Witold Szalonek was born in 1927 in Czechowice-Dziedzice, died in 2001 in Berlin. In 1949-56 he studied at the State Higher School of Music in Katowice, piano with Wanda Chmielowska and composition with Bolesław Woytowicz. Following his first successes at international composers' competitions, he received a grant from Kranichsteiner Musikinstitut in Darmstadt (1960). In 1962-63 he continued his studies with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. In 1967 he began to teach composition at the Katowice School and in 1970-74 was in charge of the Department of Composition and Theory. In the early 1970s he was invited by the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst to work as 'artist in residence' at West Berlin's Hochschule der Kunste. In 1973 he won the competition to succed Boris Blacher as Professor of Composition there. He has conducted numerous seminars and courses in composition in Poland, Denmark, Germany, Finland and Slovakia. In 1990 he received an honorary doctor's degree from the Wilhelmian University in Munchen. He also won the annual award of the Polish Composers' Union (1994).
Szalonek's diverse output includes choral, solo, chamber and orchestral works. They have been featured in major new music festivals such as the International Summer Courses in Dramstadt, ISCM World Music Days, Warsaw Autumn, Time of Music in Viitasaari, Gulbenkian Music Festival in Lisbon, Inventionen in Berlin, Alternatives in Moscow and Contrasts in Kiev. In 1963 Szlonek discovered and classified the so-called 'combined sounds' generated by the woodwind instruments. He is also the author of theoretical studies on a wide range of subjects, including 'combined sounds', sonorism, Chopin and Debussy.
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