Composer Krzysztof Penderecki, whose music appeared in 'The Shining', dies at 86

Ben Arnold
·2-min read
KRAKOW, POLAND - 2018/05/30: Polish Composer and Grammy Winner, Krzysztof Penderecki attends a press conference during the 11st Film Music Festival in Krakow. (Photo by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Krzysztof Penderecki (Credit: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Krzysztof Penderecki, the visionary composer whose music was used in film scores from The Shining to The Exorcist, has died at the age of 86.

He had been suffering a long illness, his family confirmed, and died at his home in Krakow yesterday.

Born in Poland in 1933, Penderecki began composing in the 1960s, producing complex and avant-garde symphonies, operas and concertos.

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Famously, his String Quartet and Kanon For Orchestra and Tape, his Cello Concerto and The Devils of Loudun all appeared in William Friedkin's benchmark horror movie The Exorcist in 1973.

Kubrick's The Shining also featured several of his pieces, including the terrifying Polymorphia, composed for 48 string instruments.

(GERMANY OUT) Penderecki, Krzysztof *23.11.1933-Komponist, Dirigent, PL- als Dirigent bei einer Probe zu einemKonzert im Konzerthaus Berlin (Photo by Archie Kent/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Penderecki at the Konzerthaus Berlin (Credit: Archie Kent/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Filmmaker David Lynch was also a fan of Penderecki's work.

His music featured in Lynch movies including Wild At Heart and 2006's Inland Empire, as well as the 2017 series of Twin Peaks.

Penderecki's Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima also appeared in Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men, while Scorsese used his Symphony No. 3 and Fluorescences in 2010 psychological thriller Shutter Island.

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Latterly, he collaborated with Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood, who cited Penderecki as a huge influence in his compositions (Greenwood has made similarly unsettling soundtracks for movies including There Will Be Blood and The Phantom Stitch).

Tweeting yesterday, he said: “What sad news to wake to. Penderecki was the greatest - a fiercely creative composer, and a gentle, warm-hearted man.

“My condolences to his family, and to Poland on this huge loss to the musical world.”