Sad news coming out of Hollywood today, as it has been announced that Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki has passed away at the age of 86. Penderecki has been a staple of some of the industry's most well known and well-regarded movies including the likes of The Shining, The Exorcist and Wild at Heart, as well as many others. He died at his home in Krakow, with his death having been confirmed by the director of the Ludwig van Beethoven Association, an organization founded by his wife, Elzbieta.

Penderecki was born in Dębica, Poland in 1933 and studied at the Academy of Music in Krakow, becoming one of Poland's most well-known composers. Penderecki's career began in 1959 as a teacher at the Academy Of Music In Kraków. He became known for his avant-garde compositions, with one of his most famous and demanding pieces, 1960s Threnody To The Victims Of Hiroshima, being written for no-less than 52 string instruments. Some of his other notable works include Polymorphia and Saint Luke's Passion. Penderecki would eventually move away from the avant-garde and into choral compositions and other works.

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During his hugely successful career Penderecki was the recipient of four Grammy Awards. One in 2016 for Best Choral Performance, two in 1998 for Best Classical Contemporary Composition and Best Instrumental Soloist Performance With Orchestra, and one in 1987 for Best Contemporary Composition.

His long career saw him create a vast amount of soundtrack and score work, producing eight symphonies, four operas, a requiem, and various concertos and choral works, many of them politically motivated and notably technically difficult to play.

Penderecki became a particular source of inspiration for movie directors, and though he rarely scored movies himself, he did compose for Andrzej Wajda's 2007 Oscar-nominated Katyń, a movie which told the story of the 1940 Katyn massacre. His music was also included in several movies over the years, with such iconic directors as Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch making extensive use of his work, as well as it appearing in other movies such as Children of Men.

Penderecki's music has also become a huge influence well beyond his work on the big screen and has served as inspiration for several prominent musicians including Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood, who himself provided soundtracks for the likes of There Will Be Blood and Phantom Thread. Greenwood expressed his sadness at the news of Penderecki's passing via social media.

"What sad news to wake to. Penderecki was the greatest - a fiercely creative composer, and a gentle, warm-hearted man. My condolences to his family, and to Poland on this huge loss to the musical world."

A short statement regarding Krzysztof Penderecki's death was given by Poland's Ministry of Culture.

"After a long and serious illness, Krzysztof Penderecki - one of the greatest Polish musicians, a world authority in the field of classical music died."

Poland's culture minister Piotr Glinski also said that the country's culture had "suffered a huge and irreparable loss." Penderecki is survived by his second wife, Elzbieta, and by daughters Beata and Dominika and son Lukasz. This comes to us from Culture.pl.

Jon Fuge at Movieweb
Jon Fuge