b. 1944, Lwów; now Lviv, Ukraine


Elzbieta Sikora with her grandmother’s harp.

Elżbieta Sikora was born in Lwów on 20 October 1944. She completed studies in sound engineering at the State Higher School of Music in Warsaw. In 1968-70 she studied electroacoustic music under Pierre Schaeffer and Francois Bayle at the Paris Groupe de Recherches Musicales. After her return to Warsaw, she took up composition studies with Tadeusz Baird and Zbigniew Rudziński. During her studies, together with Krzysztof Knittel and Wojciech Michniewski she formed the KEW composers’ group, with which she toured in Poland, Sweden, Austria and West Germany. Since 1981 she has lived in France where she attended a computer music course at IRCAM and studied composition with Betsy Jolas. At present she is professor at the Conservatory in Angouleme, France, where she teaches electroacoustic music.

A recipient of grants from the French government, the city of Mannheim and the Kosciuszko Foundation, she worked under John Chowning for several months at the Center for Computer Research for Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), at Stanford University.
She is the winner of the Young Composers’ Circle of the Polish Composers’ Union prize (1978, distinction for According to Pascal), Weber Competition in Dresden (1978, Second prize for a chamber opera Ariadna), Electroacoustic Music Competition in Bourges (1980, distinctions for The Waste Land and Letters to M.) and a competition for composers in Mannheim (1982, First prize for Guernica). In 1998 she received a Prix Magistere from the Bourges Festival of Electroacoustic Music.

Sikora’s pieces have been performed in a majority of European countries and in the United States, e.g. at the Avignon Festival, Festival de Paris, Dresdner Musikfestspiele, “Fylkingen” in Stockholm and GMEB in Bourges festivals, as well as at the “Warsaw Autumn” Contemporary Music Festival. She received a prestigious commission to write a cantata for the 1000th anniversary of her home city of Gdańsk. Elżbieta Sikora also received two SACEM awards in 1994: Prix Pedagogique for Chant’Europe and Prix du Printemps for all of her works. in 1996 she was granted “Nouveau Talent Musique” prize for her opera L’Arrache-coeur in Paris. In 1997 Sikora was awarded Poland’s Cavalier Cross of Merit.

List of Works

Chamber Music

Inventions for tuba, 2 percussionists and mime – 1969
String Quartet – 1975
According to Pascal for trumpet, harp, harpsichord, cello and reciter – 1976
First Journey for tuba – 1977
String Quartet No. 2 – 1980
Interludes for flute and harp – 1980
Sand for flute and percussion – 1980
Third Journey for flute – 1981
Eine kleine Tagmusic for 7 instruments – 1983
Solo for violin – 1983
Suite for cello and tape – 1989
Suite II for harpsichord, tape and transformations – 1990
Strings Sextet-Hommage a Witold Lutosławski – 1993
Canzona for viola da gamba and instrumental ensemble – 1994-95
Thinking of Brahms for string quartet – 1996

Orchestral works

Cercles for orchestra – 1975
Suite III (Baroque) for orchestra – 1997

Electroacoustic music

Prenom – 1970
A View from the Window – 1971
The Uncertainty of Summer – 1973
First Journey for double bass and two tape recorders – 1974
Second Journey – 1976
In the Night with Face to Heaven – 1978
Rhapsody on the Death of the Republic – 1979
The Waste Land, radio piece based on T.S. Eliot – 1979
Letters to M. – 1980
The Head of Orpheus I – 1981
The Head of Orpheus III – 1981-82
Derriere son double radio opera for voice, instrumental ensemble and electronic sounds – 1983
Geometries variables – 1991
On the Line for soprano and tape – 1992
Flashback – 1996

Vocal-Instrumental Music

Heart-Brightening Song for soprano and 5 instruments – 1973
Heart-Brightening Song for soprano, flute and harpsichord – 1983
The Creation of the World for 2 vocal ensembles and chamber orchestra – 1976
Salve Regina for choir and organ – 1981
L’Arrache – coeur, opera – 1984-86
La Creation, oratorio – 1986
Loreley for soprano and instrumental ensemble – 1987
Rappel II for orchestra and SYTER – 1988
A peine le temps que dure une vision for soprano, chamber ensemble and tape – 1989
Chant de Salomon for soprano and chamber ensemble – 1991
Omnia Tempus Habent, oratorio for solo voice-alto, boys’ choir, mixed choir, organ and orchestra – 1997

Choral Music

Guernica – Hommage a Pablo Picasso – 1975-79

Stage Music

Ariadna, chamber opera – 1977
L’Arrache – coeur, opera – 1984-86
La Clef de Verre, ballet – 1986

Manuscripts at USC

Ariadna [Ariadne], chamber opera to a text based on Cesare Pavese. Manuscript score in black ink, 72 pages, on music paper from Dom Ksi ki, 32 staves. Annotation on the front page: “praca dyplomowa napisana pod kierunkiem doc. Zbigniewa Rudzi skiego na Wydz.I kompozycji PWSM w Warszawie w 1977” [Diploma work written under the guidance of Doc. Zbigniew Rudzi ski at the Department of Composition, State Higher School of Music in Warsaw, 1977].

In Her Own Words

“In my work I am in daily contact with the electronic music studio; however, music that is purely instrumental or vocal gradually takes more space in my output. Actually, I think that separating compositional techniques into electroacoustic and instrumental types and that ascribing specific aesthetic positions to these techniques does not make much sense today. Contemporary French music aesthetics is inclined towards the Apollonian trend – i.e. pure art – whereas I feel closer to the Dionysian trend in which emotions are as important as formal principles in building the final shape of a composition.”

[Sikora, interview with Michel Pazdro, Ruch Muzyczny, 1987]

Page updated on 2 July 2001.