IN MEMORIAM - Krzystof Penderecki and his special relationship with the MBZ

Composer and conductor Krzysztof Penderecki is one of the most innovative composers of contemporary music, who has left a huge mark in music history, but also shared a special relationship with our music life and the Music Biennale Zagreb.

This versatile musician first came to Zagreb in 1963, to the second edition of the Festival, and was since its frequent guest. At the iconic Festival in 1985, which featured guests such as Iannis Xenakis, John Cage, Vinko Globokar, Luciano Berio, it was Penderecki himself conducting the Zagreb Symphony of the RTZ who closed the Festival with a concert of exclusively his own works. He again returned to the MBZ in 2007 as the main guest and the biggest star of that edition of the Festival, and four years later he conducted the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra with Radovan Vlatković performing as a soloist his Concerto for horn and orchestra Winterreise. He gladly visited Zagreb, and over the years collaborated with many local musicians.

Krzysztof Eugeniusz Penderecki was born on 23 November 1933 in Dębica in Poland, and showed an interest in music early on. He studied music at Jagiellonian University and the Music Academy in Krakow, and after graduation became a professor. His composing career began in 1959 at the Warsaw Autumn Festival. His works Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima and St. Luke Passion received critical acclaim, and although his first opera originally did not achieve notable success, it was later well received both by the audience and the critics.

Penderecki was a great composer who received many prestigious awards and honors throughout his career. He won four Grammy Awards, two Prix Italia awards, was declared the greatest composer of all times by international newspapers such as The Guardian, and in 2013 the former President of the Republic of Croatia Ivo Josipović awarded Penderecki the medal of the Order of Danica Hrvatska with the Effigy of Antun Radić for his outstanding contribution to the development of contemporary music, as well as cultural cooperation between Poland and Croatia.

Famous directors Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese and David Lynch used Penderecki’s music in several of their movies. In addition to classical musicians, Penderecki was also open to pop culture, which resulted in his famous collaboration with Radiohead’s legendary guitarist Jonny Greenwood and with Aphex Twin in 2011.
Krzysztof Penderecki stood out with his innovative spirit throughout his career and had built a unique oeuvre. Music lost a true artist with his death. His works shall long be remembered.