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On 29 March we lost the Polish composer and conductor Krzysztof Penderecki at the age of 86. He was one of the most important voices of the 20th century avant-garde.

Penderecki’s impressive oeuvre spans symphonies, chamber music, works for choir, oratorios and operas. His writing started out as resolutely radical. Fame came with Threnody, a terrifying piece for 52 string instruments as a tribute to the victims of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. After 1970 his writing became more accessible, full of colours and romantic gestures.

His avant-garde scores not only ensure his place in the canon of 20th century classical music, his music  - like that of his contemporary György Ligeti - has also proved very popular with film directors. His work features prominently in successful movies such as Kubrick’s The Shining, Friedkin’s The Exorcist and Lynch’s Inland Empire.

BOZAR had the honour of welcoming Krzysztof Penderecki on several occasions, most recently in 2011 when he conducted his own Second Violin Concerto. His work is regularly performed in our concert halls.


  • © Veerle Vercauteren

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