1992 – Krzysztof Penderecki

A Polish composer known for sending moral and political messages through his music has won the 1992 award.

Krzysztof Penderecki won the award for his symphonic piece, “Adagio for Large Orchestra.” Commissioned by Radio France and the French secretary of state for the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, the work was premiered by Lorin Maazel and the Orchestre National de France Nov. 26, 1989, in Paris.

The tonal, lyrical work is taken from Penderecki’s “Fourth Symphony.” The 33-minute composition celebrates the traditions of 19th century music in new and inventive ways.

Penderecki’s interest in political and social themes is well-established. He wrote the cantata “Cosmogony” for the Silver Jubilee of the United Nations. Other works include “Threnody: To the Victims of Hiroshima,” “Dies Irae: Oratorio in Memory of Those Murdered at Auschwitz” and “Polish Requiem,” dedicated to the oppressed people of Poland and their political fight for freedom.

“Adagio for Large Orchestra” is published by B. Schott’s Sohne of Mainz, Germany, and distributed in the United States by European American Music Distributors Corp. Recordings of his music are available on the First Edition, Deutsche Grammophone, Denon, Wergo, Muza, Crystal, Olympia, Erato, Coronet and Musica Viva labels.

Penderecki is director of the Krakow Academy of Music in Poland and a former professor at Yale University.

He arrived in Louisville on September 10th to accept the award and attended a performance of the prize-winning composition by the Louisville Orchestra. The concert opened Sound Celebration II, an international festival of contemporary music.