By Daniel Lewis
KRAKOW, Poland (New York Times) — Krzysztof Penderecki, a Polish composer and conductor whose modernist works jumped from the concert hall to popular culture, turning up in soundtracks for films like “The Exorcist” and “The Shining” and influencing a generation of edgy rock musicians, died on Sunday, March 29, at his home in Krakow. He was 86.
His death was confirmed by Andrzej Giza, the director of the Ludwig van Beethoven Association, which was founded by Penderecki’s wife, Elzbieta.
Penderecki’s grandfather, Robert Berger, was a highly talented painter and director of the local bank at the time of Penderecki’s birth. His grandmother was an Armenian from Isfahan, Iran.
Penderecki was regarded as Poland’s pre-eminent composer for more than half a century, and in all those years he never seemed to sit still. Beginning in the 1960s with radical ideas that placed him firmly in the avant-garde, he went on to produce dozens of compositions including eight symphonies, four operas, a requiem and other choral works, and several concertos he cheerfully described as being almost impossible to play.
Among those who could were the violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, whose recordings of the concertos he wrote for them won Grammy Awards in 1999 and 1988, respectively.