Alphabet

  • A

    • Arbor cosmica

      One of Panufnik’s most important compositions. Its structure reflects that of a cosmic tree, a graphic image of which was included by the composer in the score in the form of a precise geometric diagram (see entry for Nature).

  • B

    • Boosey & Hawkes

      Since 1955 the exclusive publisher of Panufnik’s music. Boosey & Hawkes has also published Panufnik’s earlier compositions, originally issued by PWM Edition before his departure from Poland.

    • Boulanger, Nadia

      Composer and distinguished teacher of composition, with whom Polish composers had studied even before the war. Panufnik was never her student, but he and Boulanger were friends for many years. She thought highly of his music, and was godmother of Panufnik’s daughter Roxanna.

  • C

    • Camilla

      Camilla Jessel, Panufnik’s second wife. She surrounded him with love and care, creating a home full of warmth and ensuring ideal conditions for him to work. It was to Camilla that the composer dedicated most of his works composed after their wedding.

    • Composing Myself

      Panufnik’s autobiography, published in 1987 in London by Methuen. In it, the composer vividly describes his life in Poland and life as an émigré in England. It has also had two Polish editions (1990 and 2014).

  • D

    • Daimler

      Panufnik’s favourite car, a 75th-birthday present from his wife. Very elegant, bottle green with cream-coloured leather upholstery. The composer was very fond of it. After Panufnik’s death, his wife continued to use the car for many years (see also entry for Pipes).

    • Diagrams Panufnik used diagrams attached to his scores to present the structures of successive works he composed after 1968. The structures were usually inspired by geometric figures (circles illustrate Sinfonia di Sfere, Sinfonia Mistica and Sinfonia Votiva, with a spiral for Metasinfonia and a mandorla for Cello Concerto) and natural phenomena (a rainbow in Sinfonia di Speranza, a tree in Arbor Cosmica). The rainbow diagram from Sinfonia di Speranza was put on his grave by the composer’s family, as a symbol of hope (see entry below Symmetry).
  • E

    • Emotions

      The most important element of Panufnik’s music over the course of his career. Panufnik believed that only a combination of emotions and structural perfection could produce a true work of art. His music is full of varied emotions – never overexposed, but always kept in line by iron-like structural discipline.

    • Equilibrium

      Achieving an ideal equilibrium between feeling and intellect was one of Panufnik’s most important objectives as a composer. Formulated as an artistic creed as early as in 1952, this remained in force until the culmination of his work. This is why the composer whom Panufnik valued above anyone else was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (see entry above for Mozart).

  • F

  • G

    • Geometry

      From the 1970s, the most important source of inspiration for Panufnik. The composer sought clues for building his works in the shapes of geometric figures; geometry determined the formal structure of his compositions. Graphic diagrams, attached to the scores, became visual representations of successive pieces.

    • Great Britain

      Panufnik’s second homeland. His mother’s ancestors may have come from Britain, and he himself chose the country to be his home after illegally leaving Poland in 1954. He spent the second half of his life there (see entry for Poland).

  • H

    • Harmony

      Harmony in family life and harmonious development of his oeuvre – Panufnik managed to achieve both as a mature man thanks to his marriage to Camilla Jessel. Harmony is also the title of a work dedicated to his wife on their 25th wedding anniversary and reflecting the harmony of the Panufniks’ family life. It is also a very important element of the composer’s music – despite a lack of clear references to the tonal system, it brings warmth and a kind of nostalgia achieved thanks to the simultaneous use of major-minor chords.

  • I

    • Impulse and Design in my music

      Booklet published in 1974 by Panufnik’s publisher, Boosey & Hawkes. It contains analyses of the most important works the composer had written by the early 1970s, together with their formal diagrams (see entry above for Composing Myself).

    • Interval cell

      Panufnik’s sound language in the majority of his post-1968 compositions is based on an interval cell made up of the notes E, F and B. Its transpositions and transformations become the basis for new pieces. Despite the fact that the composer also used other cells or in later works combined this basic cell with quasi-tonal melodic lines, the E-F-B cell, comprising a minor second and a tritone, was the most important element shaping Panufnik’s music from the late 1960s onwards.

  • J

    • Jem (Jeremy)

      The composer’s only son. Born in 1969, today he is a renowned graphic artist and music producer. He used to work as a DJ and now produces animations and electronic music. In 2009, he was the narrator of the documentary My Father, the Iron Curtain and Me (dir. Krzysztof Rzączyński), devoted to his father (see also entry for Roxanna).

  • L

    • London Symphony Orchestra

      Outstanding London orchestra with which Panufnik closely collaborated. The collaboration produced three works commissioned by the LSO: Concerto Festivo, Concertino and Cello Concerto. The orchestra members still remember the composer, and his name has been given to an educational programme for young British composers run by the “Londoners”.

    • Lutosławski, Witold

      Panufnik’s friend from the Warsaw Conservatory. The two grew closer during the occupation years and their joint performances as a piano duo, which enabled the young composers to make a living. After the war, the friends went their separate ways and did not meet again until the 1980s. Each of them created his own musical language and each occupies a leading position in the history of Polish 20th-century music.

  • M

    • Menuhin, Yehudi

      Eminent violinist and friend of Panufnik. In 1972, he commissioned the composer to write a violin concerto. Panufnik wrote a piece that was a kind of journey to the land of his childhood. Violin Concerto is one of Panufnik’s most frequently performed compositions.

    • Mother, Matylda Thonnes

      His mother’s constant violin playing accompanied Panufnik from his earliest childhood, shaping the musical sensibility of the future composer. Unfulfilled as a violinist, Matylda may not have been a typical mother, but her influence on the development of her son’s musical interests is beyond doubt. She also supported him in his desire to study music and helped him get into the Warsaw Conservatory.

    • Mozart

      Panufnik’s “musical god number one”. The composer worshipped the superb balance of emotion and structure in Mozart’s works and felt an affinity with the symmetry in the Viennese master’s compositions. In Panufnik’s later years, Mozart’s works were the only ones he conducted, apart from his own pieces.

    • Mycielski, Zygmunt

      Outstanding editor, critic and composer, a remarkable figure in Polish musical life in the second half of the 20th century. He and Panufnik were close friends, sharing a similar musical sensibility. Evidence of this friendship can be found in several hundred letters that have survived to this day.

  • N

    • Nature

      The beauty of nature had considerable influence on Panufnik. He loved the environs of his house in Twickenham, and walks along the Thames River became his daily ritual. He also longed for the landscapes of Poland. Musical traces of his nature inspirations can be found in works including Landscape, Autumn Music and Arbor Cosmica.

  • O

    • Occupation (life during wartime)

      Panufnik spent the Second World War in Warsaw. In 1940, he and Witold Lutosławski founded a piano duo, performing in Warsaw art cafes until the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944. At that time, Panufnik wrote two important compositions: Five Polish Peasant Songs and Tragic Overture. It was also during this period that he wrote his famous Warsaw Children, a song that remains a symbol of the Warsaw Uprising.

  • P

    • Pipes

      Panufnik’s pipe collection was mentioned by Marcin Bogusławski, Witold Lutosławski’s stepson. He met Panufnik during the war, even before he met his future stepfather, and his main recollection was of an impressive set of pipes that the composer had. Panufnik occasionally smoked pipes all his life ( (see also entry for Daimler).

    • Poland

      Homeland. Despite accepting British citizenship, Panufnik remained a Polish composer till the end of his life. The works he composed as an émigré are full of references to Poland – in their titles and dedications, and also in their music, often imbued with a typically Polish atmosphere. Panufnik’s love for Poland was undoubtedly strengthened by his yearning for it, which is why the visit in 1990 to his now free homeland was so important to him (see entry above for Great Britain).

    • Polish Composers’ Union

      Founded in 1945. Panufnik witnessed the first few years of the Union’s activity and served as its vice president at the beginning of the 1950s. Removed from the list of its members immediately after his departure for England, in 1987 he was made an honorary member of the Union. In 1990, at the invitation of its governing body, he was a special guest at the Warsaw Autumn Festival.

  • R

    • Roxanna

      Beloved daughter. Born in 1968, she showed musical talent already as a child. Today she is a highly regarded composer but, unlike her father, she focuses mainly on vocal music (see also entry for Jem).

  • S

    • Scarlett

      Marie Elizabeth O’Mahoney, Panufnik’s first wife. An exceptionally beautiful Irish woman whom the composer met in 1950 in Obory near Warsaw as the writer Adolf Rudnicki’s newly wed wife, and whom he married one year later. The marriage was not successful from the very beginning, and although Scarlett helped her husband get out of Poland in 1954, the couple divorced five years later.

    • Socialist realism

      Politically motivated aesthetic doctrine imposed on Polish music and arts in the late 1940s. It dominated Polish music from the early 1950s, forcing composers to make a number of concessions in favour of a simplification of their musical language. The constraints of socialist realism as well as increasing political pressure led to a creative crisis in Panufnik’s life and, consequently, to his illegal departure from Poland in 1954.

    • Symmetry

      Extremely important element in Panufnik’s music. Symmetry of structure, often in the form of mirror images of phrases and sections, can be seen already in the composer’s first works. In his later pieces, it was enhanced by geometric inspirations. Symmetry and geometry are the most important elements of Panufnik’s compositional style (see entries above for Geometry and Emotions).

    • Symphony

      The most important musical form in Panufnik’s oeuvre. His cycle of ten symphonies, in which the composer convincingly gives this traditional form a modern interpretation, puts him among the greatest symphonists of the 20th century.

  • T

    • Twickenham

      Town near London where Panufnik moved in 1963 with his second wife, Camilla. Their house, rented for them as a wedding present by Camilla’s parents, required major renovations, but it was precisely there, in the Riverside House on the Thames, that Panufnik found a safe haven for the rest of his life. This was also where he composed, in a studio at the back of the garden and during his walks along the Thames.

  • U

    • Universal Prayer

      Important cantata in Panufnik’s oeuvre, with an ecumenical message. A work in which for the first time the composer used a strictly symmetrical formal structure combined with a musical language limited to the maximum and based on a three-note cell of E-F-B (see also Interval cell). The premiere of the work in 1970 in New York City was conducted by Leopold Stokowski, a great advocate of the composer’s music. It was also the first composition performed in Poland in 1977 after the ban on Panufnik’s works was lifted.

  • W

    • Warsaw Autumn

      Panufnik’s works began to appear in the programme of the most important Polish festival of contemporary music in 1977 – after the ban on their performances in Poland was lifted. The first work by Panufnik performed there was Universal Prayer, followed one year later by Sinfonia Sacra. In 1990, Panufnik accepted an invitation from the organizers and was a guest of honour at the festival's 33rd edition. Its programme featured performances of 11 of his compositions. This was the composer’s first and last visit to Poland since his departure in 1954.