DJ duo Skalpel, sound artist Robert Piotrowicz and composer Paweł Romańczuk have written short works inspired by the music of Krzysztof Penderecki [pictured]

The Adam Mickiewicz Institute (AMI) today release a special digital album to mark the anniversary of the birth of Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki. AMI have made the album available for anyone to listen to for free via SoundCloud as part of their work celebrating the legacy of Penderecki who died earlier this year. AMI are also creating a limited-edition vinyl which will be made available to fans of Penderecki across the next year.

The highlight of the album is Penderecki’s Painters of Gdańsk, a twenty-minute piece written for the soundtrack to ‘The Educational’, a 1964 film by Marian Ussorowski. The piece is relatively unknown in comparison to the rest of the composer’s body of work, of which film music played a key part, having written the music for notable films including Kubrick’s The Shining, Friedkin’s The Exorcist and Scorsese’s Shutter Island.

To accompany this work, the Adam Mickiewicz Institute this year commissioned three Polish artists to compose short pieces inspired by specific works by Penderecki. 

Paweł Romańczuk, a composer and arranger from Wrocław, was inspired by Penderecki’s The Seven Gates of Jerusalem and the music to the Saragossa Manuscript when composing his piece Tubu Fon. Romańczuk explains “I have often used an instrument used by Penderecki many times – the Jerusalem tubaphone – which in this piece I combine with the stratified rhythmic pattern I’ve taken from the Manuscript.”

Sound artist, composer and improviser Robert Piotrowicz composed Amateur Music for this project, inspired by Penderecki’s Cello Concerto No. 1, a work he often returns to. Piotrowicz explains “Penderecki would probably classify me as an amateur. With this in mind – for fun – I decided to prepare a piece referring to nothing, quite unconsciously building complex vertical and horizontal sound relationships that arrange themselves completely randomly and without any control into a whole.”

Electronic duo Skalpel took inspiration from Penderecki’s Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima and Adagietto when writing their piece Synthesis. The duo said “by juxtaposing Penderecki’s music with the sounds of contemporary electronic music it becomes clear how relevant his pioneering discoveries remain.”

Krzysztof Penderecki (23 November 1933 – 29 March 2020) was a Polish composer and conductor whose versatile musical output was referenced not only in the classical genre but also in film, rock, jazz and electronic music. Penderecki won many prizes and awards including the Sibelius Gold Medal, two Prix Italia and five Grammy Awards. One of Penderecki’s most well-known works is Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, a work written in 1960, which was awarded the Tribune Internationale des Composieurs UNESCO prize.