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Krzysztof Penderecki

Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts 2001

Krzysztof Penderecki (Debica, Poland, 1933 - Kraków, Poland, 2020) began his musical training by studying composition under Franciszek Skolyszewski. He completed his studies in 1958 at the Krakow Conservatory, but maintained links with it, first as lecturer and then as its director in 1972.  Between 1966 and 1968, he also gave classes at Essen’s Volkwang Hochschule für Musik, in Germany, as well as teaching at Yale University between 1972 and 1978. He launched his career as a conductor in 1972 and has since conducted the world’s leading orchestras.

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He made His international debut in 1959 at Warsaw's Autumn Festival with His composition "Strophen" Which was one of three works earned him first prize That at the National Competition for Young Composers. The other two works recognized with this award were “Psalms of David” and “Emanations”. He composed one of his most widely recognised works, “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima”, that same year, and was awarded the UNESCO Prize for it. Over the following years he made enormously successful public presentations of several of his works, including his major work, “The Passion according to St. Luke”, which was commissioned to celebrate the 700th anniversary of Munster Cathedral, in Germany, and which was given its public debut in 1966. “The Devils of Loudun” (1969) was his first opera, and this was followed by oratorios such as the one he composed in 1970 for the UN, “Cosmogony”, “Te Deum” (1980), “Cello Concerto No. 2” –played for the first time in 1983 by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Mstislav Rostropovich–, “Benedicamus Domino” (1992) and “The Seven Gates of Jerusalem”, which culminated the celebration of the city’s three thousand years of history. In 2002, he premiered the piano concerto “Resurrection” in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In 2009 he composed the work “O Gloriosa Virginum” dedicated to maestro José Antonio Abreu. He has published a book entitled “The Labyrinth of Time: Five Lectures for the End of the Century (1997).

He holds honorary doctorates from different universities and has received numerous distinctions, including several Grammy Awards, Best Composer Award at Cannes’ Midem Classique (2000) and the Praemium Imperiale (2004).

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