Seasons Of Panufnik

Lady Camilla Panufnik in front of a portrait of her late husband in their family home in Twickenham

Already in full swing, the 2014 Panufnik Centenary celebrations are moving into festival mode for the summer, then leading towards the birthday month of September and the autumn season. Performances in the Americas will continue the tradition of American orchestras playing a prominent role in the history of works by Andrzej Panufnik: his Sinfonia Elegiaca was first performed in 1957 by the Houston Symphony under Leopold Stokowski and his Sinfonia Votiva received its first performance in 1982 by the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa. Other orchestral works premiered in America include Harmony, Katyn Epitaph, Symphony No. 10, Arbor Cosmica, and the Bassoon Concerto. In 2014, the Chicago Symphony and Riccardo Muti opens its season with Concerto in Modo Antico (October 2), and the St. Louis Symphony and John Storgårds perform Landscape (October 24). As a part of the Paderewski Lecture-Recital series in Los Angeles, the Polish Music Center at the University of Southern California will feature Panufnik’s widow, Lady Camilla (pictured at left), in a talk on her late husband’s life and music, and a chamber concert with mezzo-soprano Juliana Gondek, the Eclipse Quartet, and pianists James Lent and Nic Gerpe will follow the lecture (October 5). then four days later the Thornton Symphony Orchestra will perform Panufnik’s Tragic Overture and Harmony at USC (October 9). Later in the fall in Brazil, the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Stanislaw Skrowaczewski will perform Tragic Overture (November 6).

Events in the UK also continue apace. Orchestral performances this summer include Kirill Karabits conducting Heroic Overture with the Bournemouth Symphony, part of a Panufnik feature at the Cheltenham Festival (July 2, 9), and Sinfonia Elegiaca at the Edinburgh Festival with the young players of the I, Culture Orchestra (August 17). The Presteigne Festival includes six Panufnik works including Sinfonia Concertante and Landscape (August 22). Panufnik’s birthday on September 24 brings a special centenary concert by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, which in 1957 offered the émigré composer his first conductorship after his dramatic escape to the West. The program includes the Piano Concerto that Panufnik premiered with the orchestra, here with Peter Donohoe as soloist, and Sinfonia Elegiaca which received its UK premiere with the CBSO under his baton. The birthday also marks the launch of a major conference in Warsaw about the composer’s music led by his biographer, Beata Bolesławska-Lewandowska. Then on November 30, Kings Place presents the Panufnik 100: A Family Celebration. This festival is a day of chamber music, films and talks, including all three quartets performed by the Brodsky Quartet, concluding with a Warsaw Cabaret.

The largest Polish celebration featuring 16 of his works will be held at the International ‘Chopin & His Europe’ Festival in Warsaw. The highlight of the Festival is an all-Panufnik program including his Symphony No. 10, Violin Concerto and Arbor Cosmica with Sinfonia Varsovia and Jerzy Maksymiuk (August 27). Autumn events in Poland continue with the London Symphony Orchestra and pianist Piotr Anderszewski under Maestro Antonio Pappano performing Symphony No. 10 within the opening celebrations for the new NOSPR concert hall in Katowice (October 18), repeated the following day at the Barbican in London. Kraków plays host to three days of concerts and a conference led by Ewa Siemdaj (October 23-26), and chamber events run throughout the autumn around the country presented by the Institute of Music and Dance.

In terms of recordings the Panufnik centenary has seen the completion of CPO’s major survey of the composer’s symphonies and concertos conducted by Łukasz Borowicz, and a historic recording of the Bassoon Concerto conducted by the composer on the Heritage label. New discs of chamber music and songs are on the Chandos, Naxos, BIS and Signum labels (see details in the next article below). Books in preparation include an English translation of Beata Bolesławska-Lewandowska’s Panufnik biography from Ashgate Publishing and Panufnik’s autobiography Composing Myself translated into Polish (Panufnik o sobie) from Marginesy and in a new English edition supplemented by Panufnik’s other writings on music from Toccata Press.

For a full listing of centenary events visit or

[Sources: press release, Photo: Marek Zebrowski]