Krzysztof Penderecki (born 1933) is a Polish composer and conductor. He was a member of the avant-garde music movement in the 1960's. The composition that brought him to international attention was Threnody : To The Victims of Hiroshima for 52 stringed instruments. He wrote the piece in 1960 as an exercise in writing for strings treated with unconventional scoring and performing techniques. He originally named the piece 8'37". But in Penderecki's own words, “[The piece] existed only in my imagination, in a somewhat abstract way. When Jan Krenz recorded it and I could listen to an actual performance, I was struck with the emotional charge of the work. I thought it would be a waste to condemn it to such anonymity, to those“digits”. I searched for associations and, in the end, I decided to dedicate it to the Hiroshima victims."
Penderecki has since moved away from the avant-garde into the realm of more traditional music with rich harmonies and compositions based on tonality. He does revert back to his avant-garde style to good effect within some of his more recent compositions.
Penderecki's Threnody To The Victims Of Hiroshima: