Krzysztof Penderecki


Serialism, sonorism, aleatoricism, indeterminism… the musical avant-garde of the last century and their followers generated a breathtaking gaggle of isms of which these four are just a sample. This week we examine a work which bridges several worlds (and quite a few isms), Penderecki’s Saint Luke Passion.

Penderecki was one of the major modernists of the mid twentieth century; his first work to claim public attention, the terrifying and beautiful Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima (1960), was written for fifty-two string instruments and used graphics rather than traditional crotchets and quavers to commit its sound world to paper (you can look at and listen to the score below); six years later his Passio et Mors Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Secundam Lucam [Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St. Luke] became one of the few modernist works to become genuinely popular with the musical public. Why? Well…

Course materials:

More on modes

plus those (useful!) hardy perennials:

Cycle of 5ths

Keyboard graphic 2 octaves

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