Polish composer honoured with German federal decoration

German Ambassador Rolf Nikel decorated a renowned Polish contemporary composer, Krzysztof Penderecki, with the Great Cross of Merit with the Star of the Federal Republic of Germany on the occasion of the composer's 85th birthday on Friday.

The ceremony took place during the finale of the Krzysztof Penderecki Festival in Warsaw.

"On the occasion of your 85th birthday we wish you unflagging strength of spirit and body, the successful implementation of all artistic goals, an active and fruitful presence in the cultural life of Poland and the world, and satisfaction with your creative and pedagogical successes, which already today constitute a separate, particularly important chapter in the history of Polish music," President Andrzej Duda wrote in a letter read out by his minister Wojciech Kolarski.

German Ambassador Rolf Nikel read a letter from the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. "Your enormous artistic output spanning over six decades enjoys world-wide fame. Through your composing, conducting and academic activities you are particularly connected to the Germans in many ways. Most of all, thanks to your commitment to the Krzyżowa - Music project, you have become one of the most important bridge builders between Germany and Poland," the German president stressed in the letter.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Minister of Foreign Affairs Jacek Czaputowicz, former President Lech Wałęsa and President of the Polish Olympic Committee Andrzej Kraśnicki also addressed letters to Penderecki.

On November 23, Penderecki's birthday, the composer himself conducted the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra during a concert at the Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera in Warsaw.

Penderecki is one of the best known Polish composers. His most famous pieces include St. Luke Passion, Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima, Dies Irae, Morning Prayer, Polish Requiem, Te Deum, Seven Gates of Jerusalem and the operas Black Mask, Paradise lost and the Devils of Loudun.

Penderecki has received several Grammy awards during his career - in 1988 for his 2nd Violin Concerto, in 1999 as best contemporary composer, in 2001 for the work Credo, and in 2013 for an album of his orchestral compositions.

The Polish composer gained international renown for his use of unconventional techniques of extracting audio from traditional instruments, which can be heard in one of Penderecki's most famous works, Victims of Hiroshima; the technique is called sonorism.