Marta Ptaszyńska, one of the most important personalities in Polish contemporary music, is also one of the best known Polish composers in the world. Her music is closely connected with her visual-artistic imagination, her ability for synaesthesia, or the perception of musical phenomena in visual terms. In many pieces the composer’s fascination with different cultures, especially oriental art and Zen philosophy is revealed.
Marta Ptaszyńska’s compositions are performed at many prestigious international festivals, such as Das Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, The ISCM World Music Festival, Die Salzburger Festspiele, The Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Prix Europa in Berlin, Warsaw Autumn and Wratislavia Cantans. She has received many commissions from great orchestras and institutions, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Südwestrundfunk and the BBC.
She has won many composition competitions, and has also received the UNESCO prize in Paris for La novella d’inverno (1986), the Fromm Music Foundation Award from Harvard University (2006), the Polish Composers’ Union Award in 2011 for outstanding work as a composer and promotion of Polish musical culture in the world and the Benjamin H. Danks Award (2006), awarded by the American Academy of Arts and Letters for her outstanding achievements in the field of large musical forms − symphonies, operas and oratorios, the Alfred Jurzykowski Foundation Award in New York (1997) and many others. In 2010 she received a scholarship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, in 1995, she was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Polish Republic.
Tadeusz Andrzej Zieliński wrote “In Marta Ptaszyńska’s art modernity and tradition are not contradictory categories but woven together in a natural way. Regardless of the new ways of shaping the course of music, in her works you can see some misty outlines of early forms. Despite the modern, avant-garde tendencies in treatment of sound, the artist does not resign herself from melodic statements. But it is worth emphasising, above all, that the author of the Sonnets to Orpheus continues the aesthetic tradition of Polish music, creating a style where you can find elements of spiritual kinship with our great artists: Chopin, Karłowicz and Szymanowski.”
photo by Andrzej Jaworski