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Curtis 20/21 Ensemble Celebrates Penderecki in NYC and Philadelphia


Performances | Program About Penderecki | About Curtis 20/21 | Learn More 

In celebration of Krzysztof Penderecki's 80th birthday, the composer leads the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble, the school's contemporary music group, in a program of his own music at Carnegie Hall's intimate, modern Zankel Hall on March 20. The program is repeated on March 22 at Gould Rehearsal Hall. Penderecki is Curtis's composer in residence for the 2013-14 season.

A pick of the week in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and The New Yorker!

The Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall performance is sponsored by   BNNP color logo


New York City
Thursday, March 20, 2014

7:30 p.m.
Carnegie Hall, Zankel Hall, 881 7th Avenue, New York

Order tickets
or contact CarnegieCharge at (212) 247-7800.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

7:30 p.m.
Pre-Concert Conversation
David Ludwig and Krzysztof Penderecki

8:00 p.m.

Gould Rehearsal Hall, Lenfest Hall 1616 Locust Street

This concert will be live streamed on Curtis Performs.

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Duo Concertante
Suite for Solo Cello
Sinfonietta per archi
Sinfonietta No. 3 (U.S. premiere)

About Penderecki

Krzysztof Penderecki was born on November 23, 1933, in DÄ™bica, Poland. After studying violin and piano from a very early age, he entered the conservatoire in Krakow at age 18. He then studied composition with Artur Malewski and Stanislas Wiechowicz at the Krakow Academy of Music, where he was appointed as professor in 1958. The following year he won all three prizes at the Warsaw Competition for Young Composers. With the premiere of Anaklasis at the Donaueschingen Festival in 1960, he became part of the international avant-garde. He gained a reputation with a wider public with the premiere of the St. Luke Passion in Münster Cathedral in 1966.

Penderecki’s first opera, The Devils of Loudon, based on a book by Aldous Huxley, premiered at the Hamburg State Opera in 1969. In 1972 he was appointed rector of the State Academy of Music in Krakow; he also taught at Yale University from 1973 to 1978, and gained an international reputation as the conductor of both his own compositions and other works.

Penderecki has composed several of his works in remembrance of catastrophes in the 20th century. Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima (1960) is dedicated to the victims of the atomic bomb; and the piano concerto Resurrection was composed in reaction to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Extensive political-social associations can also be found in the Polish Requiem, which he began in 1980 with the composition of the “Lacrimosa,” dedicated to Lech Walesa. He dedicated other movements of this work to the Polish victims of Auschwitz and the Warsaw uprising in 1944. This was supplemented by the "Ciaccona in memoriam Johannes Paul II" (2005), commemorating the Polish Pope.

Penderecki’s seventh symphony, Seven Gates of Jerusalem, premiered in 1997. This hour-long work was inspired by the 3,000-year anniversary of the city, and its Old Testament texts are associated with Jerusalem’s turbulent history. Lieder der Vergänglichkeit, his eighth symphony, for soloists, choir and large orchestra, sets German Romantic poems related to trees and the woods and was commissioned to open the Philharmonie Luxembourg in 2005.

Penderecki has received multiple awards throughout his career, including the Prix Italia and Sibelius Gold Medal (1967), Prix Arthur Honegger (1977), National Prize of Poland (1983), Grawemeyer Award from the University of Louisville (1992), and the Praemium Imperiale (2004). In 1995 he became a member of the Royal Academy of Music in Dublin; and in 1998 he became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. He holds numerous honorary doctorates and professorships internationally. This performance is the culmination of his residency at the Curtis Institute of Music.


Flexible in size and scope, the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble performs a wide range of music from the 20th and 21st centuries, including works by Curtis students and alumni. The ensemble has appeared at major U.S. venues such as the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and Miller Theatre, as well as internationally. The Curtis 20/21 Ensemble collaborates with some of today’s most prominent artists, including Charles Dutoit, eighth blackbird, and Matthias Pintscher. It has presented portrait concerts of iconic composers in residence John Corigliano, George Crumb, Krzysztof Penderecki, and Steven Stucky, among others. Of the ensemble’s Joan Tower portrait program, the New York Times wrote, “Ms. Tower could hardly have hoped for more passionate performances. ” The Curtis 20/21 Ensemble is led by artistic director David Ludwig.

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Program Notes

More about the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble

About composers in residence at Curtis

NPR Classical’s Deceptive Cadence profile of Penderecki and his music:
The Sound of Struggle Tempered With Terror: Penderecki At 80