Dear Guests,

The music of Krzysztof Penderecki became an inspiration for the idea of the competition, which has become a great space for exchanging views and experiences related to discovering meanings in music. Experiencing new pieces of music improves the knowledge of the culture of a given country and thus develops the personality, enriching it with new spiritual values. All the young artists taking part in the preparations for the competition have already succeeded, by exploring new areas of the most perfect of all arts – music.

I wish all Candidates who will have honored us with their presence, to make their stay in our beautiful city unforgettable experience which will remain in their memory for a long time. I hope that participation in the 4th International Krzysztof Penderecki Cello Competition will become a strong impulse to the development of their artistic careers.

prof. dr hab. Zdzisław Łapiński
Chairman of the Competition Jury

The Krzysztof Penderecki Academy of Music in Krakow keeps cultivating the memory of its Patron, for example through organizing the Krzysztof Penderecki International Cello Competition every 5 years celebrating the round anniversaries of the Master’s birth, and in Krakow, which is the city where he lived and created. The composer’s favourite instrument, for which he had a particular fondness, was cello. We are convinced that this year’s fourth edition of the Competition will become a real celebration of cello music. We believe it will attract to Krakow talents from all over the world, bring the participants many unforgettable experiences, and open doors to further great artistic careers.

Prof. dr hab. Wojciech Widłak
Rector of the Krzysztof Penderecki Academy of Music in Krakow

Honorary Patronage
of the President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda

The Orchestra of the Capital Royal City of Krakow Sinfonietta Cracovia is a co-organizer of the competition.

PKN ORLEN is a patron of the competition.

I am glad that Sinfonietta Cracovia has joined the Organizers of the competition. All in all, our Orchestra is famous for interpreting the works of Krzysztof Penderecki, the mentor and patron of many Sinfonietta undertakings. We refer to the 90th anniversary of Krzysztof Penderecki’s birth by the Master international concert tour, co-organized by the prestigious Harrison Parrot agency. I feel that our involvement in the living memory of him and in projects where Penderecki’s music meets new generations is especially important now. The involvement of Sinfonietta Cracovia in the cello competition named after him is an excellent complement to our activities and opens the way to strategic cooperation between the Academy of Music and the city orchestra.

Agata Grabowiecka
Director of the Orchestra of the Capital Royal City of Krakow Sinfonietta Cracovia

The patronage of culture is a very important part of ORLEN’s social commitment. For years we have supported many institutions, including The Grand Theater – National Opera, the Fryderyk Chopin Institute and the National Museum in Warsaw. We are constantly looking for new, interesting initiatives that fit into our sponsorship goals. The Krzysztof Penderecki International Cello Competition is the kind of project we are looking for. The event has a huge marketing potential – promoting not only the music of its eminent patron, but of the entire Polish culture. The competition discovers new musical talents and provides the most talented participants with a good start to an international career. I hope that this year’s edition will prove to be particularly successful in this regard, providing unique emotions not only to the performers and members of the jury, but also to music lovers from around the world.

Daniel Obajtek
President of the Management Board of ORLEN SA.

Krzysztof Penderecki

The era of Krzysztof Penderecki

Krzysztof Penderecki (1933–2020) – a composer, conductor, pedagogue, and humanist. A major figure in the field of high musical culture in the second half of the 20th and first decades of the 21st century. His music – ranging from sonoristic works, in which he proposed new types of sound and innovative ways of notation – operas and musical dramas, instrumental concertos and monumental symphonies – right through to chamber works, in which he fashioned the idea of claritas – changed the face of world music and entered the canon of the arts for good. He was the winner of 146 awards and distinctions, the recipient of honorary doctorates from 39 universities, a professor and rector of the Academy of Music in Kraków (from 1972 until 1987), the founder of the Krzysztof Penderecki European Centre for Music and the creator of a unique arboretum in Lusławice. Since January 2022, the Academy of Music in Kraków has born the name of this artist, who, during the years of the Iron Curtain, provided the institution with a protective political and ethical “umbrella”.

●       Compositional strategy: surprising

“[…] Penderecki surprises. He inspires delight in some, and consternation in others. At the same time, he is a master of finding alibis for his actions,”* so writes Mieczyslaw Tomaszewski, one of the exegetes of the music of the composer of Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima. Tomaszewski included these words in the introduction to the seven-volume series Twórczość Krzysztofa Pendereckiego. Od genezy do rezonansu (Krzysztof Penderecki’s Oeuvre. From Genesis to Resonance), which features the contributions of various authors on the phenomenon of this composer – his ideas and music (Academy of Music in Kraków, 2008–2013). The composer of Polymorphia (1961) adopted a path that led from rebellion against the established canon of the art of sound towards a reinterpretation of tradition itself; from being at the helm of the avant-garde to reinterpreting anew the legacy of Romanticism. At a gathering held in the Academy of Music in Kraków in 2018 (organised as part of the “Masters and Students” series), shortly before his 85th birthday, Professor Penderecki confessed: “Actually, I have been a rebel all my life.” And he recalled his well-known declaration: “A true accomplishment is to be and remain oneself.” It is worth recalling that during the communist era, the composer took up “unwelcome” subjects, especially those related to the sphere of the sacred. In the monumental Te Deum (1980), the chorus’ quotation of the hymn Boże, coś Polskę (God Thou Hast Poland), including the phrase Ojczyznę wolną, racz nam wrócić, Panie (Free homeland, may you return to us, O Lord), was perceived as a manifesto of freedom. As early as in the 1960s and 1970s, the composer of St Luke Passion (1966) was perceived in Western Europe as the most prominent composer of “freedom” living behind the Iron Curtain. Critics emphasised the fact that Krzysztof Penderecki was – the first since the times of Fryderyk Chopin – the nation’s most “political” composer, conveying the notion of a free Poland through the sounds he created.

●       From the idea of dialogue

Penderecki’s aesthetic stance was based on the idea of dialogue – an encounter between different values. The monumental diptych Utrenja (1970–71), originated from the idea of ecumenism and cultural dialogic: a representative of the “West” reaching out towards the people of the “East” in a gesture of reconciliation. The idea of dialogue also gave rise to, among other things, Song of the Cherubim (1986) and Kaddish (2009) – the latter work born in the painful memory of the Holocaust and a warning to future generations to “remember”. The composer of, inter alia, Sextet (2000) and Concerto grosso for three cellos and symphony orchestra (2001) used to say of himself that he was a “hybrid”: his family came from the borderlands. His grandmother on his father’s side was of Armenian descent, while his grandfather was a Polonized German. “My home lies in Mediterranean culture, created from the fusion of different worlds,” so confessed the composer of Paradise Lost (1976–78) and Credo (1997–98). This may explain the dialogue between tradition and modernity, or between Western rationality (thinking in terms of a preconceived form) and Eastern emotionality (where intense expression occupies the foreground) present in his music. For the composer of Paradise Lost, the art of sound was a message intended for the listener. It was not supposed to leave them indifferent to the subjects it addressed, or to the emotional temperature of these topics; rather it should stimulate the imagination and provoke thought – all this in order to participate in the consciously induced affect and effect.  

●       Nature and Culture 

Krzysztof Penderecki liked to use the metaphors of the labyrinth and the tree. “Every creative endeavour is a quest, and constant wandering becomes more important than finding the way,” he claimed. He wanted his compositions to be such “questing” works, rooted, like a tree, both in the earth and in heaven. Regina Chłopicka gave a telling title to her book: Krzysztof Penderecki między sacrum a profanum (Krzysztof Penderecki Between the Sacred and the Profane) (2000). “Both are tempting for me,” the composer explained perversely. He manifested this attitude, among other things, in his operas: we need only juxtapose the dramatic Black Mask (1984–86), which is a vision of the all-engulfing danse macabre, with the “clownish-pataphysical” Ubu Rex (1991), in which the composer, without quoting in crudo, parodies styles well-established in the history of musical theatre.

●       In the circle of significant subjects. Being committed here and now  

In his musical culture, Penderecki tackled significant subjects which concerned the entire human being, and thus involved himself, in a truly committed way, in the affairs of the human condition and the world. He was faithful to the principle that an artist could not be indifferent to what was happening around him. In Polish Requiem (1980–2005) he created sounds that portrayed the difficult history of his nation, and thus proved that one could still weave a great narrative even in modern times. Penderecki’s creative path was not devoid of turning points, which some people found surprising. When he wrote his St Luke Passion (1966), in which he measured himself against the Bachian genre, they said that he had betrayed the avant-garde which he had previously helped create. Later on, Penderecki – at home with the extensive symphonic form – became a sensitive lyricist, finding inspiration in textures as transparent as unbroken water, as in his moving Quartet for Clarinet and String Trio (1993), which epitomises his spiritually domesticating music.

●       A master of drama

The composer of Symphony No. 8 “Lieder der Vergänglichkeit” (2007), a symphony dedicated to his beloved trees, believed that designing a composition was like composing a garden space. It suffices to look at the composer’s colourful sketches – constructs of his first compositional ideas, which reveal the logic of a work’s preconceived plan. Penderecki thought of his works in terms of a whole, a process of tension and relaxation, a consistent pursuit of powerful, expressive climaxes. For his cycle A Sea of Dreams Did Breathe on Me. Songs of Reverie and Nostalgia (2010), he made a conscious selection of texts taken from more than several hundred works by Polish poets, which he had previously studied in detail, even though he believed that his native language was not as melodious as, for example, German. At the heart of this cycle, he placed a famous passus from a poem by Cyprian Kamil Norwid: “I was with you in those penultimate days…”, a work deeply rooted in the Polish collective emotional memory.        

●       The spiritual dimension of music

In our “overstimulating” reality, Krzysztof Penderecki appealed to us to listen attentively to our inner worlds. It is impossible to ignore the spiritual dimension of his work. Well-known are his words which revealed the foundations of his creative outlook and artist’s ethos, namely that his music stemmed from deeply Christian roots and sought to rebuild the metaphysical space that had been shattered by the cataclysms of the 20th-century. He also emphasised the fact that from the very beginning, he wrote his own music, thereby creating a language with which – like a rhetor – he could communicate with his audience by appealing to the latter’s emotional cultural memory. He spoke of a need for synthesis as a cure for the nagging feeling that the world was falling apart. With his death on 29 March 2020 an era died too. It was, to a significant extent, the era of Krzysztof Penderecki, who saved the idea of thinking about music in terms of values.  

Małgorzata Janicka-Słysz

* M. Tomaszewski, Penderecki in: Twórczość Krzysztofa Pendereckiego. Od genezy do rezonansu. Interpretations edited by Mieczysław Tomaszewski, volume I – Początki i mocne wejście, Academy of Music in Kraków, Kraków 2008, p. 11.


Date of the Competition

The Competition will be held between November 26 and December 4, 2023 in Krakow.

Jury of the Competition

The Jury, with Elżbieta Penderecka as the honorary head, will consist of outstanding Polish and foreign cellists.

Professor Zdzisław Łapiński will preside over the Jury.

Members of the Jury

The Jury works according to separately drawn up regulations, approved by the members of the Jury. The decisions of the Jury are final, irrevocable and non-appealable.

Conditions of Participation

The 4th International Krzysztof Penderecki Cello Competition, Krakow 2023 is open to cellists who are 16–30 years old (that is, born in 1993 and no later than in 2007).

To apply for the Competition Candidates must:

A. Upload via registration panel available at by August 31st, 2023 the following documentation:

1. Completed Registration Form.

2. A video recording of:
Johann Sebastian Bach Prelude from the suite for cello solo;
Ludwig van Beethoven First movement (Allegro, ma non tanto) from Cello Sonata No.3 in A major op.69;
Krzysztof Penderecki Aria from Suite for cello solo.

3. A photograph of the Candidate in electronic format.

4. The Candidate’s artistic curriculum vitae in Polish or English in electronic format.

5. An entry fee in the amount of 100 PLN (applies to all participants of the elimination round), which should be sent exclusively to the account:

Bank Pekao S.A. III O/Kraków
41 1240 2294 1111 0000 3708 8240

B. The Candidates are obliged to confirm their intention to participate in the Competition and pay a fee in the amount of 400 PLN by November 10, 2023.

The fee applies only to the participants admitted to the Competition.

C. Candidates are obliged to be present at the drawing of lots determining the order of performance, which will be held on November 26, 2023, with a valid document confirming their identity and date of birth.

D. Candidates give consent to the dissemination of their image related to their participation in the Competition, in particular through the use of photographs.

E. Participation in the Competition is tantamount to accepting these Rules of the Competition.

Admission Rules

1. On the basis of the submitted Registration Forms and video recordings, admission to the Competition will be given to a maximum of 45 Competitors. The Competitors will be selected by a Committee appointed by the Organizers. The Organizers will notify all Candidates of the decision of the Committee no later than on September 15, 2023. The decisions of the Committee cannot be questioned. Hence, the Organizers of the Competition are not obliged to provide any explanation.

2. A maximum of 12 Competitors will be accepted to the second round.

3. A maximum of 4 Competitors will be accepted to the third round

Programme requirements

The Competition consists of three rounds.


In the first round, the Competitor must perform the following works from memory:

1. Krzysztof PendereckiPer Slava or Violoncello totale

2. Recital lasting about 20 min.
a. should include works only for cello solo
b. should include at least one work by J. S. Bach or M. Reger
c. movements from sonatas and larger works can be performed


In the second round, the Competitor must perform the following works:

1. Krzysztof PendereckiSuite for cello solo (at least three movements)
(it is permitted to perform the work from the score)

2. Recital lasting about 40 min
a. must represent sufficient variety of style
b. movements from sonatas and larger works can be performed
(the program must be performed from memory)

The order of performance of the works shall be at the discretion of the Competitor.


In the third round, the Competitor must perform two concertos:

1. Krzysztof PendereckiConcerto per viola, versione per violoncello ed orchestra da camera1984 (Ed. Schott) (it is permitted to perform the work from the score)

2. One concerto chosen from among the four following:
Luigi Boccherini – Concerto in B flat major G.482
Joseph Haydn – Concerto in C major Hob VIIb:1
Joseph Haydn – Concerto in D major Hob. VIIb:2
Anton Kraft – Concerto in C major
(the concerto must be performed from memory)

The finalists will be accompanied by the Sinfonietta Cracovia Orchestra, conducted by Katarzyna Tomala-Jedynak.

Any changes to the Competitor’s repertoire sent after the application deadline will be accepted until no later than October 14, 2023.

Each change requires an approval of the Organizers of the Competition.


The Organizers of the Competition provide the Competitors of the second round with accompanists.

The Competitors have no right to question the accompanists provided by the Organizers of the Competition. The Competitors are permitted to come with their own accompanists. The Competitors cover their accompanists’ travel and accommodation expenses themselves.

Each Competitor will have a rehearsal of 90 minutes with an accompanist.

The Organizers will announce a detailed schedule of rehearsals with accompanists after the first round of the Competition.

Competitors accepted to the third round will have a rehearsal of 60 minutes with the orchestra.

Prize Winners

IV Krzysztof Penderecki International Cello Competition 2023

Final results

I prize – Vilém Vlček (Czech Republic)

II prize – Sang Hyeok Park (Republic of Korea)

III prize – Maria Salvatori (Italy)

IV prize – Cyprien Lengagne (France/Switzerland)

Special Prizes:

  • ORLEN S.A. Special Prize for the best Polish participant – Krzysztof Michalski
  • Elżbieta & Krzysztof Penderecki Special Prize for the best solo performance
    Cyprien Lengagne
  • Krzysztof Penderecki Special Prize for the best concerto performance
  • Concert with the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice
  • Concert with the Symphony Orchestra of the Oskar Kolberg Świętokrzyskie Philharmonic in Kielce
  • Concert with the Symphony Orchestra of the Feliks Nowowiejski Warmian-Masurian Philharmonic in Olsztyn
  • Concert with the Symphony Orchestra of the Karol Szymanowski Philharmonic in Krakow
    Vilém Vlček
  • Concert with the Symphony Orchestra of the National Forum of Music in Wrocław
  • Concert with the Symphony Orchestra of the Józef Wiłkomirski Sudeten Philharmonic in Wałbrzych
  • Concert with the Symphony Orchestra of the Artur Malawski Subcarpathian Philharmonic in Rzeszów
  • Concert with the Symphony Orchestra of the Gorzów Philharmonic
    Sang Hyeok Park
  • Concert with the Symphony Orchestra of the Lower Silesian Philharmonic in Jelenia Góra
  • Concert with the Symphony Orchestra of the Kalisz Philharmonic
    Maria Salvatori

III Krzysztof Penderecki International Cello Competition 2018

I prize              –          Hayoung Choi (Republic of Korea)

II prize             –          Francesco Stefanelli (San Marino)

III prize            –          Yang Kang (China)

IV prize           –          Bence Bankovi (Hungary)

Special prize for the best performance of K.Penderecki Concerto – Hayoung Choi

II Krzysztof Penderecki International Cello Competition 2013

I prize              –          Astrig   Siranossian (France)

II prize             –          Eun-Sun Hong (Republic of Korea)

III prize            –          Woong-Whee Moon (Republic of Korea)

Special prize for the best performance of K.Penderecki Concerto – Astrig Siranossian

Special prize for the best performance of K.Penderecki Suite – Edward Alexander King (New Zealand)

I Krzysztof Penderecki International Cello Competition 2008

I prize              –          Samuli Peltonen (Finland)

II prize             –          Wiktor Kociuban (Poland)

III prize            –          Magdalena Bojanowicz (Poland)

IV place           –          Liang Ning (China)



Department of Cello and Double Bass

Orchestra of the Capital Royal City of Krakow Sinfonietta Cracovia

Office of the Competition:

The 4th International Krzysztof Penderecki Cello Competition, Krakow 2023

The Krzysztof Penderecki Academy of Music in Krakow
ul. Świętego Tomasza 43, 31-027 Kraków, Poland
tel.: +48 12 422 44 00

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