His works have been performed by choirs and orchestras at the most prestigious venues around the world.
Penderecki's talent was brought to international attention in 1961, when his composition titled Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima won the UNESCO International Tribune of Composers in Paris prize.
Among Penderecki’s best known works are also Symphony No. 3, his St. Luke Passion, Polish Requiem, Anaklasis and Utrenja.
Polish President Andrzej Duda wrote in a tweet that Penderecki's works gave beginning to a whole era in Polish and world culture.
"His monumental Polish Requiem was performed as part of the commemorations of the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II. It was one of the last public performances of a great composer," Duda added.
The Polish Requiem was written over several years, with the last addition made after the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005.
The piece commemorates important events and figures in Polish history, with individual parts dedicated to the Katyń massacre, the Warsaw Uprising and the revolt in the Warsaw Ghetto, as well as the bloody anti-communist protests of 1970.
Poland's Culture Minister Piotr Gliński said: "Polish culture has suffered a huge and irreperable loss," adding that Penderecki was "the most prominent Polish contemporary composer."
Penderecki was the author of four operas and eight symphonies. He also composed other orchestral pieces, instrumental concertos, as well as chamber and instrumental works.
His compositions were widely used in cult movies: Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, as well as Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island.
His long list of honours, distinctions, medals and honorary doctorates includes the Order of the White Eagle, the highest Polish state distinction, and state honours from Germany, Austria, France and Monaco, in addition to several Grammy awards.
Click on the "Play" button above for an audio report by Radio Poland’s Elżbieta Krajewska