Józef Patkowski

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Józef Patkowski, Warsaw, September 1970, Warsaw Autumn Festival, photo: Slawek Bieganski / FORUM

Józef Patkowski was a Polish musicologist, composer and creator of the Experimental Studio of the Polish Radio. He was born on the 15th of November 1929, and died on the 26th of October 2005 in Warsaw.


At the Academy

In 1953 he graduated from the Faculty of Musicology at the Warsaw University under Professor Zofia Lissa. Because he simultaneously studied physics, he wrote a thesis on the topic of the ‘Importance of Acoustic Regularities in Musicological Research’. Between 1954 and 1957 he was a musical advisor for the Polish Radio Theatre and in 1955-79 he advised the Documentaries Production Studio in Warsaw.

From 1952, he taught acoustic and electroacoustic technology as well as the aesthetics of 20th century music. During 1952-1972, he worked as an assistant at the University of Warsaw, where, in 1974, he was promoted to the post of senior instructor and eventually became a docent in 1995. Between 1992 and 2000, he gave lectures at the Academy of Music in Katowice and from 1995 to 2000 he was an associate professor at the Academy of Music in Kraków.

Experimental Studio and Electronic Music Studio

On 15th of November 1957, his birthday, he founded the Experimental Studio of the Polish Radio. He remained its director until 1985. In 1974, he founded the Electronic Music Studio at the Academy of Music in Kraków, which he directed until 2000.

"The Experimental Studio of the Polish Radio was meant to work as a specific musical instrument - a laboratory of sound. All the devices, machines and the sound engineers who operated them were a sort of database which was offered to a composer for them to crystallise and realize their creative ideas – said Józef Patkowski – I don’t think that there is any other studio like this one in the world. Among the founding members as well as in the management team there were no composers, just highly qualified sound engineers and device constructors. " (Ruch Muzyczny, 1987)

In the beginning of the 1960s, together with a group of musicians – Zygmunt Krauze, Tomasz Sikorski, Zbigniew Rudziński and John Tilbury - he initiated and organised a series of avant-garde music concerts entitled Musical Workshop. Between 1959 and 1969 he produced a series of radio programmes about contemporary music - Horizons of Music.

He gave numerous lectures about electroacoustic music and Polish contemporary classical music. During 1969-70 he was a visiting professor at the Centre for Advanced Study at the University of Illinois in Urbana–Champaign, US, and in 1979 at the Technische Universität in West Berlin. He chaired the juries of some of the most prestigious music contests all over the world such as in Bourges' Concours International de Musique et d'Art Sonore Electroacoustiques and Stockholm.

Warsaw Autumn

Between 1960 and 2000, he was a member of Programme Board of the International Contemporary Music Festival Warsaw Autumn. In 1979-85 he was a chairman of Polish Composers’ Union and in 1985-96 he was the General Secretary of the Polish Music Council to UNESCO. He was also a chairman of the Karol Szymanowski Music Society. In the 1960s, together with Krzysztof Szlifirski, he created music for feature film, impressionistic documentaries and theatre plays.

Major Awards

  • Honorary membership of Polish Composers Union
  • Honorary membership of Polish Society of Contemporary Music
  • Honorary membership of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Elektroakustische Musik
  • Golden Cross of Merit
  • Commander’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta
  • Officer’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta
  • Ministry of Culture and National Heritage Award

Significant Works

  • Film score for Nad Tatrami dir. Jerzego Kadena (1963)
  • Film score for Stacja Oświęcim dir. Marii Kwiatkowskiej (1963)
  • Film score for Rozmowa dir. Marii Kwiatkowskiej (1964)
  • Film score for Pojedynek dir. Janusza Majewskiego (1964)
  • Film score for Światło i dźwięk dir. Marii Kwiatkowskiej (1965)
  • Film score for Sposób bycia dir. Jana Rybkowskiego (1965)
  • Film score for Niebo bez słońca dir. Jana Rybkowskiego (1966)
  • Theatre Play Music Radosne dni Samuela Becketta dir. Jerzego Markuszewskiego (1967)
  • Film score for Czas przemiany dir. Andrzeja Piekutowskiego (1968)
  • Animated Film score for Ludzie dir. Krzysztofa Raynocha (1969)


  • O muzyce elektronowej i konkretnej, Muzyka 1956 nr 3
  • Z zagadnień muzyki eksperymentalnej, Muzyka 1958 nr 4
  • Horyzonty muzyki, w: Biblioteka Res Facta, Kraków 1970

Source:, January 2006, Translated by W.O., March 2014. Here adapted from