Symphony No. 1 (Penderecki)

The Symphony No. 1 by Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki was composed in 1973. It was published by Polish Music Publishing House and Schott Music[1] and has never been expanded or revised.[2]

Symphony No. 1
by Krzysztof Penderecki
Krzysztof Penderecki 20080706.jpg
The composer in 2008
Composed1973 (1973)
Performed19 July 1973 (1973-07-19), Peterborough Cathedral


The composition was commissioned by Perkins Engines, one of the best known gas engine manufacturers in Peterborough, as part of a series of Annual Industrial Concerts.[3] Penderecki started composing it in 1972. It would eventually premiere at Peterborough Cathedral on 19 July 1973, with the composer conducting the London Symphony Orchestra.[3][4] Three months after its world premiere, it was performed in the composer's own country, at the Warsaw Autumn Festival by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra under Witold Rowicki.[5]

By the time the composition was finished, Penderecki stated that "I was then attempting to make a reckoning of my two decades' worth of musical experience – a time of radical, avant-garde seeking. It was the summa of what I could say as an avant-garde artist",[4] claiming that the compositional style that he had been developing over the previous 15 years had reached its natural conclusion.[6]


The symphony consists of four continuous movements which take approximately 30 to 35 minutes to perform. This composition is scored for a large orchestra, consisting of 3 flutes (2 & 3 doubling piccolos), 3 oboes (3rd doubling cor anglais), 3 clarinets, bass clarinet, 3 bassoons (3rd doubling contrabassoon), 5 horns, 3 trumpets, 4 trombones, tuba, timpani, 5 percussionists playing 2 triangles, gong, 4 cymbals, 2 tam-tams, 6 tom-toms, 2 bongos, 2 congas, wooden drum, bass drum, woodblock, claves, ratchet, guiro, whip, vibraslap, 5 crotales, iron bar, 5 bells, glockenspiel, 5 Almglocken, harmonium, harp, celesta, piano and strings.[7] The movement list is as follows:[2]

  • I. Archi 1
  • II. Dynamis 1
  • III. Dynamis 2
  • IV. Archi 2


  1. ^ Bylander, Cindy (2004). Krzysztof Penderecki : a bio-bibliography. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc. ISBN 0-313-25658-6.
  2. ^ a b Penderecki, Krzysztof (1973). "1. Symphony – composer: Krzysztof Penderecki – für Orchester". Schott Music. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Avis, Peter (2007). Penderecki: Orchestral Works (Liner Notes). EMI Classics.
  4. ^ a b Morrison, Chris (2014). "Krzysztof Penderecki – Symphony No. 1". Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  5. ^ Polish Music Information Center (2014). "Symphony No. 1 – Krzysztof Penderecki". Adam Mickiewicz Institute. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  6. ^ Whitehouse, Richard (2000). 8.554567 – PENDERECKI, K.: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 5 (Polish National Radio Symphony, Wit) (Liner NOtes). Hong Kong: Naxos Digital Services. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
  7. ^ "1. Sinfonie".