Krzysztof Penderecki

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Penderecki, Krzysztof

(kshĭsh`tôf pändĕrĕts`kē), 1933–2020, Polish composer. His music is characterized by unusual sonorities, and he devised his own system of notation to convey the effects he desired. His early works were in the avant-garde tradition, but after decades in which he produced a large body of works, he turned toward a distinctive kind of neo-romanticism. Penderecki's works include several symphonies, the Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima (1960), a concerto for five-stringed violin (1967–68), operas including The Devils of Loudun (1969), Utrenja [morning prayer] (1970), the St. Luke Passion (1963–66), the choral Seventh Symphony (Seven Gates of Jerusalem, 1996), and the choral Polish Requiem (first written 1980s, expanded 1993, 2005). He is also known for his modernist film scores for William Friedkin's The Exorcist (1973), Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980), and David Lynch's Wild at Heart (1990), and his music has influenced a number of rock musicians. From 1972 to 1987 he was rector of the Kraków conservatory, and he long served as conductor of the Kraków Symphony.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Penderecki, Krzysztof


Born Nov. 23, 1933, in Deębica. Polish composer and leading representative of the Polish avant-garde.

Penderecki teaches composition at the State Higher School of Music in Kraków, where he has been principal since 1972, and at the conservatory in Essen (Federal Republic of Germany). He experiments in sound coloring. His quest for nonmusical means of expressiveness has led him to attach great importance to rhythmic declamation; his work with “speaking choruses” emphasizes articulation, dynamics, and timbres. Penderecki makes use of sound effects and stresses percussion, especially in jazz compositions. In 1959 he began composing religious music that is tinged with “Catholic humanism” and draws upon elements of Gregorian chant. His compositions include The Psalms of David (for mixed choir and percussion; 1958), Anaklasis (for percussion and strings; 1960), Canon (for orchestra and tape recorder; 1962), The Passion According to St. Luke (1966), The Devils of Loudun (based on A. Huxley’s work; 1969), The Eighth Eclogue of Horace (for vocal ensemble; 1972), and music for films and the dramatic theater.


Lisicki, K. Szkice o Krzysztofie Pendereckim. Warsaw, 1973.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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