Tomasz Sikorski

Published: October 7, 2001

Updated: April 22, 2002

Short biography

Tomasz Sikorski was born on May 19, 1939 in Warsaw, son of composer Kazimierz Sikorski. He died on November 12, 1988 (September 14, according to the New Grove Dictionary, second edition) in the same city at the age of 49. He died alone in his flat in Warsaw as a result of his long battle with alcoholism. Apart from these facts, not much information on his life can be found in the music literature, nor on the internet.


From 1956 to 1962 Tomasz Sikorski studied composition with Kazimierz Serocki and piano with Zbigniew Drzewiecki, both at the State Higher School of Music in Warsaw. In 1965 the French goverment granted him a scholarship and because of this he was in Paris until 1966. Thanks to a scholarship of the U.S. Government (Senior Fulbright Program) he worked at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center in New York (1975-76). Result of this period is his composition 'Solitude of Sound' (1975).
His compositions have been performed frequently at the Warsaw Autumn International Contemporary Music Festival and at ISCM Festivals in Stockholm (1966), Athens (1979) and Brussels (1981).

On his music

After a few early works in the late 1950s and early 60s, Sikorski rapidly developed his own language. His music is introverted, dark and static and has been influenced by his readings of philosophical works by authors like Heidegger, Kafka, Kierkegaard and Beckett. Usually there is hardly any development in his music. Instead he is concerned with motivic fragments, repeated with some marginal development. His music might be called 'minimal', but definitely not in the sense of American or Baltic minimal music. He contemplated on fractured ideas and themes, giving a harsh and uncompromising commentary on the madness in his world.


In this album Tomasz Sikorski (born in 1939) represents the youngest generation of Polish composers. At the beginning of his creativity he composed, in 1964, Prologi (Prologues). This work, as well as Antyfony (Antiphonies) written one year earlier, signalizes his vital interest in avantgarde musical concepts which are in most cases within the area of chamber music, including works for solo instruments. His interest focuses on the possibilities offered by the aleatoric technique (Concerto breve, 1965; Sequenza I, 1966), the realizations of static one-dimensional music (Sonant, 1966; Homofonia, 1968), the open-space universum (Vox humaine, 1971), as well as the concept of the minimalism (Bez tytulu (without title), 1971). In his search Tomasz Sikorski is one of the most consequent and non-conformist authors of the new generation.

from the 4LP-Box "Musica Polonica Nova I" (Polskie Nagrania SXL 1134-1137). Translated by Adam Marlewski

Principal Works

1955 2 preludes, piano
1960 Wariacje, piano and 4 percussion groups
1961-63 Echoes II, 1-4 pianos, 2 gongs, 2 tam-tams, tape
1962 Szkice Sketches, string quartet
1963 Antiphones, soprano, piano, horn, chimes, 2 gongs, 2 tam-tams, tape
1964 Prologues, female choir, 2 solo pianos, 4 flutes and horns - 6'30
1965 Concerto breve, piano, 24 wind instruments and 4 percussionists
1966 Monodia e sequenza, flute and piano
1966 Sequenza I, orchestra
1967 Sonant, piano
1968 Intersection, 4 percussionists
1968/70 Homophony, 4 trumpets, 4 horns, 4 trombones, piano and gong - 11'
1969 Diaphony, 2 pianos
1969(?) Music for brass instruments, tam-tams and chimes
1970 For Strings, 3 violins and 3 violas
1970 Collage, female chorus, instruments, tape
1970 Musique diatonique, 16 wind instruments and 8 gongs
1971 Vox humana, mixed choir, 2 pianos, 12 brass instruments, 4 gongs, 4 tam-tams
1971-72 The Adventures of Sindbad the Sailor, radio opera for 6 reciting voices, soprano, tenor, female choir and orchestra
1971/2 Zerstreutes Hinausschauen, piano
1972 Bez tytulu (Without title), piano and 3 optional instruments
1972 Holzwege, small orchestra
1973 Listening Music, 2 pianos
1974 Music from Afar, mixed choir, 10 brass instruments, piano and percussion - 8'
1975 Other Voices, 24 wind instruments, 4 gongs and bells
1975 The Solitude of Sounds, tape
1976 Sickness Unto Death, reciter, 2 pianos, 4 trumpets and horns. Text by Kierkegaard
1978 Music in Twilight, piano and orchestra
1979 Hymnos, piano
1979-80 Strings in the Earth, 15 strings
1979-80 Monophony, orchestra
1979-80(?) Lontano, orchestra
1979-80 Ositato, orchestra
1980 Autograph, piano
1980 Modus, solo trombone
1981 Afar a Bird, reciter (whispering), clavichord and tape (prerecorded keyboard). Text by Samuel Beckett
1981-82 2 Portraits, orchestra
1982 Paesaggio d'inverno, strings
1982 Modus, solo cello. Revision of 1980 work
1982 Euphony, piano - 9'
1983 Autoportret, orchestra
1983 Autoritratto, 2 pianos and orchestra
1983 (?) Little Concerto, orchestra
1983/4 Recitativo ed Aria, strings
1984 La notte "Omaggio a Friedrich Nietzsche", strings
1984 Rondo, harpsichord
1986 Moderato Cantabile, solo cello
1986 Das Schweigen der Sirenen (nach Kafka), cello
1987 Omaggio "in memoriam Borges", 4 pianos and orchestra - 11'30
1987 Diario 87, tape and reciting voice
? Musica Concertante, piano and orchestra
? Three Sketches, orchestra
? 4 Pieces for Orchestra, orchestra
? Sequenza II, orchestra
? Songs about Wit Stwosz, solo soprano, choir of sopranos and orchestra
various Film and incidental music,


Currently there are no recordings available. Many of his works were released on LP's in the 'Warsaw Autumn' Series, but these are no longer available.


Polish Music Center (biography and worklist)
Enciclopedia Musicale Elettronica (a few basic facts)
panoramix.univ-paris.1 (contains cover of score for 'Sickness unto Death')
Stephen Montague (Sikorski is mentioned here as dedicatee in Montague's First String Quartet)

Thanks to Adam Marlewski for translating the text

Any additions or comments?

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