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Polish Radio Experimental Studio: A Galaxy of Writings, Prints, and Sound

Polish Radio Experimental Studio, founded in in Warsaw in 1957 as a radio production unit, made its mark in history primarily as a center for the creation of electronic music. Directed by Józef Patkowski until 1985 and by Krzysztof Szlifirski from 1999 until the Studio’s activities ceased in about 2004, PRES produced more than 200 autonomous compositions as well as several hundred works for film, theatre, TV, and radio plus various exhibitions and installations.

Among the many foreign visitors Patkowski invited to the Studio were leading figures in contemporary music such as Christian Clozier, Franco Evangelisti, Vittorio Gelmetti, Lejaren Hiller, Bengt Emil Johnson, Roland Kayn, Kåare Kolberg, François Bernard Mâche, Stephen Montague, Arne Nordheim, Nigel Osborne, and Tamas Ungvary. The pieces they created and recorded at PRES, were published abroad on numerous long plays, generally without back production information or any other sort of documentation. In addition, hundreds of soundtracks for radio, television, film, and theater as well as experiments in sound and multimedia were based on electroacoustic works composed at PRES. The complete PRES discography, when it is finally prepared, will be long and fascinating.

Here I present a galaxy of published materials related to PRES. An even greater amount remains unpublished. Many of my finds were made in the shadowy archives of the Polish Radio and Television Comittee, a state institution of quasi-military character. Thanks to Eugeniusz Rudnik and others former PRES associates, I have been able to uncover visual and audio art that has either been forgotten or remains unknown. In the course of my research, I have listened to miles of undocumented tapes, some of them recorded on speeds or multitracks that are decades out of date.

Work that the Studio carried out on commission went undocumented: only autonomous productions were kept and archived. This necessarily incomplete list of audio and print publications is a first attempt at a PRES bibliography. The contents will expand as work is rediscovered and published. I have added to the list several unpublished, handwritten documents that are both fascinating witnesses to the work of the Studio and artworks in themselves.

Rescued from near-oblivion, PRES is finally becoming recognized for its important contributions to European music and art. The galaxy proposed below, just like the celestial galaxies, is still extending. There are still more stars to discover.

The bibliography consists of the following parts:

  • Modern discography (CDs and LPs released since 2000),
  • Books
  • Essays
  • Scores including scores combined with discography
  • Unpublished manuscripts

Index of abbreviations:

PAN – Polska Akademia Nauk (Polish Academy of Science)
PWM – Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne (Polish Music Publications)
PRES – Studio Eksperymentalne Polskiego Radia (Polish Radio Experimental Studio)

Author

Boles%c5%82aw b%c5%82aszczyk profile photo

Bolesław Błaszczyk

Musicologist, writer, composer Cellist of a Polish musical cabaret group called The Moz'Art Group (Grupa MoCarta), which performed in 40 countries, also with Bobby McFerrin. Musicologist, writer,... Read more »
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Polish Radio Experimental Studio: A Galaxy of Writings, Prints, and Sound

Polish Radio Experimental Studio, founded in in Warsaw in 1957 as a radio production unit, made its mark in history primarily as a center for the creation of electronic music. Directed by Józef Patkowski until 1985 and by Krzysztof Szlifirski from 1999 until the Studio’s activities ceased in about 2004, PRES produced more than 200 autonomous compositions as well as several hundred works for film, theatre, TV, and radio plus various exhibitions and installations.

Among the many foreign visitors Patkowski invited to the Studio were leading figures in contemporary music such as Christian Clozier, Franco Evangelisti, Vittorio Gelmetti, Lejaren Hiller, Bengt Emil Johnson, Roland Kayn, Kåare Kolberg, François Bernard Mâche, Stephen Montague, Arne Nordheim, Nigel Osborne, and Tamas Ungvary. The pieces they created and recorded at PRES, were published abroad on numerous long plays, generally without back production information or any other sort of documentation. In addition, hundreds of soundtracks for radio, television, film, and theater as well as experiments in sound and multimedia...

Show More

Polish Radio Experimental Studio, founded in in Warsaw in 1957 as a radio production unit, made its mark in history primarily as a center for the creation of electronic music. Directed by Józef Patkowski until 1985 and by Krzysztof Szlifirski from 1999 until the Studio’s activities ceased in about 2004, PRES produced more than 200 autonomous compositions as well as several hundred works for film, theatre, TV, and radio plus various exhibitions and installations.

Among the many foreign visitors Patkowski invited to the Studio were leading figures in contemporary music such as Christian Clozier, Franco Evangelisti, Vittorio Gelmetti, Lejaren Hiller, Bengt Emil Johnson, Roland Kayn, Kåare Kolberg, François Bernard Mâche, Stephen Montague, Arne Nordheim, Nigel Osborne, and Tamas Ungvary. The pieces they created and recorded at PRES, were published abroad on numerous long plays, generally without back production information or any other sort of documentation. In addition, hundreds of soundtracks for radio, television, film, and theater as well as experiments in sound and multimedia were based on electroacoustic works composed at PRES. The complete PRES discography, when it is finally prepared, will be long and fascinating.

Here I present a galaxy of published materials related to PRES. An even greater amount remains unpublished. Many of my finds were made in the shadowy archives of the Polish Radio and Television Comittee, a state institution of quasi-military character. Thanks to Eugeniusz Rudnik and others former PRES associates, I have been able to uncover visual and audio art that has either been forgotten or remains unknown. In the course of my research, I have listened to miles of undocumented tapes, some of them recorded on speeds or multitracks that are decades out of date.

Work that the Studio carried out on commission went undocumented: only autonomous productions were kept and archived. This necessarily incomplete list of audio and print publications is a first attempt at a PRES bibliography. The contents will expand as work is rediscovered and published. I have added to the list several unpublished, handwritten documents that are both fascinating witnesses to the work of the Studio and artworks in themselves.

Rescued from near-oblivion, PRES is finally becoming recognized for its important contributions to European music and art. The galaxy proposed below, just like the celestial galaxies, is still extending. There are still more stars to discover.

The bibliography consists of the following parts:

  • Modern discography (CDs and LPs released since 2000),
  • Books
  • Essays
  • Scores including scores combined with discography
  • Unpublished manuscripts

Index of abbreviations:

PAN – Polska Akademia Nauk (Polish Academy of Science)
PWM – Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne (Polish Music Publications)
PRES – Studio Eksperymentalne Polskiego Radia (Polish Radio Experimental Studio)

Source contents

Assemblage

Polyversional tape compositions composed by Bogusław Schaeffer at PRES. Tracks include Symphony – Electronic Music, one of the most important pieces produced at PRES. Liner notes in Polish and English by B. Błaszczyk.

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Anthology of noise and electronic music # 7

Eugeniusz Rudnik’s “Collage,” created at PRES, is one of 39 tracks in this collection featuring rare and previously unpublished works from 1930 to 2012. Composers include Luciano Berio, John Oswald, Henry Cow, Cabaret Voltaire, Don Preston, Fausto Romitelli and more than 30 others. Extensive critical and biographical notes in English.

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Awangarda

Kotoński’s music from the 1960s and ’70s, including Study for One Cymbal Stroke (1959), the first autonomous composition realized at PRES.

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Blanc et rouge

PRES produced dozens of hours of socially engaged music, including Penderecki’s legendary Death Brigade (1963), which the composer deleted from his catalogue. These works allude to current events of their time but also point to broader historical and human contexts. The album includes music from the 1960s to the ’80s. Liner notes in Polish and English by B. Błaszczyk.

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DJ Lenar Re:PRES

Eugeniusz Rudnik's sound “miniatures" interpreted by DJ Lenar (Marcin Lenarczyk). Liner notes in Polish and English by Michał Libera.

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Eastern-Waves: Warszawa-Oslo

Music from the 1960s and ’70s by Arne Nordheim, Kåre Kolberg and Eugeniusz Rudnik, who worked together at PRES during those years. Their individual and collective efforts (Rudnik produced Nordheim’s compositions) were landmarks in Poland and Norway and highly influential internationally in the development of experimental music and art. The Norwegian pavilion at Expo ‘70 in Osaka featured a...

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ERdada na taśmę

Music composed since the turn of the millennium by Rudnik, with the exception of one piece composed and performed by Błaszczyk, a cellist and Rudnik’s biographer.
Liner notes in Polish and English by Błaszczyk and Rudnik.

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Katyń 1940

Compilation of recordings from various archives includes works by Panufnik, Górecki, and a piece by Rudnik produced at PRES entitled “Via crucis an epitaph dedicated to the memory of the Polish officers murdered in April and May 1940 in the Katyn village near Smolensk” (1990).

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Miniatury

Since the early 1960s Rudnik has created hundreds of sound miniatures. This CD of works composed between 1975 and 2005 documents this activity. Liner notes in Polish and English by Marek Horodniczy.

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PRES revisited – Józef Patkowski in memoriam

CD 1 features works created at PRES. Most are from the 1960s, and among them are some of the Studio’s greatest productions. CD 2 is a recording of a 2009 concert devoted to PRES at London's Cafe Oto. Electronic pieces from the Studio were turned into structured instrumental improvisations performed by John Tilbury, Eddie Prévost, and Phil Durrant, legends of improvised music, and by guitarist...

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PRES Scores

Very few works created at PRES were scored, and those that were are among the earliest attempts at electronic sound notation. These CDs are devoted to original and new realizations of five of the Studio's seven published scores. Some were performed at PRES by Eugeniusz Rudnik and Bohdan Mazurek; other performances, by Lionel Marchetti, Thomas Lehn, Philip Zoubek and Wolfram, Arszyn and Piotr...

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Requiem sampler

Compilation of Polish music composed since the 1970s includes pieces produced at PRES by Bolesław Błaszczyk and Eugeniusz Rudnik.

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Rękopis znaleziony w Saragossie - The Saragossa Manuscript

The original soundtrack of Wojciech Has’s 1965 film was realized with Bohdan Mazurek at PRES in 1963.

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Secret poems

Description of the collective composing process at PRES presented by the members of KEW, one of the most interesting groups in Poland’s 1970s musical avant-garde. Liner notes in Polish and English by B. Błaszczyk.

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Sentinel Hypothesis

Music from the 1960s and ’70s by one of the most important figures at PRES. Mazurek started working at the Studio in 1962 as a recording engineer but soon became prominent as a composer of both of illustrative and autonomous music. Liner notes in Polish and English by B. Błaszczyk.

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Solitude of sounds: in memoriam Tomasz Sikorski

This tribute to the pioneering minimalist composer, one of the most significant figures in contemporary Polish music, features music created at PRES between the 1960s and the early 2000s by Sikorski and his followers. A highlight is Esztenyi’s Concerto for prepared piano and tape (1971), one of the most interesting live electronic pieces realized at PRES. Liner notes in Polish and English by B....

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Sounding The Body Electric: Experiments in Art and Music in Eastern Europe 1957–1984

Compilation of recordings featured in the exhibition of the same title - see Bibliography, which focused on early Eastern European sound art approached from the perspective of the visual arts, performance, and architecture. The curators followed the two fundamental issues discussed in the 1960s: object and space. Liner notes in Polish and English by B. Błaszczyk, David Crowley, and Daniel...

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Studio Eksperymentalne Polskiego Radia – Polish Radio Experimental Studio

Music by Rudnik from the 1960s to the 1990s. Liner notes in Polish and English by B. Błaszczyk.

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Zeitkratzer plays PRES

Instrumental versions of six PRES productions from different stages of the Studio's history arranged and performed by contemporary music ensemble Zeitkratzer, an international group specialized in this provocative approach to electronic music. Zeitkratzer proves that what was possible only thanks to recording studios in the 1960s can be played live nowadays on violins and pianos. Liner notes in...

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„O pracy Eugeniusza Rudnika. Przyczynek do dziejów Studia Eksperymentalnego Polskiego Radia” (On the work of Eugeniusz Rudnik: A Contribution to the History of Polish Radio Experimental Studio)

The author casts light on the history of Polish Radio, from 1950 to the 1970s, when the organization was a major cultural actor in Poland and had a strong influence on society. Many Polish artists who collaborated with Polish Radio to realize sound works, electroacoustic music, and film soundtracks became recognized internationally.

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Sounding The Body Electric: Experiments in Art and Music in Eastern Europe 1957–1984

A survey of the first experimental approaches to sound and image in Eastern Europe during the 1960s and the decades that followed, featuring artworks and recordings by artists connected with PRES: Walerian Borowczyk, Szábolcs Esztényi, Zofia & Oskar Hansen, Zygmunt Krauze, Jan Lenica, Józef Robakowski, Eugeniusz Rudnik, Bogusław Schaeffer, Krzysztof Wodiczko and many others, including...

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Ku Formie Otwartej (Towards Open Form)

Hansen (1922–2005) was an architect, artist, and educator associated with the influential group of international architects known as Team 10. In 1962 he designed PRES and its legendary Black Room. The book documents Hansen’s major projects, and it was edited by Jola Gola.

(See here for an essay about Hansen's design).

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Muzyka elektroniczna (Electronic Music)

The first extensive work in Polish on electronic music, its history and development. Compares the specificities of the first European studios of electronic music in Paris, Milan, Cologne and Warsaw.

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“Fonosfera w dziele radiowym” (Phonosphere in radio art)

Theoretical analysis of skills developed at PRES through experimental practice.

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“Tape never lies”

Libera’s essay on Eugeniusz Rudnik is one of many in this special edition of the periodical Format P, titled Spoken Exhibitions: An Institutional Opera in Three Acts, which assumes the form of a libretto to a curator-led tour of a non-existent exhibition devoted to forgotten, overlooked or mythologized chapters in Polish culture of the 20th century. The exhibition materials include fictions,...

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Horyzonty muzyki (Music Horizons)

This publication contains several essays by Patkowski concerning PRES: “Perspectives on Electronic Music” (1960), “Current Problems of Musique Concrète and Electronic Music” (1961), “Synthetic Sound Problems” (1963), “Sound on Magnetic Tape as Part of an Instrumental Composition” (1964), “Composer vs Engineering and Technology at PRES” (1964).

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Studio Eksperyment / Studio Experiment

This anthology of texts written about the Studio, with some of them (including an incomplete list of sound recordings) published for the first time, is a handy introduction to PRES.

Bolesław Błaszczyk, “Preferring the matter flow: Bogusław Schaeffer at PRES”

Paulina Bocheńska, “Technological experiment. Musical experiment”

Michał Bristiger, Daniel Muzyczuk, Magdalena Radziejowska, Eugeniusz...

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“A History of Electroacoustic Music in Poland from the Perspective of the Polish Radio Experimental Studio 1957–1990”

This online resource also features a lexicon of experimental practices employed at PRES. Far from a comprehensive presentation of issues involved in the experiment, the lexicon presents a curious and interesting constellation of sometimes discordant fragments.

Józef Patkowski, “In the Sound Laboratory,” interview with Magdalena Radziejowska

Józef Patkowski, “Perspectives in Electronic Music”...

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Muzyka na taśmę magnetofonową nr 1 (Music for Magnetic Tape No. 1)

Score and vinyl EP 7” record
The record is accompanied by a 56-page booklet containing descriptive notes and the complete score.
Side 1 features a recording of the piece; Side B consists of "Recordings of the examples in the notes to the score."

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Symfonia–muzyka elektroniczna (Symphony–Electronic Music)

Score includes:
- 2 EP 7” vinyl records featuring the mono recording of the piece (one movement per side)
- 2 essays in Polish and English:
Bohdan Mazurek, “Symphony–Electronic Music by Bogusław Schaeffer. Comment by the Score Performer”
Bogusław Schaeffer, “Symphony–Electronic music. Composer’s Comment”
Composer’s text tells more about work in PRES extending space of its creative...

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Podręczny Słownik Rudniko-polski (Concise Rudnik–Polish Dictionary)

This humorous, charming work lists the 56 most distinctive terms used by PRES sound engineer and composer Eugeniusz Rudnik in his work and lectures. Conceived and produced by his then-students Okoń, now a well-known sound engineer, and Szwarcman, a leading music journalist.

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Dziennik pracy Oboe 812 (Working diary Oboe 812)

Fascinating day-by-day description of composition process of Andrzej Dobrowolski’s Music for Oboe and Magnetic Tape, one of the most demanding scores performed by Rudnik, who kept a running account of its genesis from November 13, 1964 until September 5,1965.

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“Cała prawda jak powstawaliśmy My” (The whole truth about how Ourselves arose)

The author describes how he composed My (Ourselves) and documents several other Studio projects.

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“Konsultacja” (Consultation)

Miscellaneous notes, drawings, and technical diagrams relating to several of Rudnik’s pieces. Subjects include multi-channel sound distribution, interpersonal relations at PRES, and ideas for restructuring the Studio in 1985.

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Polish Radio Experimental Studio: A Galaxy of Writings, Prints, and Sound

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I am desperately looking for this release as it seems to be sold out.

Anyone here who has an idea where to get it? Thank You.

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I am desperately looking for this release as it seems to be sold out.

Anyone here who has an idea where to get it? Thank You.

Show more »