THE POLISH RADIO EXPERIMENTAL STUDIO
Krzysztof Szlifirski

The establishment of the Studio was a precursor to the era of electro-acoustic music in Poland. Nevertheless, the first traces of electro-acoustic music had appeared in Poland somewhat earlier, in early 1957, in the illustrative film and theatre and music of Andrzej Markowski and Włodzimierz Kotoński and in the two musique concrete etudes by Andrzej Rakowski and Janusz Piechurski. The Polish Radio Experimental Studio came into being in October of 1957; nine years after the Club d'Essai in Paris, six years after the Studio für elektronische Musik in Cologne and two years after the Studio di Fonologia Musicale in Milan. It was a period in which the previously explicit aesthetic differences between the Parisian musique concr?te and the elektronische Musik of Cologne began to blur and the term experimental music started to become popular.
The Studio's founder was the musicologist and acoustician Józef Patkowski. He ran the Studio for 28 years, until 1985. The co-founder of the Studio was Krzysztof Szlifirski, head of the Studio from 1998 to 2004. From 1985 to 1998, the Studio was run by the composer Ryszard Szeremeta. During the late 1950s, when the Experimental Studio was established, Poland was able to return to its natural connections with world culture. The music festival Signum temporis was established in 1956, known as Warsaw Autumn today. It's worth emphasizing that in contrast to other Soviet bloc countries, the development of electronic music in Poland was not limited by the political authorities. The only time the Experimental Studio came under political pressure was during the Martial Law period, when the Studio's boss, Józef Patkowski, who at that time was Chairman of the Association of Polish Composers, fell out of grace with the authorities. As a consequence, he was removed from the Radio and the Studio experienced harassment. The first period of Polish electronic music, which lasted almost 30 years, is strictly associated with the Warsaw Studio. Even though the Studio functioned within the radio, the main area of its activity was producing independent compositions.
Up until 2003, 330 such works were created in the Studio. That doesn't mean that the Studio
avoided applied music. The Experimental Studio has produced several hundred pieces of material for radio plays, films, theatre and television plays and various exhibitions. In the 1960s, the main figures in Polish electro-acoustic music were: Włodzimierz Kotoński, Andrzej Dobrowolski, Krzysztof Penderecki, Bogusław Schaeffer, Zbigniew Wiszniewski and Tomasz Sikorski. In the 1970s, a new generation appeared, including Krzysztof Knittel, Elżbieta Sikora, Andrzej Bieżan, Paweł Szymański, Andrzej Dutkiewicz, Ryszard Szeremeta. In the 1980s and 1990s, the key figures were
Marek Chołoniewski, Jan Oleszkowicz, Barbara Zawadzka and Anna Zawadzka, Jarosław Kapuściński, Edward Sielicki, Magdalena Długosz and Jacek Grudzień.
Finally, it is important to mention two sound engineers: Eugeniusz Rudnik and Bohdan Mazurek, who began as assistants to many composers and ended up composing themselves. Their works comprise a large portion of the Experimental Studio's output. Of course, the aforementioned are only a handful because as many as 93 composers, including 59 Polish and 34 foreign composers, worked in the Experimental Studio. This international and open nature of the Studio is undoubtedly thanks to Józef Patkowski, who managed to attract not only Polish composers of different generations to the Studio, but also artists from 15 different countries. They included Franco Evangelisti and Vittorio Gelmetti (Italy), Roland Kain and Hans-Karsten Raecke (Germany), Lejaren Hiller and Herbert Brün (USA), Tamas Ungvary and Bengt Emil Johnson (Sweden), Arne Nordheim and Kare Kolberg (Norway),
François-Bernard Mâche and Christian Clozier (France), Roman Berger (Slovakia), Nigel Osborne and Stephen Montague (UK), Bruno Liberda and Wilhelm Zobl (Austria), Martin Smolka (Czech Republic) and many others.
In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the Polish Radio Experimental Studio was the only professional electro-acoustic studio in Poland. It played quite a significant role in Polish music. It organized public concerts of electro-acoustic music, it had a rich library of works produced not only in Poland but also in electro-acoustic music studios around the world, and boasted a range of specialist literature. It was the only place where a composer had access to a wide range of facilities and assistance from professional sound engineers. Classes for students of the Warsaw Music Academy were also held here. Today, professional electro-acoustic music studios can be found in music academies in Kraków, Warsaw, Łodź, Wrocław and Katowice. Even though teaching is their main purpose, they are not used exclusively for students. Those studios also organize concerts. However, in an era when practically anyone can create their own private studio at home, it is hard to determine how many of such studios there are in reality.