Krzysztof Penderecki, Polish Composer With Cinematic Flair, Dies at 86
Krzysztof Penderecki, a Polish composer and conductor whose modernist works jumped from the concert hall to popular culture, turning up in soundtracks for films like “The Exorcist” and “The Shining” and influencing a generation of edgy rock musicians, died on Sunday at his home in Krakow. He was 86. [...]
Mr. Penderecki was most widely known for choral compositions evoking Poland’s ardent Catholicism and history of foreign domination, and for his early experimental works, with their massive tone clusters and disregard for melody and harmony. Those ideas would reverberate for decades after he himself had pronounced them “more destructive than constructive” and changed course toward neo-Romanticism.
(His decision to move on was partly political: The Polish avant-garde movement had created an unhealthy illusion of freedom in a country living under Communism, he said. But it was also artistic: Experimentation had reached an impasse, he told a Canadian interviewer in 1998, because “we discovered everything!”)
Still, it was compositions from the wild first decade of his career, including “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima” (1960), “Polymorphia” (1961) and the “St. Luke Passion” (1966) that brought him lasting international recognition while he was still a young man. [...]