Krzysztof Eugeniusz Penderecki (/ˈkʃɪʃtɒf ˌpɛndəˈrɛtski/; Polish: [ˈkʂɨʂtɔf ɛuˈɡɛɲuʂ pɛndɛˈrɛt͡skʲi]; born 23 November 1933) is a Polish composer and conductor. The Guardian has called him Poland's greatest living composer. Among his best known works are his Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, St. Luke Passion, Polish Requiem, Anaklasis, four operas, eight symphonies and other orchestral pieces, a variety of instrumental concertos, choral settings of mainly religious texts, as well as chamber and instrumental works.
Born in Dębica to a lawyer, Penderecki studied music at Jagiellonian University and the Academy of Music in Kraków. After graduating from the Academy of Music, Penderecki became a teacher at the academy and he began his career as a composer in 1959 during the Warsaw Autumn festival. His Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima for string orchestra and the choral work St. Luke Passion, have received popular acclaim. His first opera, The Devils of Loudun, was not immediately successful. Beginning in the mid-1970s, Penderecki's composing style changed, with his first violin concerto focusing on the semitone and the tritone. His choral work Polish Requiem was written in the 1980s, with Penderecki expanding it in 1993 and 2005.
During his life, Penderecki has won several prestigious awards, including the Commander's Cross in 1964, the Prix Italia in 1967 and 1968, the Knight's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta in 1964, three Grammy Awards in 1987, 1998 and 2001, and the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition in 1992.