PCINY presents ‘Krzysztof Penderecki in Memoriam Worldwide’

Throughout the spring of 2021, the Polish Cultural Institute New York (PCINY) will curate “Krzysztof Penderecki in Memoriam,” honoring the life and legacy of Poland’s greatest modern composer. Leading up to and beyond 29 March 2021, marking the one-year anniversary of Krzysztof Penderecki’s death, the Polish Cultural Institute New York—in partnership with the Ludwig van Beethoven Association, Crossover Media, DUX Records, Lincoln Center, Naxos of America, and Schott Music publishers—will celebrate Penderecki’s life and legacy across an array of worldwide media outlets and concert venues.
PCINY’s head of music programming, Anna Perzanowska, who worked with Maestro Penderecki for over a decade, has been the driving force behind ‘Krzysztof Penderecki in Memoriam’ since the composer’s death on March 29, 2020, at his home in Kraków, Poland. “The passing of Professor Penderecki was a deeply moving loss and a shock to all who knew him personally as well as to those who admired his work. The loss was especially poignant due to the world’s Covid-19 isolation – and I was overwhelmed by the response and eagerness of all the artists who wanted to be involved and honor his memory,” comments Perzanowska.

Event Highlights

About Krzysztof Penderecki

Krzysztof Penderecki’s (born November 23, 1933 in Dębica, Poland—died March 29, 2020 in Kraków, Poland) novel and masterful treatment of orchestration earned worldwide acclaim. Penderecki first drew attention in 1959 at the third Warsaw Festival of Contemporary Music, where his Strophes for soprano, speaker, and 10 instruments was performed. The following year was marked by the performances of both Anaklasis and the Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima for 52 strings. Threnody illustrates Penderecki’s skilled and refined treatment of instruments, making use of quarter-tone clusters (close groupings of notes a quarter step apart), glissandi (slides), whistling harmonics (faint, eerie tones produced by partial string vibrations), and other extraordinary effects. The techniques used in Threnody were extended to his vocal work Dimensions in Time (1961) and his operas The Devils of Loudun (1968) and Paradise Lost (1978).

Penderecki’s Psalms of David (1958) and Stabat Mater (1962) reflect a simple, linear trend (letting interwoven melodic lines predominate and determine harmonies) in his composition. The Stabat Mater combines traditional and experimental elements and led to his other well-known masterpiece, the St. Luke Passion (1963–66). In form, the latter work resembles a Baroque passion, such as those by Johann Sebastian Bach, and Penderecki makes use of traditional forms such as the passacaglia (a variation form), a chantlike freedom of meter, and a 12-tone row (ordering of the 12 notes of the chromatic scale) based on the motif B♭-A-C-B (in German notation, B-A-C-H) in homage to Bach.

Penderecki’s Canon for 52 strings (1962) made use of polyphonic techniques (based on interwoven melodies) known to Renaissance composers. Yet he also made some use of the techniques of aleatory (chance) music, percussive vocal articulation, nontraditional musical notation, and other devices that stamped him as a leader of the European avant-garde. His later works include the two-part Utrenja [Morning Prayer] (1969–71), Magnificat (1973–74), Polish Requiem (1980–2005), Cello Concerto No. 2 (1982) which won a Grammy Award in 1998, the opera Ubu Rex (1990–91), and the choral work Phaedra (2002).

In addition to composing steadily, Penderecki taught composition and conducting. His collected essays, an interview, and other writings were published in Labyrinth of Time: Five Addresses for the End of the Millennium (1998). In 2004 he received the Japan Art Association’s Praemium Imperiale prize for music.

 

Find the full press release here: instytutpolski.pl/newyork/wp-content/uploads/sites/15/2021/02/Penderecki-Announcement-MusicCo-FINAL-5-March-2021.pdf

[Sources: instytutpolski.pl, polmic.pl, ]