Andrzej Panufnik (1914-1991)



Panufnik's promising early career in Warsaw was interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War, and he became more concerned with survival than composition.

With Donald Macleod.

Violin Concerto

Alexander Sitkovetsky (violin)

New European Strings Chamber Orchestra

Dmitry Sitkovetsky (conductor)

Sinfonia Sacra

Monte Carlo Opera Orchestra

Andrzej Panufnik (conductor)

Tragic Overture

London Symphony Orchestra

Jascha Horenstein (conductor)

Andrzej Panufnik (1914-1991)


Presented by Donald Macleod


Donald Macleod focuses on the difficult war years and the beginning of Panufnik's career.

Warsaw-born composer Andrzej Panufnik was just starting to make a name for himself as a composer when war broke out. During the Nazi occupation of the city, Panufnik wrote very little music other than resistance songs and a heartfelt overture full of the sounds of war. Afterwards, he slowly began to find work and his reputation as a composer and conductor grew. The Soviet-controlled government of the post-war years recognised his worth as a propaganda tool and he was frequently sent abroad as Poland's leading conductor and musical ambassador. Donald Macleod celebrates the life and music of Panufnik on the centenary of his birth and introduces music from the early years of his career including his wartime overture, a symphony at first celebrated and a year later condemned by the post-war communist government as bourgeois, and a lullaby which, like the symphony, was inspired by Polish traditional music.


Andrzej Panufnik (1914-1991)

2/5. As Poland came under Soviet control, Panufnik began to move to the centre of Polish musical life. But after a decade of suffocation under the new regime, he escaped to England in 1954 to make a new life. With Donald Macleod.

Circle of Fifths (extract - No 5 in Am)

Raymond Clarke (piano)

Nocturne for Orchestra

The Louisville Orchestra

Robert Whitney (conductor)

Sinfonia Rustica (Symphony No 1)

Monte Carlo Opera Orchestra

Andrzej Panufnik (conductor)

Heroic Overture

London Symphony Orchestra

Jascha Horenstein (conductor).

02From No 1 To No-one20140923

Donald Macleod introduces music from around the time of Panufnik's defection to Britain.

In communist Poland decadent Western art was denounced. Music had to be of political significance, created according to the principles of Socialist Realism. Panufnik was forced to become part of the propaganda machine, taking posts he didn't want and promoting a creed he despised. He was finally pushed a step too far and decided to defect to England. After a difficult start, work started to pick up with offers of conducting work and commissions slowly coming his way. Donald Macleod introduces music from this tumultuous period including a piece to mark the 100th anniversary of Chopin's death, an overture with a defiant but hidden anti-Soviet meaning, a symphony dedicated to the victims of the Second World War and part of a concerto prompted by the generous donation from a patron of the arts who wanted to help him start composing again.


Donald Macleod explores Panufnik's journey from Warsaw to Twickenham, through the works associated with his adopted home city, London.


BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Christopher Gayford (conductor)

Autumn Music

Anthony Peebles (piano)


Jascha Horenstein (conductor)

Song to the Virgin Mary

Choir of King's College

Stephen Cleobury (conductor)


Raymond Clarke (piano).


In 1961, after living in England for seven years, Panufnik was granted British citizenship. The year before he'd met Camilla Jessel - they were married three years later and settled beside the River Thames in Twickenham. Panufnik now found himself leading: "a kind of ideal existence I had only imagined, never experienced before in my life." In spite of his new-found contentment, Panufnik's thoughts were never very far away from his turbulent homeland of Poland. Donald Macleod introduces a work prompted by an event which took place there - a profound expression of Panufnik's feelings about one of the worst atrocities and biggest cover-ups in the war. Plus - a symphony based on the earliest known hymn in the Polish language, part of the violin concerto written for, and played by, Yehudi Menuhin, and one of Panufnik's rare choral works, written a few weeks after his marriage.

04In Exile *20060525

Panufnik never lost his spiritual connection to Poland, despite an absence of nearly 40 years. Donald Macleod looks at the works Panufnik wrote in England which look back to his native country.

3rd String Quartet - Wycinanki

Chilingirian String Quartet

Katyn Epitaph

London Symphony Orchestra

Andrzej Panufnik (conductor)

Bassoon concerto (extract: mvts 4 and 5 - Aria and Epilogo)

Robert Thompson (bassoon)

London Musici

Mark Stephenson (conductor)

Sinfonia Votiva

Boston Symphony Orchestra

Seiji Ozawa (conductor).


Donald Macleod focuses on works from the 1970s and 80s as Panufnik's popularity grew.

During the '70s and '80s commissions began to build up and, thanks to the enthusiasm and commitment of a handful of staunch supporters, there was an increase in commercial recordings of Panufnik's music which helped raise his profile. As both composer and conductor, Panufnik developed a close relationship with the London Symphony Orchestra who commissioned a number of pieces from him over the years, including a concertino for a percussion competition. Donald Macleod introduces a recording of the work in a performance by the LSO with Panufnik himself conducting, plus the second of his three strings quartets prompted by a childhood memory and some vocal pieces with close family associations.

05 LASTAn Ideal Existence *20060526

Donald Macleod concludes his survey of Panufnik's life by looking at his later works, written in the most peaceful and stable circumstances he'd ever known.

Arbor Cosmica (extract): Mvt XII

New York Chamber Symphony

Panufnik (conductor)

Concerto Festivo

London Symphony Orchestra


London Musici

Mark Stephenson (conductor)

Cello Concerto


Hugo Wolff (conductor).

05 LASTCelebrations, Honours And A Glorious Homecoming20140926

Donald Macleod introduces music from the last years of Panufnik's life.

Panufnik vowed he would never set foot in Poland until there was a democratically elected government in power. After nearly forty years in exile, he was able return one last time before his death. Donald Macleod introduces music leading up to that momentous occasion, including his third and final string quartet inspired by traditional Polish paper-cuts, a concerto profoundly influenced by the savage murder of Father Jerzy Popieluszko, and a piece dedicated, as so many of his works were, to his wife Camilla on their 25th wedding anniversary with the apt title 'Harmony'.