The Elopement of Stefania Szylkiewicz
The Penderecki family roots are one of the sources of his openness to other cultures. On his mother’s side, the Berger family came to what is now Poland from Germany, while his paternal grandma was of Armenian descent. At age 16 Stefania Szylkiewicz and the 19 years older Michał Penderecki fell in love with each other. Since parents did not accept such a match, the composer’s would-be grandfather eloped with his beloved, and they married in secret in the Greek Catholic rite. The newly-weds only made it up with the family later, on their return home. The Polish Armenian community still lists Krzysztof Penderecki among its most eminent figures.