Indiana University

Composition Department


MARTA PTASZYNSKA (IU faculty: 1997-1998)



Selected Compositions

Selected Discography



Marta Ptaszynska, an internationally acclaimed composer, born in Warsaw, Poland and since 1972 living in the United States, has been enjoying a many-faceted career as a composer, percussionist, and a teacher. She is the author of such well-known works as the Concerto for Marimba, Winter’s Tale, Sonnets to Orpheus, and Moon Flowers, as well as numerous composition for percussion (Siderals, Graffito, Spider Walk, Space Model, Letter to the Sun) which have been performed often around the world. Ptaszynska has received commissions from orchestras including Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, Polish Chamber Orchestra, W. Lutoslawski’s Symphony Orchestra and Sinfonia Varsovia, from the National Opera in Warsaw in Poland, from the Polish Television, and from artists such as contralto Ewa Podles, marimba virtuoso Keiko Abe, and percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Her television opera Oscar of Alva, produced by the Cracow Television, received both audience and critical acclaim at the International Festival in Salzburg in 1989. Her opera for children, Mister Marimba, which has been in the repertory of the National Opera in Warsaw since 1998, has enjoyed phenomenal success and popularity for seven consecutive seasons with 114 performances.

Her Holocaust Memorial Cantata gained international recognition when performed several times in 1993 under the baton of Lord Yehudi Menuhin. Marta Ptaszynska has been honored with many prizes and awards, including the 2006 Benjamin H.Danks Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Fromm Music Foundation Award, Alfred Jurzykowski Award in New York, multiple ASCAP Awards, the Award at the International Rostrum of Composers at the UNESCO in Paris, awards from the Percussive Arts Society, and from the Union of Polish Composer. In 1995, she received the “Officer Cross of Merit” of the Republic of Poland. Her music has been performed at prestigious international festivals, including ISCM World Music Days, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, the Salzburg Festival, the Warsaw Autumn International Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, the Gulbenkian Foundation New Music Festival, the Prix Futura in Berlin, and many others. In her native Poland, Ptaszynska studied composition at the Academies of Music, both, in Warsaw and in Poznan. Also, she worked privately with Witold Lutoslawski, who later became her mentor. As a French Government ‘s grant recipient, she studied in the early seventies with Nadia Boulanger and attended Olivier Messiaen’s analysis classes at the Paris Conservatory. In 1974, she received an Artist Diploma Degree in Percussion Performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music in Cleveland, where she worked with Cloyd Duff, Richard Weiner, and Donald Erb. Widely acclaimed as a virtuoso percussionist, for several decades she has performed extensively as a soloist percussionist, and has participated in many European and American festivals. Her distinguished career as a composition teacher includes professorships at Bennington College in Vermont, the University of California in Berkeley and in Santa Barbara, the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Indiana University in Bloomington, and Northwestern University in Evanston. In 1998, Ptaszynska was appointed a Professor of Music and in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. Since 2005 she holds an endowed chair and is a Helen & Frank Sulzberger Professor of Composition.

Selected Compositions


Awakening Birds (2003)
Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra (1988)
Concerto Grosso (1996)
Fanfare in Memoriam Frederic Chopin (1999)
Inverted Mountain (2001)

Chamber Music and Instrumental Solos

Ajikan: Unfolding Light (1989)
Four Portaits (1994)
Madrigals "Canticum Sonarum," Igor Stravinsky in Memoriam (1971)
Moon Flowers (1986) 
Trois Visions De L'Arc-En-Ciel (Three Visions on a Rainbow) (2008) 

Large Ensemble

Trois Visions De L'Arc-En-Ciel (Three Visions on a Rainbow) (2008) 

Vocal Music

Distant Voices (1995)
Holocaust Memorial Cantata (1992)
Liquid Light (1995)
Polish Letters (Listy polskie) (1988) 

Solo Music

Siderals (1974)
Spider Walk (1993)
Pianophonia (2005)
Graffito (1988)
Space Model (1975) 

Selected Discography

Holocaust Memorial Cantata - Accord, 2001
Polish Violin Duos - Dux Recording Production, 2003 
Per Clavicembalo Moderno - Dux, 2008 


Theodore Presser Company