Jonny Greenwood’s weekend in Poland [UPDATED]

by Jonathan on September 12, 2011

Jonny Greenwood at the Sacrum Profanum Festival in Poland. September 11, 2011

Jonny Greenwood at the Sacrum Profanum Festival in Poland last night.

Jonny Greenwood had quite the weekend in Poland. On Friday night, his reworking of Krzysztof Penderecki’s “Polymorphia” entitled “48 Responses to Polymorphia” was premiered at the European Culture Congress in Wroclaw. Greenwood was part of a concert event which also included Aphex Twin celebrating Penderecki’s work. Here’s a description written before the event:

The programme of two concerts in Wroc?aw includes three compositions by Penderecki: “Polymorphia for strings”, “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima” and “Canon for strings”. All these works, written for strings (in the latter case, for strings and tape delay), come from 1960-1962, the avant-garde years of the composer’s life. Both Aphex Twin and Jonny Greenwood will invoke just that period in their music. “Polymorphia” – performed for the first time 50 years ago – has become their source of inspiration. Aphex Twin is composing “Polymorphia Reloaded” while Jonny Greenwood – “48 Responses to Polymorphia”; both compositions will have their world premiere in Wroclaw.

On Sunday night, Jonny performed at the opening concert at the Sacrum Profanum Festival in Kraków. The week-long festival offers a retrospective of some of composer Steve Reich’s most iconic works, as well as newer additions. Jonny performed Reich’s “Electric Counterpoint,” a composition written in 1987 with three movements: “Fast,” “Slow,” and “Fast.”

After the jump, you can view Friday’s night’s performance of Jonny’s “48 Responses to Polymorphia” as well as an interview with him about Penderecki.

UPDATE: You can now watch a video of Jonny’s performance of “Electric Counterpoint” here.

Jonny GreenwoodIn a recent interview, Jonny explains how Penderecki was a huge influence to him:

“For me he’s a real hero, because he learnt about electronic music and then went back to the orchestra, and made all these magical sounds using very old-fashioned technology,” Greenwood told Polish Radio.

“To me I find that very inspiring,” he added.

Besides his work with Radiohead, the British star has written acclaimed soundtracks to films such as Daniel Day-Lewis’s gritty epic There will be Blood.

As he told Polish Radio, his admiration for Penderecki stretches back to his college days.

“I went to see a concert that he was conducting, and I stood at the front, and at the end I stood up to give him a standing ovation because it was so amazing, and no one else in the room was standing.

“But I was so overwhelmed – I was starstruck.”

The Radiohead star joked that the concert will be somewhat embarrassing for him.

“I have to do lots of sweating and feel very self-conscious and awkward, and I have to put up with Penderecki looking at me because I’ve stolen so many of his ideas,” he said.

Among the pieces in the programme, Greenwood will be performing a world premiere of “48 responses to the polymorphia” a further work inspired by the Polish great.

“I’ve been following him around, and been obsessed with him, and it’s very unreal, and I can’t quite believe its happening tomorrow,” said Greenwood.

“I’m very happy, very excited.”


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  • Uncle Bingo

    I just found out about this and really really need to hear it! I had recently put together a tribute montage for the Jack Nicholson prank call website,, using Polymorphia as the backing tune, and I’ve really come to know and love this experiment in sound so dearly. If you the reader here would like to hear my play with the Penderecki piece it’s on the main page, at the end of the list of the calls. It’s entitled Jackymorphia2 and I hope you’ll enjoy it like I’m sure to once I find MP3s of the Aphex and Greenwood performances. Cheers!

  • sd

    I think it would be best if Jonny would quit radiohead and do his own thing. Sadly, I feel he’s wasting his potential recently. I’m sure others disagree, but just had to say it.

  • Anonymous

    does anyone know where i can get a hq copy of the entire performance? i’m sure one exists.

  • Pingback: Jonny Greenwood to released album with Krzysztof Penderecki — Green Plastic Radiohead()

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