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Panufnik Centenary: Celebrating Around the World

(July 2014)

The Panufnik Centenary is celebrated this summer and fall by orchestras on multiple continents.

The Panufnik Centenary celebrations are moving into festival mode, leading towards the birthday month of September and the autumn season. In the Americas, performances include the Chicago Symphony and Riccardo Muti opening its season with Concerto in Modo Antico (2 October), the St. Louis Symphony and John Storgårds in Landscape (24 October), and the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Stanislaw Skrowaczewski in Tragic Overture (6 November). As a special lecture event in Los Angeles, the Polish Music Center at the University of Southern California will feature Panufnik’s widow, Camilla, in a talk on her late husband’s life and music. A chamber concert featuring mezzo-soprano Juliana Gondek follows the lecture (5 Oct). American orchestras have played a prominent role in the premiere history of works by Andrzej Panufnik; his Sinfonia Elegiaca was first performed in 1957 by the Houston Symphony under Leopold Stokowski and his Sinfonia Votiva received its first performance in 1982 by the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa. Other orchestral works premiered in America include Harmony, Katyn Epitaph, Symphony No. 10, Arbor Cosmica, and the Bassoon Concerto.

The focus shifts to London when Kings Place presents a Panufnik day of chamber music, films and talks, including all three quartets performed by the Brodsky Quartet, concluding with a Warsaw Cabaret (30 November).

Orchestral performances this summer include Kirill Karabits conducting Heroic Overture with the Bournemouth Symphony, part of a Panufnik feature at the Cheltenham Festival (2 July), and Sinfonia Elegiaca at the Edinburgh Festival with the young players of the I, Culture Orchestra (17 August). The Presteigne Festival includes six Panufnik works including Sinfonia Concertante and Landscape (22 August). The largest Polish celebration is at the International Chopin Festival in Warsaw with 11 works including an all-Panufnik programme of Symphony No. 10, Violin Concerto and Arbor Cosmica with Sinfonia Varsovia and Jerzy Maksymiuk (27 August).

The birthday itself on 24 September brings a special centenary concert by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, which in 1957 offered the émigré composer his first conductorship after his dramatic escape to the West. The programme includes the Piano Concerto that Panufnik premiered with the orchestra, here with Peter Donohoe as soloist, and Sinfonia Elegiaca which received its UK premiere with the CBSO under his baton. The birthday also marks the launch of a major conference in Warsaw about the composer’s music led by his biographer Beata Boleslawska.

Autumn events in Poland continue with the London Symphony Orchestra under Antonio Pappano performing Symphony No. 10 within the opening celebrations for the new NPRSO concert hall in Katowice (18 Oct), repeated the following day at the Barbican in London. Kraków plays host to three days of concerts and a conference led by Ewa Siemdaj (23-26 Oct), and chamber events run throughout the autumn around the country presented by the Institute of Music and Dance.

In terms of recordings the Panufnik centenary has seen the completion of CPO’s major survey of the composer’s symphonies and concertos conducted by Lukasz Borowicz, and a historic recording of the Bassoon Concerto conducted by the composer on the Heritage label. New discs of chamber music and songs are on the Chandos, Naxos, BIS and Signum labels. Books in preparation include an English translation of Beata Boleslawska’s Panufnik biography from Ashgate Publishing and Panufnik’s autobiography Composing Myself translated into Polish (Panufnik o sobie) from Marginesy and in a new English edition supplemented by Panufnik’s other writings on music from Toccata Press.

For a full diary of centenary events visit or

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