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Krzysztof Penderecki

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Krzysztof Penderecki (born November 23, 1933 in Dębica) is a Polish composer and conductor. His 1960 avant-garde Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima for string orchestra brought him to international attention, and this success was followed by acclaim for his choral St. Luke Passion. Both these works exhibit novel compositional techniques. Since the 1970s Penderecki’s style has changed to encompass a post-Romantic idiom.

He has won prestigious awards including Grammy Awards in 1987 and 1998 and 2001, and the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition in 1992.

As well as the works already mentioned, his compositions include four operas, eight symphonies and other orchestral pieces, a variety of instrumental concertos, choral settings of mainly religious texts, as well as chamber and instrumental works.

After taking private composition lessons with Franciszek Skolyszewski, Penderecki studied music at Jagiellonian University and the Academy of Music in Kraków under Artur Malawski and Stanislaw Wiechowicz. Having graduated in 1958, he took up a teaching post at the Academy. Penderecki’s early works show the influence of Anton Webern and Pierre Boulez (he has also been influenced by Igor Stravinsky). Penderecki’s international recognition began in 1959 at the Warsaw Autumn with the premieres of the works Strophen, Psalms of David, and Emanations, but the piece that truly brought him to international attention was Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima (see threnody and atomic bombing of Hiroshima), written for 52 string instruments.

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