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‘His music could be heard from Japan to the US’: World-renowned composer Krzysztof Penderecki dies at 86

30 Mar 2020
Krzysztof Penderecki, an outstanding composer and conductor of the 20th century, died at the age of 86 after a long illness.
Krzysztof Penderecki, an outstanding composer and conductor of the 20th century, died at the age of 86 after a long illness.
Krzysztof Penderecki, an outstanding composer and conductor of the 20th century, died at the age of 86 after a long illness.
Krzysztof Penderecki, an outstanding composer and conductor of the 20th century, died at the age of 86 after a long illness.
Krzysztof Penderecki, an outstanding composer and conductor of the 20th century, died at the age of 86 after a long illness.
Krzysztof Penderecki, an outstanding composer and conductor of the 20th century, died at the age of 86 after a long illness.
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Updated 30 Mar 2020
30 Mar 2020

Alexander Woodman

Krzysztof Penderecki, an outstanding composer and conductor of the 20th century, died at the age of 86 after a long illness. During his lifetime Krzysztof Penderecki has created over 150 orchestral pieces, instrumental concertos, four operas, and eight symphonies. The sounds created by Penderecki have been played in Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Australia for over a half-century.

Beginning in 1960, Krzysztof Penderecki discovered his new passion for avant-garde music. Starting from experiments with the human voice and instrumental music, Krzysztof Penderecki became the unchallenged leader and icon of Polish avant-garde music of the 20th century. The Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, which was treasured by UNESCO’s International Rostrum of Composers, opened a new page in the history of Polish composing school and avant-garde music. The Threnody was recognized as one of the greatest and most important musical creations of the time.

During his last interview with me, where famous Polish designer Gosia Baczyńska was present Penderecki said “Hiroshima was a symbol, and I truly believed that I had to write a piece about the victims of the tragedy. So, I wrote Threnody.”

In 1999, Krzysztof Penderecki was invited to Japan by Japan Philharmonic Orchestra for the “Penderecki Festival.” In 2003, the great composer visited Japan as a resident composer for the Pacific Music Festival. In 2004, Krzysztof Penderecki was awarded World Culture Prize in Memory of His Highness Prince Takamatsu, an international art prize awarded by the Imperial family of Japan on behalf of the Japan Art Association for “outstanding contributions to the development, promotion, and progress of the arts.”

The Minister of Culture of Poland, Piotr Gliński, wrote: “Polish culture has suffered a great and irreparable loss today. Maestro Krzysztof Penderecki, the greatest Polish contemporary composer, whose music could be heard from Japan to the United States.”

The great composer, together with his wife Elżbieta Penderecka, has built a massive collection of unforgettable music for the next generation at Krzysztof Penderecki European Center for Music, a theatrical center for young musicians from all over the world. His collection will give children all over the world an opportunity to learn from his music and grow in their talent and commitment to the arts.

When talking about the value of art and value of music, Krzysztof Penderecki reasoned, “I have always believed that it is most important for a musical creation to survive the author. To me, it is paramount above all else.”

Alexander Woodman is an author based in the Gulf. His research interest includes global health, international health policy development, transnational and transcultural health politics, ethics as well as diplomacy. alexwoodman.ucla@gmail.com Instagram @thelandofadat

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