2001 Honorary Fellow
Born in 1933 in the small Polish town of Debica, Krzysztof Penderecki is one of the most brilliant and innovative composers of our time. He started to play the violin at an early age and later entered the Cracow Conservatory. Soon after his graduation in 1958, he achieved his international reputation by winning all top three prizes at the 1959 Polish National Young Composers Competition.
His best known early composition, Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima, put him at the forefront of the avant-garde, combining a highly experimental and expressionistic use of sound with a radical humanistic message. This unique piece not only won him an UNESCO prize in 1993, but also became one of his most frequently performed compositions. Another major composition, the St. Luke’s Passion written in 1966, marked the turning point of his career, making him the most acclaimed composer since Igor Stravinsky.
He also established his reputation as a musical dramatist with his operas the Devils of Loudun (1969), Paradise Lost (1978), The Black Mask (1986) and Ubu Rex (1990).
In 1972 Penderecki began his conducting career. Since then he has been seen on the podiums of the most important orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic as well as orchestras in France, England, Italy, Austria, Sweden and Switzerland. His American appearances have included performances with the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra among others.
Over the decade that followed, Penderecki continued to extend his creativity with amazing energy, producing numerous award-winning compositions including large scale symphonic, choral, liturgical and chamber works. Among the numerous awards and prizes Penderecki has won are the Prix Italia, the Sibelius Prize, three Grammy Awards and The Best Living Composer Award in Cannes.
From 1992 he has been the artistic director of the Casals Festival in San Juan, Puerto Rico and is artistic advisor to the Beijing Music Festival. In 2000, he was Visiting Artist of the School. of Music of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.