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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Anniversary: Polish composer Andrzej Panufnik died 30 years ago

27.10.2021 11:45
October 27 marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Andrzej Panufnik, a renowned Polish composer who spent more than half of his life in Britain and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to British culture.
Andrzej Panufnik
Andrzej PanufnikPAP/Stanisław Dąbrowiecki

Born in Warsaw in 1914 into a musical family, Panufnik studied composition and conducting at the city’s Music Conservatory.

All of his compositions written before 1944 were destroyed in a fire that year during the Warsaw Uprising against Poland's German occupiers.

He spent the years of the German occupation in Warsaw, taking part in numerous artistic events, including performing in a piano duet with Witold Lutosławski.

After the war, Panufnik held prominent conducing posts and developed his career as a composer. Despite numerous triumphs at home, he decided to leave Poland illegally and emigrated to Britain in 1954.

From that time until 1977, performances of his works in Poland were banned and even his name was not allowed to be mentioned in publications.

After settling in Britain, he served for three years as music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, but from 1959 onwards he devoted himself solely to composing, winning numerous awards and distinctions.

He made his first, and only, visit to Poland in 1990 after the collapse of communism in the country.

On January 1, 1991, Queen Elizabeth II honoured Panufnik with a knighthood for his services to British culture.

He died in October of that year at the age of 77.

(mk/gs)