Magazine August 24, 2020, Issue

A Composer Who Matters

Krzysztof Penderecki in 1987 (Ullstein Bild / Getty Images)
On the late Krzysztof Penderecki (1933–2020)

Over the years, I have interviewed many musicians, most of them performers, with a few composers sprinkled in. (On rare occasions, the interviewee is both: both performer and composer. “He rolls his own,” I often say of such a person.) One of my usual questions is, “Are there living composers you admire?” Lowering the bar, I might say, “Are there composers today you consider worth hearing?”

A composer friend of mine hates it when I ask this question, understandably. Yet a great many people ignore contemporary music, leaving it undiscussed. At least I’m not guilty of that.

I have received various answers

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