki quickly reinforced his image as a modern artist.

In 1961 his Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima was presented on world stages and received a prize from the International Rostrum of Composers in the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Considered one of the greatest and most important works of music of the time, the piece became a classic of avant-garde music. The late 1950s and early 1960s were also the period of the composer’s intensive activity connected with the Experimental Studio of Polish Radio in Warsaw (Psalmus, Brigade of Death, Aulodia, and Ekechejria). At the time he also composed music for several scores of animated, documentary and feature films, and for puppet and live drama theatres.

The St Luke Passion, and great vocal and instrumental forms

The St Luke Passion became the breakthrough piece in Penderecki’s oeuvre as it takes a particular place in the music of the 20th century. On the one hand, it is a thoroughly contemporary work, yet on the other it builds on the great tradition of sacred music in European culture. Penderecki reached for the form and text with examples that are epitomised in the passions of Bach. Penderecki’s Passion was written to a commission from Otto Tomek, the director of the music department at Westdeutscher Rundfunk in Cologne, to commemorate the 700th anniversary of Münster Cathedral. Its first performance on 30 March 1966 became an artistic event of global significance. At the time the music press from all over the world wrote extensively about the Pole, and the art and cultural traditions of the country he hailed from. The date of completing the piece in manuscript, 26 January 1966, has a further symbolic dimension, as it refers to the Jubilee of the Millennium of the Baptism of Poland that took place at a time when the communist authorities were persecuting the Catholic Church in the country. The monumental work had Penderecki enter history as the first composer of the former Eastern Bloc who dared to tackle sacred themes. In 1966 the artist was awarded the Grosser Kunstpreis des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen for his Passion.

Late in the 1960s Penderecki already showed himself to be an outstanding music dramatist, an image he reinforced further. Nearly immediately after the success of the Passion, Rolf Liebermann commissioned an opera from him, the first in the composer’s career. At a time when the avant-garde rejected the opera as a traditional stage genre, Penderecki proposed adapting Aldous Huxley’s novel The Devils of Loudun to the opera stage. The opera, ordered by Hamburg Opera, was first performed by the commissioning orchestra on 20 June 1969. Penderecki’s first opera proved a great success, and was soon staged by nearly 40 theatres in Europe and the US. In 2012 Penderecki returned to his score and revised it significantly: a new version of The Devils of Loudun was born.

Utrenya (The Morning Prayer) became another great work of Penderecki. It expresses the composer’s interest in the culture of orthodoxy. The first part of the composition, The Entombment of Christ, was performed in Altenberg Cathedral in 1970. The second part, Resurrection, premiered a year later in Münster Cathedral. In the same year, the Polish composer presented his Cosmogony for solo voices, mixed choir, and symphony orchestra in a concert held to commemorate 25 years of the United Nations at the headquarters of the organisation in New York. Penderecki’s oratorio was the result of a prestigious commission from the UN, and its première, conducted by Zubin Mehta was graced by the presence of presidents, members of royal families, and prime ministers. In the same year, the Pole also wrote De natura sonoris II for Zubin Mehta.

The year 1973 was the year Symphony No. 1 was composed, a work that wrapped up the period of avant-garde quests of the composer and the first piece in a genre that was about to take up an important place in his oeuvre. At that time Penderecki also composed Canticum Canticorum Salomonis and Magnificat for bass, vocal ensemble, two mixed choirs, a boys’ choir, and orchestra. Magnificat was written to commemorate 1200 years of Salzburg Cathedral, and premiered at Salzburg Festival in 1974 under the composer’s baton.

A Polish Requiem and the change of direction towards the late Romantic tradition

A change of direction in the work of Krzysztof Penderecki came in the latter half of the 1970s, with his style gradually gravitating towards the late Romantic tradition. The first work in this current was the Violin Concerto composed for Isaac Stern, a representative of the Russian romantic school. Its world première took place in Basel in April 1977. The following operatic work, Paradise Lost, had its world premiere at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on 29 November the following year. Regarded as sacra rappresentazione, the piece is based on the Old Testament story of original sin as described in John Milton’s epic poem. Completed seven years after his first symphony, Symphony No. 2 “Christmas Eve” had its world premiere under Zubin Mehta, to whom it was dedicated, in New York on 1 May 1980. Later, the conductor presented it at the festivals in Salzburg and Luzern, and during a tour of Europe. The symphony makes a comprehensive reference to the tradition of the late-19th-century symphonies of Bruckner, Mahler, and Shostakovich that combine with the sensitivity of a composer who had practised the avant-garde. The symphonies which followed had a similar inspiration: Symphony No. 4 “Adagio” written to the order of the French government to commemorate the bicentenary of the French Revolution in 1989 and dedicated to Lorin Maazel, Symphony No. 5 “Korean” dedicated to “listeners from the Far East” and completed in 1992, and Symphony No. 3 composed in 1988–95 to an order from the Munich Philharmonic.

Krzysztof Penderecki’s works from the 1980s illustrate the powerful tie between the artist and the history of his country. They refer to exceptional moments in the history of Poland, and the Polish religious and national ethos. One of these is the Te Deum for solo voices, choir, and orchestra written in 1979–80 and dedicated to the Holy Father John Paul II. The composer included here an extended quotation from the Boże coś Polskę / God Save Poland church hymn with the significant words Ojczyznę wolną racz nam zwrócić, Panie – “Deign to return a free homeland to us, O Lord”, whose expression of the desire for freedom turned it into the nation’s anthem whenever Poland lacked sovereignty. The version used by Penderecki carries a clear message concerning Poland under the Communist thrall and bolsters the hearts. Penderecki conducted the world premiere of Te Deum in Assisi in Italy in the summer of 1980. By the end of 1981, the piece had been performed in New York, Berlin, Warsaw, and Paris

In 1980, the composer embarked on A Polish Requiem. This link in Penderecki’s chain of cantata oratorio works, initiated by Passion, is among his most important pieces, and was certainly the one he took longest to write. The crystallisation of the complete piece in its full form took 26 years from the Lacrimosa composed at the request of Lech Wałęsa in 1980, via Agnus Dei written after the death of the Primate of the Millennium Stefan Wyszyński, Dies irae dedicated to the Warsaw Rising, Recordare – to Fr Maksymilian Kolbe, Libera me devoted to the victims of Katyń, and the closing Ciaconna in memoriam Giovanni Paolo II composed after the death of the Polish Pope in 2005. A Polish Requiem was first performed on 28 September 1984, and since its premiere the great choral piece has graced the posters of philharmonic halls all over the world.

The Song of the Cherubim, written in 1987 for the 60th birthday of Mstislav Rostropovich, is proof of the composer’s expression of his recognition of the extraordinary personality of his Russian friend – the cellist, and his interest in the culture of Orthodoxy.

The composition of Penderecki’s third opera, The Black Mask, came in the wake of an order from the Salzburg Festival in 1982. The composer entered a dialogue with 20th-century expressionist theatre to create a contemporary vision of the dance of death. His opera, based on a play by Gerhart Hauptmann, was the high point of the Salzburg Festival in 1986. Performances in Vienna and Santa Fe (US) followed in the summer of 1988. King Ubu, Penderecki’s fourth opera, was only completed in the summer of 1991, even though Penderecki already had plans for putting the play by Alfred Jarry to music in 1973. Krzysztof Penderecki’s only comic opera, it introduces the audience to the world of the grotesque in music with references to opera buffa. Its world premiere was held in the Munich Opera on 6 July 1991.

A time of synthesis: Credo and the symphonic oratory works

For Penderecki, the late 1990s was a time of synthesising previous experiences, especially well visible in the compositions influenced by the cantata oratorio tradition. Symphony No. 7 “Seven Gates of Jerusalem” is a monumental work in seven movements for five soloists, a narrator, three mixed choirs and a great symphony orchestra, written for the 3000th anniversary of Jerusalem. It premiered in that city on 9 January 1997. A year later, Penderecki completed Credo, a work of extreme importance for the music of the late 20th century and a reference to the universal character of the Christian articles of faith. It is also a piece that holds a special place in Polish music. Working on the lyrics, Penderecki referred to the Polish Roman Catholic tradition and drew from a Polish Lenten song Ludu, mój ludu / People, my People, and the supplicant song Któryś za nas cierpiał rany / Ye, whom we Made Suffer Wounds. Credo had its world premiere at the Bach Festival in Eugene, Oregon in July 1998. The European premiere was held in Kraków during the Krzysztof Penderecki Festival on 5 October 1998. A year later, the recording of Credo on the Hänssler label received the prestigious AFIM Indie Award.

In the year 1997 he composed two hymns to honour cities: they are Hymn to St Daniil for mixed choir and orchestra for Moscow’s 850th anniversary and Hymn to St Adalbert for mixed choir and orchestra for the celebration of Gdańsk’s millennium. The former belongs to Penderecki’s works set in the culture of Orthodoxy, while the latter belongs to the realm of Slavic culture. Despite the similarities in the performing force and the one-off character of both, there is a distinctive cultural difference between them. The world premiere of the Hymn to St Daniil took place in Moscow on 4 October 1997, and that of the Hymn to St Adalbert took place just two weeks later in Gdańsk.

Chamber music returned in the 1990s to gain an important place among the works of Penderecki. That was the time of the Quartet for Clarinet and String Trio (1993), the Violin Sonata No. 2 (1999), and Sextet in which the composer combined strings, wind instruments, and piano to obtain a broad palette of colourist potential. The world premiere of the Sextet at the Musikverein in Vienna on 7 June 2000 was performed by Mstislav Rostropovich, Yuri Bashmet, Dmitri Alexeev, Paul Meyer, Julian Rachlin, and Radovan Vlatković.

The vocal and instrumental Symphony No. 8 “Songs of Transience” is the expression of admiration for the beauty of nature and a reflection on the impermanence of human life. A cycle of 12 songs to the lyrics of German poets inspired by late romantic songs with orchestra, it was written to a commission from the government of Luxembourg for the opening of the Josephine Charlotte Philharmonic Hall, where it premiered on 6 June 2005.

Completed in 2008, the String Quartet No. 3 Leaves from an Unwritten Diary presents an entirely different sonic language than the one the composer used for his first string quartets written in the 1960s. The sonoristic experimentation with strings was supplanted by traditional means harking back to the tradition of the genre. The world premiere of the piece was performed by the Shanghai Quartet in November 2008 during a festival organised for the composer’s 75th birthday. In 2012, the Münchener Kammerorchester presented an arrangement of the String Quartet No. 3 for a string orchestra dedicated to Peter Hanser-Strecker, President of Schott Music.

Kaddish, completed in 2009, is another piece in which Penderecki tackled the tragic subject of the Holocaust. Coming after Brigade of Death, and the Auschwitz oratorio Dies irae, the work was written to commemorate the 65th Anniversary of the Liquidation of the Litzmanstadt (Łódź) Ghetto and was dedicated to “all Łódź Abrameks who Desired to Live. To Poles who saved Jews”. The text of the prayer brings together a selection of texts from the Book of Daniel, Book of Lamentations, and the heart-rending poems written by Abram Cytryn in the Łódź Ghetto. Kaddish was first performed on 29 July 2009 in Łódź.

In 2010, the composer reached for the works of the poets of Young Poland as well as Adam Mickiewicz, C.K. Norwid, and Zbigniew Herbert, composing a song cycle entitled A Sea of Dreams Did Breathe on Me… Songs of Reverie and Nostalgia evoked by the bicentennial of Chopin’s birth. Penderecki’s intention was as much a commemoration of the particular significance of the Chopin Year as a homage to the entire corpus of great Polish poetry. The work had its world premiere under Valery Gergiev in Warsaw on 14 January 2011.

The Missa brevis, completed late in 2012, is the only multi-movement work among the plethora of music Penderecki wrote for a cappella choir. It was composed for the Bach Archive in Leipzig to commemorate the 800th jubilee of the St Thomas Church and Choir in Leipzig, where its world premiere was held in January 2013. A year later Penderecki composed Dies illa, continuing the chain of grand oratorio works. With the performing force of three soloists, three choirs, and a symphony orchestra, the piece was composed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War and is dedicated to its victims. The world premiere was held at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Brussels on 9 November 2014 at the closing concert of the 1000 Voices for Peace. The recording of the composition brought the artist another Grammy Award in 2017.

Written in 2015 in observance of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Holocaust, Psalm Domine quid multiplicati sunt is Penderecki’s other a cappella choral work. It was first performed at the Carnegie Hall on 26 May by the Hover State Chamber Choir from Armenia. The Polonaise for symphony orchestra that Penderecki wrote in 2015 to a commission from the Polish Fryderyk Chopin Institute to enhance the inauguration of the 17th Chopin Competition is, as the composer described it, a particular tone poem on the theme of Polish dance.

Penderecki’s last work in the symphonic cycle is the Symphony No. 6 “Chinese songs” completed in 2016. Written for baritone, orchestra and erhu – a Chinese folk instrument, the symphony is chronologically the composer’s eighth. It had its world premiere in the Chinese city of Guangzhou on 24 September 2017, and its European one in the Dresden Philharmonic on 12 May 2018.

Lacrimosa No. 2 for soprano, women’s choir and chamber orchestra, written for the unveiling of the Monument to Victims of Pomeranian Atrocities in Toruń in 1939, premiered in Toruń on 6 October 2018.

The 100th anniversary of Poland’s regained independence observed in 2018 was the reason to compose the Polonaise commissioned by the Polish Chopin Institute and the Fanfare for the Independent Poland that resounded on the anniversary day, 11 November 2018, in 11 prestigious concert halls of the world and on 11 concert stages in Poland.


Dedications and commissions

The stream of concertante works intended for outstanding instrumentalists was constant and extremely important among the creations of Krzysztof Penderecki. In the 1960s, at the outset of his composing career, Penderecki wrote Capriccio for oboe for Heinz Holliger, and Sonata for cello and orchestra, Cello Concerto No. 1, and Capriccio per Siegfried Palm for Siegfried Palm. The stream continued with Partita for harpsichord (1971) written for Felicja Blumental, Violin Concerto No. 1 (1977) composed for Isaac Stern in 1977, and Capriccio for tuba (1980) dedicated to Zdzisław Piernik.

The Cello Concerto No. 2 from 1982 opened a series of works written for Mstislav Rostropovich, a cellist of world renown and the composer’s close friend. In 1988 Penderecki was awarded a Grammy for Best Contemporary Composition for his Cello Concerto No. 2 as composer and conductor. Other pieces he dedicated to the famous cellist include Per Slava (1986), and Largo for cello and orchestra (2003). Penderecki wrote his Flute Concerto (1992) with Jean-Pierre Rampal in mind, and composed an array of pieces for the outstanding violinist Anne Sophie Mutter: Violin Concerto No. 2 Metamorphosen (1995), for which he was awarded another Grammy in 1998, Violin Sonata No. 2 (1999), and La Folia (2013). In 2010 they were followed by Duo concertante for violin and double bass for Anne Sophie Mutter and Roman Patkoló. An expression of friendship and recognition of Grigory Zhyslin came in the form of Cadenza for viola (1984), written especially for him. In turn, his Sarabande for viola was written for the excellent Russian violist, Yuri Bashmet, in 2006: the year in which Penderecki completed Divertimento for cello dedicated to the memory of Boris Pergamenschikow. The Horn concerto Winterreise (2008) was composed with Radovan Vlatković in mind, and his Concerto doppio for violin and viola (2012) was intended for the eminent violist Julian Rachlin. Concertino for trumpet and orchestra (2015) is a piece written for the trumpet virtuoso Gabor Boldoczki.

The prestigious commissions from all over the world, many of them connected to important anniversaries, were characteristic of Penderecki’s oeuvre. The deep humanism of the composer, who was far from indifferent to human fate, was repeatedly manifested in his works by references to important moments in history: the tragedy of the Nazi death camp in Auschwitz – oratorio Dies irae, the Katyn Massacre – Libera me from A Polish Requiem, heroes of the Warsaw ghetto – Quid sum miser from A Polish Requiem, heroes of the Warsaw Uprising – Dies irae from A Polish Requiem, the election of Karol Wojtyła as Pope John Paul II – Te Deum, the rise of Solidarity and the fall of communism – Lacrimosa from A Polish Requiem, the Millennium of Christianity in Poland – Passion, the United States Bicentennial – Paradise Lost, Bicentennial of the issuing of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in France – Symphony No. 4 “Adagio”, the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War – Dies illa, the centenary of the Armenian Holocaust – Psalm Domine quid multiplicati sunt, the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Korea – Symphony No. 5, and the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the United Nations – Cosmogony. The list is complemented by the works Penderecki wrote for major jubilees: 700 years of Münster Cathedral – St Luke Passion, 1200 years of Salzburg Cathedral – Magnificat, 600 years of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków – Cantata in honorem Almae Matris Universitatis Iagellonicae sescentos abhinc annos fundatae, the three millennia of the city of Jerusalem – Symphony No. 7 “Seven Gates of Jerusalem”, 850 years of Moscow – Hymn to St Daniil, and Gdańsk millennium – Hymn to St Adalbert.


Conducting and academic activity

For many years, Krzysztof Penderecki was recognised for his active teaching career. It started with the composition class at the Kraków State High School of Music (as of 1 January 2021: the Krzysztof Penderecki Academy of Music in Kraków) in 1958–66. Later he was professor at the Folkwang-Hochschule für Musik in Essen (1966–68) and at Yale University in New Haven (1973–78). In 1968–70 the composer held a scholarship from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst in Berlin. A long-time director of the Academy of Music in Kraków (1972–87), Penderecki was later invited to stand at the helm of the Kraków Philharmonic.

Penderecki made his conducting début with his Anaklasis on 17 October 1971 at Donaueschingen. Since then he has been a very active conductor, leading several dozen concerts of his own music as well as symphonic works of composers from various periods every year. A proof of Penderecki’s rank as a composer could be the performances of his works by prime orchestra ensembles around the world, often under his baton. They include Berliner Philharmoniker, Boston Symphony Orchestra, China National Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonie Orchester, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Münchner Philharmoniker, New York Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, ORF Radio Symphonie Orchester Wien, Südwestfunk-Orchester Baden-Baden, Wiener Philharmoniker, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice, Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Kraków Philharmonic Orchestra, and Sinfonia Varsovia.

The quest for thought-provoking qualities of sound to express specific musical thoughts and the development of a specific aura of sound made a clear mark throughout Penderecki’s oeuvre. In the avant-garde Fluorescences, the composer introduced a typewriter and an alarm siren, a rattler in Utrenya, and an ocarina in The Awakening of Jacob and Paradise Lost, tubaphones of his own invention in Symphony No. 7 “Seven Gates of Jerusalem”, while he introduced the erhu, a Chinese folk instrument, to develop the Oriental climate of the Symphony No. 6 “Chinese Songs”.

Moreover, Krzysztof Penderecki was the honorary patron of competitions, festivals and other artistic events held all over the world, most importantly: the Krzysztof Penderecki Festival in Armenia held in Yerevan, the Krzysztof Penderecki International Festival – Level 320 in Zabrze, the Krzysztof Penderecki Composing Competition held as part of Sopot Classic International Festival of Music, and the Certamen Compositorum Internationale ARBORETUM: Krzysztof Penderecki International Composers’ competition in Radom.

Arboretum – Hortus conclusus

The music of Krzysztof Penderecki is certainly among the most impressive achievements in Polish and world culture. The Maestro’s love of the beauty of nature and looking up to it for inspiration had an undeniable impact on his music. He was a great lover of trees, the architect of the park complex in Lusławice, and the teacher and mind behind the establishment of the European Centre for Music – an international campus opened for young artists.

“Actually, it’s not life that is important but works that provide a turning point” the composer used to say. Penderecki’s beloved Lusławice was certainly such a point in his life. The place made him be remembered in history not only as a genius of music, a conductor and a teacher, but also as a visionary architect. Lover of trees. Maestro. A man of culture and nature.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Lusławice was home to the Polish Brethren, and in the two decades between the two world wars – to an eminent Polish painter, Jacek Malczewski. In 1975 Krzysztof Penderecki entered the history of the place, and made his lasting contribution by composing an exceptional work of botany here: a spacious park. The creation of the Arboretum took over 40 years, making it the artist’s longest composition in the time it took to develop, the work of his life, the symbolic Ninth Symphony.

Standing here surrounded by the composer’s beloved trees is a renovated 18th-century manor house with a historic lamus building and the symbolic grave of Faustus Socinus. It is here in Lusławice that one of the greatest dreams of the artist became flesh: the European Centre for Music. Together with the amazing Arboretum, the institution is a particular closing of the cycle of eight symphonies in the catalogue of the composer’s work. This work goes on.

In the space of over 60 years, the composer produced over 160 pieces of music for different performing forces, of different lengths and using different composing techniques, genres and forms. The artist’s oeuvre comprises over 20 chamber pieces, 18 solo compositions, 25 concert works, 27 orchestral pieces, 8 symphonies, 21 songs and choir works, 27 cantata and oratorio works, and 4 operas. Besides these, Krzysztof Penderecki wrote over 120 compositions for animated films, puppet, live drama and televised theatres, and also for feature and documentary films.

The composer died in his home, surrounded by his closest family, on 29 March 2020, the eve of the 54th anniversary of the world premiere of Passion, the work that started his exceptional career. He left behind the magnificent arboretum, the beloved trees, and the European Centre for Music of his dreams, as well as outstanding music that is an artistic testimony to contemporary times, while its symbolic messages define Krzysztof Penderecki’s position as that of a contemporary artist who incessantly sought to illuminate the truth about human nature and the world.

Krzysztof Penderecki’s Lusławice

The footage above comes from Krzysztof Penderecki – Heritage of Polish 19th and 20th-Century Music at the Krzysztof Penderecki European Centre for Music in Lusławice. The permanent exhibition was opened in person by the composer on his 86th birthday, and completed his opus magnum. The arcadia Krzysztof Penderecki created in the Lusławice park was his sanctuary: a place where he felt truly at home. As he used to say, “I can stay anywhere, but Lusławice is the only place where I live.”

Biographic note of Jadwiga Kania based on the materials from
the Krzysztof Penderecki European Centre for Music

© 2020, Krzysztof Penderecki European Centre for Music