Vodka and Tomato Soup. Condolences from a Friend of the Pendereckis
I witnessed his daily artistic work in Lusławice. Every day after breakfast he would get down to work (those crispy rolls and wholemeal bread, delicious fairy cakes and freshly squeezed orange juice!) He had a wonderful sense of humour, was always very precise in his speech and knew exactly what he was aiming at. He loved the Polish cuisine, tomato soup, and Polish vodka. For several decades he spent his brief summer holidays on the Baltic beaches. We met in New York. In the 1970s Krzysztof lectured at Yale University. It all started with our collective birthday celebrations in 1975: Halina Rodziński, Elżbieta, Krzysztof, and myself, all born in November. I played at New York Philharmonic at that time. From 1973 onwards, Penderecki’s music got performed there more and more regularly and frequently, under the Philharmonic’s successive directors, such as Zubin Mehta, Kurt Masur, and Lorin Maazel. Penderecki himself would also take the conductor’s podium, appearing with Anne Sophie Mutter or Mstislav Rostropovich. (…) How can so many years of affection and admiration for the Artist be put in words? Of the joy of hearing his new works for the first time? In 1965 I performed music of the Polish Baroque at Warsaw Philharmonic’s Chamber Music Hall, as part of [chamber ensemble] Con moto ma cantabile, and an unaccompanied choir appeared there with the premiere of Stabat Mater, which is part of St Luke Passion. It was a shock to hear a choir whisper, shout, and sing – a new and electrifying kind of music. In New York I sat next to Krzysztof at the dress rehearsal for the Carnegie Hall performance of his Piano Concerto, listening to Emanuel Ax. He described his own reaction as the anxiety of witnessing one’s child being born.