Polish composer. His expressionist works, such as the Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima (1961) for strings, use cluster and percussion effects. He later turned to religious subjects and a more orthodox style, as in the Magnificat (1974) and the Polish Requiem (1980–83). His opera The Black Mask (1986) uncovered a new vein of surreal humour.
His early music made use of aleatory techniques (see aleatory music) and microtonal clusters developed by Iannis Xenakis (1922–2001) and Witold Lutosławski. Belonging at one time to the avant-garde, he dramatically changed style during the 1970s and began writing in a 19th-century orchestral style with occasional surface dissonance (a form of Neo-Romanticism). He gained great commercial success with these later works.
WorksOperaThe Devils of Loudun (1969), Paradise Lost (1978), Die schwarze Maske (1986), and Ubu Rex (1991).
Choral and orchestralSt Luke Passion for speaker, two soloists, chorus, and orchestra (1963–66); Stabat Mater and Psalms of David for chorus and orchestra (1963, 1958); Emanations for two string orchestras (1958); Anaclasis for strings and percussion (1960); Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima for 52 strings (1960); De natura sonoris for orchestra (1966); Dies Irae for soloists, chorus, and orchestra (1967); Utrenja for soloists, chorus, and orchestra (1969–71); two cello concertos (1972, 1982); two symphonies (1973, 1980); Canticum canticorum (1972); Magnificat (1974); Polish Requiem (1980–1983); Songs of Cherubim and Veni Creator for chorus (1986–87); Passacaglia (1988) and Adagio (1989) for orchestra; violin concerto (1977); Te Deum (1979); Viola concerto (1983).
EnsembleFluorescences for chamber ensemble (1961), Der Unterbrochene Gedanke for string quartet (1988), two string quartets (1960, 1968).
His music, for which he has devised a special system of notation, is characterized by note clusters and unusual sound effects....
1933- Polish composer. His reputation was established in 1960 with his Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima for string orchestra. Other...