Krzysztof Penderecki, Poland’s greatest living composer and conductor, celebrated his 85th birthday during the inauguration of the International Festival of Eastern-Central European Music, Eufonie at Teatr Wielki – The Polish National Opera in Warsaw. The festival was organized by the Polish National Centre for Culture. The famous Sinfonia Varsovia was conducted by Krzysztof Tworek, Christoph Eschenbach and Leonard Slatkin. Throughout the concert the audience heard combined choirs from the National Philharmonic and the Grand Theater-National Opera.
Krzysztof Penderecki was born on November 23rd, 1933 in Dębica. Penderecki studied music at Jagiellonian University and the Academy of Music in Kraków. After graduating from the Academy of Music he became a teacher at the academy. His career as a composer began in 1959 during the Warsaw Autumn festival. It was during that year that Penderecki composed Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima. It was his best known and most often performed composition, for which he received the UNESCO prize. Between 1968-69, Penderecki wrote his first opera, The Devils of Loudun, commissioned by the Hamburg State Opera where it had its world premiere in 1969. Since then, the opera has been produced numerous times, been broadcast, televised, and released on record. In 1972 Penderecki began his conducting career, he has subsequently performed on the most prestigious podiums with various orchestras around the world.
In the years between 1972 and 1978, Krzysztof Penderecki was a professor at the Yale University School of Music. In 1999 received two Grammy Awards for Best Classical Contemporary Composition, (Violin Concerto No. 2 – “Metamorphosen” performed by Anne-Sophie Mutter) and for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (Penderecki Violin Concerto No. 2 under the composer’s baton). On January 23rd, 2000, Krzysztof Penderecki received the “Best Living Composer” award at the Midem Classic in Cannes and in October 2000 an honorary doctorate from the University of Luzern.
The composer’s jubilee was also attended by Deputy Ministers of Culture Jarosław Sellin and Wanda Zwinogrodzka. The German Ambassador Rolf Nikel honored Krzysztof Penderecki on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany with the Great Cross of Merit with the Star on the occasion of the 85th birthday of the composer. During the ceremony, letters from President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki were read. Also the President of Polish Radio Andrzej Rogoyski handed the composer the Diamond Microphone and the first copy of the album “Sonoristic Penderecki by Penderecki” published by the Polish Radio Music Agency.