32 Facts About Krzysztof Penderecki


Krzysztof Eugeniusz Penderecki was a Polish composer and conductor.


Krzysztof Penderecki's best known works include Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, Symphony No 3, his St Luke Passion, Polish Requiem, Anaklasis and Utrenja.


Krzysztof Penderecki won many prestigious awards, including the Prix Italia in 1967 and 1968; the Wihuri Sibelius Prize of 1983; four Grammy Awards in 1987,1998, and 2017; the Wolf Prize in Arts in 1987; and the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition in 1992.


Krzysztof Penderecki was born on 23 November 1933 in Debica, the son of Zofia and Tadeusz Krzysztof Penderecki, a lawyer.


Krzysztof Penderecki's grandfather, Robert Berger, was a highly talented painter and director of the local bank at the time of Krzysztof Penderecki's birth; Robert's father Johann, a German Protestant, moved to Debica from Breslau in the mid-19th century.


Krzysztof Penderecki's grandmother Stefania was an Armenian from Stanislau in Austria-Hungary.


Krzysztof Penderecki used to go to the Armenian Church in Krakow with her.


Krzysztof Penderecki was the youngest of three siblings; his sister, Barbara, was married to a mining engineer, and his older brother, Janusz, was studying law and medicine at the time of his birth.


In 1939, the Second World War broke out, and Krzysztof Penderecki's family moved out of their apartment, as the Ministry of Food was to operate there.


In 1954, Krzysztof Penderecki entered the Academy of Music in Krakow and, having finished his studies on violin after his first year, focused entirely on composition.


Krzysztof Penderecki makes use of serialism in this piece, and one of the tone rows he uses includes the BACH motif, which acts as a bridge between the conventional and more experimental elements.


Towards the end of the decade, Krzysztof Penderecki received a commission to write for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.


Krzysztof Penderecki explained this shift by stating that he had come to feel that the experimentation of the avant-garde had gone too far from the expressive, non-formal qualities of Western music: 'The avant-garde gave one an illusion of universalism.


Krzysztof Penderecki concluded that he was 'saved from the avant-garde snare of formalism by a return to tradition'.


The music continued to illustrate Krzysztof Penderecki's move away from avant-garde techniques: it is tonal music and the composer explained: 'This is not music by the angry young man I used to be'.


In 1980, Krzysztof Penderecki was commissioned by Solidarity to compose a piece to accompany the unveiling of a statue at the Gdansk shipyards to commemorate those killed in anti-government riots there in 1970.


Krzysztof Penderecki responded with Lacrimosa, which he later expanded into one of the best-known works of his later period, the Polish Requiem.


Krzysztof Penderecki conducted the Credo on the occasion of the 70th birthday of Helmuth Rilling, 29 May 2003.


Krzysztof Penderecki received an honorary doctorate from the Seoul National University, Korea, in 2005 and the University of Munster, Germany, in 2006.


Krzysztof Penderecki had three children, first a daughter Beata with pianist Barbara Penderecka, whom he married in 1954.


Krzysztof Penderecki lived in the Krakow suburb of Wola Justowska.


Krzysztof Penderecki died after a long illness in his home in Krakow, Poland, on 29 March 2020.


Krzysztof Penderecki was buried at the National Pantheon in Krakow on 29 March 2022.


In 1979, a bronze bust by artist Marian Konieczny honouring Krzysztof Penderecki was unveiled in The Gallery of Composers' Portraits at the Pomeranian Philharmonic in Bydgoszcz.


Krzysztof Penderecki's monument is located on the Celebrity Alley at the Scout Square in Kielce.


Krzysztof Penderecki credited Greenwood for introducing his music to a new generation.


Krzysztof Penderecki's compositions include operas, symphonies, choral works, as well as chamber and instrumental music.


Krzysztof Penderecki composed between 1959 and 1968 original music for at least eleven documentary and feature films as well as for twenty-five animated films for adults and children.


Some of Krzysztof Penderecki's music has been adapted for film soundtracks.


Krzysztof Penderecki composed music for Andrzej Wajda's 2007 Academy Award nominated film Katyn, while Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island featured his Symphony No 3 and Fluorescences.


Some of Krzysztof Penderecki's oeuvre inspired Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead to release an album, which thereafter appeared in his score for There Will Be Blood, a 2007 Paul Thomas Anderson film.


Krzysztof Penderecki was an honorary member of the following academies and music companies: Royal Academy of Music, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Royal Swedish Academy of Music, Academy of Arts, Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes, the Society of Friends of Music in Vienna, Academy of Arts in Berlin, Academie Internationale de Philosophie et de l'Art in Bern, and the Academie Nationale des Sciences, Belles-lettres et Arts in Bordeaux.