Zbigniew Rudziński

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Zbigniew Rudziński. photo by Andrzej Zborski / East News

Zbigniew Rudziński (born 23-10-1935) is a Polish composer and pedagogue. He is a professor at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw.


Zbigniew Rudziński was born on 23rd October, 1935 in Czechowice, near Warsaw. He first learned piano from private tutors and later, in 1949-56, at the State Music School in Warsaw. In 1952-53, he studied English Philology at the University of Warsaw. From 1956 to 1960, he undertook composition studies in the class of Piotr Perkowski at the State Higher School of Music in Warsaw (he received a diploma with distinction in 1962). In 1965-66, thanks to a scholarship from the French government, he continued music education in Paris under Nadia Boulanger, while in 1970-71, he stayed in the Netherlands as a grantee of the Dutch government.

His works have been performed in Poland and abroad, for instance in Prague, London, Stockholm, Helsinki, Bonn, Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Paris, Jerusalem, and Seoul. His composition works have been released on a six album box set (Warsaw, 2001). Scores of Rudziński’s works are published in Warsaw by Polish Music Publishing House (PWM) and Authors' Agency (Agencja Autorska), in Munich by Schott Verlag, Edition Modern, and in Celle (Moeck Verlag).

Jacek Marczyński wrote the following about the world premiere of Zbigniew Rudziński’s opera Antigone in Rzeczpospolita (2001): The composition is titled Antigone, and it was written by Zbigniew Rudziński, the same person who wrote Mannequins, based on Bruno Schulz’s prose. It is one of the biggest contemporary theatre hits. Mannequins has remained part of the repertoire at the National Opera for two decades, it was staged over 170 times, and also shown on several European stages. This time around, Zbigniew Rudziński reached for a drama by Sophocles. And even though in his libretto he remained faithful to the original, he offered his own interpretation of it. Unlike other interpretations of this tragedy, he did not focus on an individual’s rebellion against callous authorities, but was rather interested in psychological portraits of the two protagonists […]. Equally rich and varied is the music layer of Rudziński’s work, with the dramatic orchestral part. In the precisely constructed solo scenes, which did not so much resemble classical arias, but monologues from great music dramas, the composer demonstrated a wonderful sensitivity to the words, to which he subordinated the melody. They were also excellently contrasted with dynamic choral fragments. Antigone, which was commissioned by the Warsaw Chamber Opera is a powerful work whose musical momentum blows up the tiny stage of the capital’s theatre.

In 1962-68, Zbigniew Rudziński held the function of director of the music department at the Warsaw Documentary Film Studio. Since 1973, he has taught composition at the Warsaw Academy of Music (from 1975 – as an associate professor, and from 1989 – as a professor). In 1980-81, he was also a dean of the Faculty of Composition, while in 1981-84, he was a vice-rector of the Warsaw university. He has given lectures at the International Conference on New Musical Notation at State University Ghent in Belgium (1974), International Seminar for Composers in Ohrid, Yugoslavia (1975), International Summer Composition Courses (1977 – Venice, 1978 – Olsztyn, 1979 – Kazimierz), Internationales Jugend Festspieltreffen in Bayreuth, Germany (1983-89), Sibelius Academy of Music in Helsinki (1987), Royal Academy of Music in London (1990), and Keimyung University in Daegu, South Korea (1993, 1996, 2000-2005).

In 1962, he joined the Polish Composers' Union. In 1968-80, he was a member of its Board of Directors, in 1981-82, the treasurer, and in 1985-86 – the general secretary of the union. Between 1983 and 1989, he was the director of the Composer's Workshop in Bayreuth.

In recognition of his achievements in composition, Zbigniew Rudziński has received many awards, including:

  • 1960 – award at the Composition Contest organised on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Warsaw Conservatory for Sonata for 2 string quartets, piano and timpani (1960)
  • 1962 – second prize (first wasn’t awarded) at theYoung Composers' Competition of the Polish Composers' Union for Epigrams for flute, choir and percussion (1962)
  • 1975 - Silver Cross of Merit (1975)
  • 1979 and 1985 - Award of the Ministry of Culture and Art for achievements in pedagogy
  • 1986 - the Prime Minister’s Award for works for children and youth.
  • 1988 – award at Neue Musiktheater-Werkstatt in Berlin for the opera Mannequins (1981)
  • 1991 – Award of the Polish Composers' Union.


  • Four folk songs for soprano and piano (1955)
  • Triofor two clarinets and bassoon (1958)
  • Sonata for clarinet and piano (1959)
  • Sonata for 2 string quartets, piano and timpani (1960)
  • Four songs for baritone and chamber ensemble (1960-61)
  • Epigrams for flute, 2 female choirs and percussion (1962)
  • Contra fidem na orkiestrę symfoniczną (1963-64)
  • String trio (1964)
  • Studyfor c for any instrumental group (1964)
  • Moments musicaux I for symphony orchestra (1965)
  • Impromptu for 2 pianos, 3 cellos and percussion (1966)
  • Moments musicaux II for symphony orchestra (1967)
  • Moments musicaux III for symphony orchestra (1968)
  • Three songs for tenor and 2 pianos (1968)
  • Kwartet for 2 pianos and percussion (1969)
  • Symphony for male choir and orchestra(1969)
  • Music by night for small orchestra(1970)
  • Requiem for war victims [version I] for reciter, choir and orchestra (1971)
  • Requiem for war victims [version II] for choir and orchestra (1971)
  • Tutti e solo for soprano, flute, french horn and piano (1973)
  • Sonata for piano (1975)
  • Drop...drop...drop..., thirteen songs for children for vocals with piano (1975-80)
  • Campanella for percussion ensemble (1977)
  • Tritones for percussion ensemble (1979-80)
  • Manekiny, opera (1981)
  • Strings in the Earth for soprano and string orchestra (1982)
  • The book of hours, five romantic songs for mezzosoprano and piano trio (1983-84)
  • These are not dreams, six songs for mezzosoprano and piano (1987)
  • Polish Suite for eight female voices (or a female choir) and piano (1990)
  • Three Romantic Portraits for twelve saxophones (1991)
  • Listen… for soprano and piano (1993)
  • Antigone, opera (2001)

Text adapted from Author: Małgorzata Kosińska, Polish Music Information Centre, Polish Composers' Union, May 2002; update: October 2016, AG, transl. AM, December 2016.