Experimental Composer Krzysztof Penderecki Heard In “Twin Peaks,” “Wild At Heart” And “The Shining” Dies At 86

From as soon as he started making films, David Lynch found inspiration in Penderecki’s music

Avant-garde composer and conductor Krzysztof Penderecki passed away on Sunday, March 29, 2020. He was 86.

The Hollywood Reporter reports Penderecki died of a ‘long and serious illness’ not associated with the new coronavirus, although his caregiver was diagnosed with COVID-19. The composer won the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at last year’s World Soundtrack Awards, and was still active until he recently had to cancel two performances in Zürich due to his illness.

Most of us were introduced to Penderecki’s music through Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980), which features six of his compositions, and four works by David Lynch from an early short in 1967 to Twin Peaks: The Return in 2017.

  • Capriccio for Violin and Orchestra in Absurd Encounter with Fear (1967)
  • Kosmogonia in Wild at Heart (1990)
  • Fluorescences for Orchestra, De Natura Sonoris I, De Natura Sonoris II, Polymorphia, Als Jakob Erwachte, and Anaklasis für Streicher und Schlagzeug in Inland Empire (2006)
  • Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima in Twin Peaks: The Return (2017)

In the minds of Twin Peaks fans, Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima will forever be associated with the black-and-white CGI dramatization of the Trinity Test generally interpreted as ‘the birth of evil,’ but Penderecki did not compose the piece with an atomic bomb in mind. It was originally titled 8’37” (its exact length) as an homage to John Cage’s 4’33”. When the composer first heard an actual performance of his work featuring 52 string instruments (24 violins, 10 violas, 10 cellos and 8 basses), he was so struck by its emotional charge that he decided to dedicate it to the Hiroshima victims.

“Capriccio for Violin and Orchestra” in David Lynch’s Absurd Encounter with Fear (1967)

“Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima” in Twin Peaks: The Return Part 8

Krzysztof Penderecki: Turning history into avant-garde

Animated Score for “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima”

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Written by Pieter Dom

Founder and curator of Welcome to Twin Peaks since 2011. Bobsessed since March 1991.

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