USC Monogram Polish Music Center Books



(b. 1947, Warsaw)

Biography List of Works Manuscripts at USC On String Quartet


Krzysztof Knittel, born on 1 May, 1947 in Warsaw, studied sound engineering and composition with Tadeusz Baird, Andrzej Dobrowolski and Włodzimierz Kotoński at the Academy of Music in Warsaw. Since 1973 he has collaborated with the Experimental Studio of the Polish Radio. In 1974-75 he studied computer programming in the Institute of Mathematics of the Polish Academy of Sciences. He also took part in the new music courses in Darmstadt (1974, 1976). Knittel is a co-founder of several live electronic and intuitive music groups: KEW Composers' Group (with Elżbieta Sikora and Wojciech Michniewski, 1973-76), Cytula Tyfun da Bamba Orkiester (1981), Independent Electroacoustic Music Studio (1982-84), Light from Poland (1985-87), and the European Improvisation Orchestra (1996). Knittel was also a co-organizer of the new wave ensembles Go-Go Boys and Box Train–-performing with poets, artists, film and video producers. In 1978 he worked for The Center of the Creative and Performing Arts in Buffalo. In 1989 Knittel, together with Mark Cho oniewski, founded the CH&K Studio which gave concerts in Europe, the United States and Canada. A composer and performer, Knittel is also active as a journalist and critic (contributing to the periodical Tygodnik Literacki and collaborating with the Music Department of Polish public television). He ha taught at New Music seminars and courses in Kazimierz Dolny, Munich, Boston, Philadelphia, Barcelona, Alicante, Budapest, Prague and Vitasaari. In 1985 Knittel was awarded the Solidarity Prize for his String Quartet, written in a tribute to Father Jerzy Popiełuszko. His international honors include the 1998 Award of the Foundation for Contemporary Performing Arts in New York.

The composer has served as Vice-Chairman of the Polish Section of the ISCM (1989-92)and Vice-President of the International Contemporary Music Festival "Warsaw Autumn" (1995-98). In 1999 he was elected President of the Polish Composers' Union. Since 1990 he has organized concerts at the Center of Contemporary Art at Ujazdowski Castle. Knittel composes music for chamber ensembles, solo instruments, electronic and computer music, music for theatre, television and film. His principal works of recent years include: Histoire I for tape (1988), Histoire II for clarinet, piano, synthesizer and tape (1988), Bits and Pieces for instruments and tape (1988), Histoire III or harpsichord and tape (1989), Man-Orchestra, version for keyboards (1989), Jingle-Jangle for voices and keyboards (1989), Borders of Nothing for synthesizers (1990), Man-Nature, graphic computer music (1991), Homage to Charles Ives for chamber ensemble (1992), 14 Variations by Piotr Bikont and Krzysztof Knittel on 14 Variations by Edwin Morgan on 14 Words by John Cage (1986/92), and Instant Reactions for instruments and computer (1992).


Chamber Music

Form A; Form E, for wood-wind quintet and lights - 1973

Dirokos, seven miniatures for string quartet and tape - 1976-77

Five Pieces, for cello and piano - 1979-80

Man-Orchestra I, for any instruments and tape - 1982

String Quartet - 1984-85

Man-Orchestra II, for computers and objects - 1988

Borders of Nothing, for computers - 1990

Homage to Charles Ives, for flute, oboe, clarinet, basson, piano, percussion, viola, and double-bass - 1992

14 Variations by Piotr Bikont and Krzysztof Knittel on 14 Variations by Edwin Morgan on 14 Words by John Cage , for voices and computer - 1986-92

Instat Reactions, for instruments and computers - 1992

Homage to Barbara Zbrozyna, for synthesizer and tapes -1997

Orchestral Works

Lipps, for jazz trio and symphony orchestra - 1974

29 Systems, for chamber orchestra - 1980-81

Nibiru, for string orchestra and cembalo - 1987

Solo Works

Prelude for piano - 1972

Three Studies for piano - 1980

Four Preludes for piano - 1983

Solo Works with Tape

Points/lines for clarinet, tapes and slides - 1973

Three Songs without Words for soprano and tape

Histoire III for cembalo and tape - 1990

Works for Tape

The Conqueror Worm - 1979

Odds and Ends - 1978

Low Sound - version 1 for tape - 1980

Norcet 1 and Norcet 2 - 1980

Lapis - 1985

Poko - 1986

Man-Ature collection of sixteen computer graphic compositions - 1991

Monologue for cello solo - 1990

Surface en rotation - 1997

Stage Works

Gluckspavillon for Cathy, instrumental theatre, for tuba and tape - 1979

Woman's Voice, ballet - percussion and tape - 1980

Negev, for percussion instruments and synthesizer - 1993

Between , for piano and tape - 1993

detour , musical events for speaker, cello, piano, percussion and tapes - 1997

Satan in Goray , libretto after Isaac Bashevis Singer (ballet) - 1993

Der Erwahlte, libretto afet Olivier Sachas - 1998

Music for Films

Features: "Camera Buff" by Krzysztof Kieslowski, "Phantom" and "Bird of Paradise" by Marek Nowicki; "Tie" by Krzysztof Lang, "The Rump of Leviatan" by Mariusz Trelinski.

Cartoons: "Flying Hair" by Piotr Dumala, "Fingers on Fire" by Daniel Szczechura.

Experimental Films: "Bird Science" by Jerzy Kalina. "Double Stumble" by Piotr Bikont, "Still Life" by Krzysztof Bukowski and others.


  • Kwartet Smyczkowy. String Quartet. 1976. Manuscript score in black ink. 23 pages.


    I wrote down these notes in 1976--it was supposed to be my first string quartet. But it was not composed at that time; instead some fragments were included in the composition Devices for string quartet and tape. I returned to this score (sketches, notes) in 1987 and I arranged them into a certain whole, giving the work a significant title, or rather sub-title, "Ursus" [the name of a tractor factory where some of the strikes were taking place in 1976]. This was the year filled with repression of the communist rulers against the mutinies of the workers in Radom and in the factory Ursus near Warsaw. I do not know if music is capable of expressing the concrete emotions and feelings of its creator; probably not, and this is why it is sometimes worthwhile to refer to the events with which certain compositions are associated. As far as the notation itself is concerned--pencil, or pen, or computer? This is of no significance for me. One may note the ideas in all of these ways--in the form of a handwritten score on the staves, in recording, on a computer disc. What is written down is important (so that one would not have to be ashamed of it.).
    [Krzysztof Knittel, 10.10. 2000, Warsaw]

    PMC Home Page Composers

    Copyright 1999-2001 by the Polish Music Center
    Send your comments and inquiries
    Based on materials from the program book of the Warsaw Autumn Festival.
    Edited and updated in July 2000 by Błażej Wajszczuk.