We are sad to report that Krzysztof Penderecki, the great Polish composer and conductor, died on 29 March 2020.
His achievements for global culture cannot be overstated, and he will be sorely missed by Kraków, the city he made his home for over sixty years. He was one of the best known Poles around the world. The Kraków Festival Office would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the Maestro’s family.
Krzysztof Penderecki was born in 1933 in Dębica, and he lived in Kraków since 1951. He was the composer of highly original music in which he reached for unique annotations and techniques; some of his best-known works include Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, Polymorphia and Fluorescences. His 1966 work The St. Luke Passion in 1966 earned him acclaim all over the globe. His compositions of the 1970s and 1980s, including Te Deum and the Polish Requiem, became symbols of artistic freedom.
He was the holder of myriad awards and prizes both at home and abroad, including Grammy Awards in 1988, 1999, 2013 and 2017. He held honorary doctorates from dozens of universities and art schools, and he was an honorary member of many artistic and academic institutions. He was also awarded many honours in Poland and abroad, including the Order of the White Eagle. He took up the conductor’s baton in the 1970s and directed leading symphonic orchestras in Europe and the US.
He composed over 150 works, including 20 chamber pieces, 18 solo pieces, 25 concertos, 27 orchestral compositions, seven symphonies, 21 songs and choral works, 25 cantatas and oratorios, and four operas. His music has been used in over 120 productions such as stage, puppetry and television theatre, animated and feature films and documentaries. Penderecki was also the founder of the European Centre for Music in Lusławice – an international hub for young artists.
In recent years, he was the guest of honour at acclaimed festivals in Kraków such as Sacrum Profanum, the Film Music Festival and the Misteria Paschalia festival of early music. Commemorating the composer’s 85th birthday, in 2018 Jacek Majchrowski, Mayor of the City of Kraków, named the main hall of the ICE Kraków Congress Centre the Krzysztof Penderecki Auditorium.
Maestro, thank You!