A Polish composer and conductor born November 23, 1933 in Debica, died March 29, 2020 in Krakow.
A violinist and pianist by training, Krzysztof Penderecki studied composition at the Krakow Music Academy (1954-1958) notably with Artur Malawski and Stanislaw Wiechowicz. He rapidly acquired international fame with his first works in the serial vein (Strophen, 1959 ; Anaklasis, 1960).
With his work on chromaticism, clusters and glissandos, he developed a radically original style, highly coloured, especially for stringed instruments, as in Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima (1960), String Quartet no 1 (1960), Kanon (1962). Krzysztof Penderecki also composed many works of religious inspiration, marking a return to a certain tonality (Stabat Mater, 1962; Passion according to Saint Luke, 1966; Magnificat, 1973 and his emblematic Polish Requiem, 1984). Abandoning clusters, he developed his style in the direction of post-romantic simplicity (Paradise Lost, 1978; Violin Concerto, 1977; Symphony no 2, 1980) and continued his research into tone-colour, the infinite palette of sound colours (De natura sonoris no 3, 2012; La Follia, 2013). Penderecki’s celebrity also grew through his operas (The Devils of Loudun, 1969; Ubu Rex, 1991). The composer also distinguished himself in the seventh art, his highly expressive writing constituting a favourite material for many directors, such as Kubrick and Scorsese, but also Alain Resnais.
In 2019, he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the World Soundtrack Awards of the Film Fest Gent.
After having taught, notably at Yale, while maintaining his conducting career, Krzysztof Penderecki was rewarded with honorary professorships from many universities and conservatories around the world.