Polish composer Penderecki, who was inspired by Jerusalem, dies age 86

The world-renowned composer and conductor was hailed for such brilliant works as 'Saint Luke Passion’ and ‘The Seven Gates of Jerusalem.’

Krzysztof Penderecki conducting in Argentina  (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Krzysztof Penderecki conducting in Argentina
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Polish composer and conductor Krzysztof Penderecki died at his home in Krakow on Saturday. He was 86.
Widely regarded as one of the great musical geniuses of our time, Penderecki was famous for Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima (1960), Saint Luke Passion (1966) and his massively important Polish Requiem (1984).
Penderecki kept returning to this composition, which was originally commissioned by the Solidarity movement that eventually replaced the Socialist Republic of Poland with the current democratic system.
Inspired by the rich musical heritage of Christian sacred music, as well as Polish history and reality, he revised the work regularly until he completed the final version in 2005. 
When Penderecki was 80 years old, he visited Israel to conduct Polish Requiem as part of a world tour.
The Polish Requiem was, in the context of that historical moment, both a rejection of the fashion of innovative contemporary Western music and of the atheist ideals promoted by the socialist world view.     
Penderecki had many admirers in Israel, and was asked in 1996 to compose Seven Gates of Jerusalem to honor Israel's capital.


The finished symphony was performed in Jerusalem the following year. 
Movie-lovers from around the world heard his music on films such as The Exorcist (1973),The Shining (1980), and Wild at Heart (1990).
Penderecki himself always spoke about his joy at being loved by the larger public and not confined to the slightly obscure realm of modern composers.
Among his many awards was the Wolf Prize, given by Israel to artists and scientists for their "achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among people.”