Krzysztof Penderecki, Influential Polish Composer, Dead at 86
In recent years, Penderecki’s works gained the attention of rock fans after the composer collaborated with Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood, resulting in a joint album featuring their versions of Penderecki’s Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima and Polymorphia, as well as Greenwood’s Popcorn Superhet Receiver and a variations on Polymorphia.
“His pieces make such wonderful sounds,” Greenwood told The Guardian in 2012. “I think a lot of people might think his work is stridently dissonant or painful on the ears. But because of the complexity of what’s happening – particularly in pieces such as Threnody and Polymorphia, and how the sounds are bouncing around the concert hall, it becomes a very beautiful experience when you’re there. It’s not like listening to feedback, and it’s not dissonant. It’s something else. It’s a celebration of so many people making music together and it’s like – wow, you’re watching that happen.”
In 2019, Portishead’s Beth Gibbons and composer Henryk Gorecki released Symphony of Sorrowful, featuring Penderecki conducting the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra. Greenwood tweeted Sunday, “What sad news to wake to. Penderecki was the greatest – a fiercely creative composer, and a gentle, warm-hearted man. My condolences to his family, and to Poland on this huge loss to the musical world”.