Zygmunt Krauze. Artistic archive

Zygmunt Krauze is one of the most outstanding contemporary composers; a pianist and teacher, an innovator, and precursor of many modern movements in music.

Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź has made an unprecedented purchase of all manuscripts of the works of Zygmunt Krauze: over a hundred scores and sketches, starting from school notebooks and ending with the latest works, as well as the most valuable part of the composer’s correspondence, i.e., some 350 letters, including from Nadia Boulanger, John Cage, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, Wojciech Kilar, Witold Lutosławski, Michael Nyman, Bogusław Schaeffer, and Tomasz Sikorski, among others.

It is not by accident that the composer’s archive found its way to Muzeum Sztuki.

Over the past four decades, Zygmunt Krauze as a representative of the avant-garde in Polish music  has been a co-auteur and organiser of landmark moments for the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, including this celebrated exhibitions of Presences Polonaises, which took place in Paris in 1983, and Europa, Europa hosted in Bonn in 1994.

In his musical work, Zygmunt Krauze was greatly inspired by the visual arts. Of crucial significance here were his Unistic works, composed in the early 1960s as a musical response to the impulse coming from the avant-garde paintings of Władysław Strzemiński. The composer encountered Strzemiński’s work in December 1956 during an exhibition at the Municipal Art Gallery in Łódź. Krauze’s first works with the word “Unism” in the title appear in the second half of the 1950s and early 1960s.

Inspired by the theory of Unism, he was able to create forms based on modules and creatively develop the ideas of openness and audience participation. The open structure of the works allowed the audience to contribute to the final effect.

These ideas were also creatively developed in sound installations and happenings. Zygmunt Krauze was the author of the first sound installations, or spatial-musical compositions, in Poland, created in cooperation with architects. The composer entered into the history of Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź with several works in this vein, e.g., The Underground River: Spatial Music (1987, with Wiesław Nowak and Jan Muniak, who designed the “architectural structure”) and Aria: Spatial-Musical Composition (2007). In 2012, his legendary Spatial-Musical Composition, a joint project with the architect Teresa Kelm and the sculptor Henryk Morel, originally presented in 1968 at Galeria Współczesna in Warsaw, was featured in the exhibition “Sounding the Body Electric. Experiments in Art and Music in Eastern Europe 1957-1984.” Inspired by the ideas of Władysław Strzemiński and Katarzyna Kobro’s ​​philosophy of space, this work has been in the museum’s collection since 2013. In the same year, the album Zygmunt Krauze: Spatial Music came out. The artist’s concerts were held many times in the museum and as part of events organized by the museum, including on the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Władysław Strzemiński in 1993, or a recital in Venice in conjunction with the exhibition of Stefan Krygier’s works organized by Muzeum Sztuki as part of the Venice Architecture Biennale (2023).

The Archive also includes scores from the 1970s and 1980s. After a one year stay in the United States, Krauze began experimenting with tape recording and editing, by incorporating folk music motifs in works such as Folk Music: For Symphony Orchestra (1971-1972), or Aus aller Welt stammende (1973).

Krauze also experimented with the sound of the piano, e.g., in the piece Stone Music (1972) by weighting the strings of the instrument with stones, thereby changing their sound (the Archive preserves a drawing made with a green marker illustrating a piano case filled with various objects), and with space, as in Blanc-rouge – Paysage d’un pays: For Two Great Orchestral Casts (1985), performed by approximately 300 musicians placed throughout the halls between trains at the Railway Museum in Mulhouse, France.

Theatere music, including that written for the Comédie-Française and the Théâtre National de la Colline in Paris, stands out as one of the important chapters in the composer’s work. The Archive contains, among other works, sheet music for eight operas: The Star (1981), Balthazar (2001), Yvonne, The Princess of Burgundy (2004), Polieukt (2010), The Trap (2011), Olympia of Gdansk (2015), Yemaya – Queen of the Seas (2019), and Night of the Ravens (2021).

The Zygmunt Krauze Artistic Archive constitutes a collection through which both professionals and amateurs can learn the secrets of the composer’s working methods.

The collection of scores, as well as the sketches and notes for them, offers an insight into the process of creating music, filled with searches, deletions, sketched and abandoned ideas, almost ready fragments, and—in the end—completed compositions. It is only musical notation (sometimes combined with other media) that makes one realize how complex a phenomenon music is and what a great art composing is, combining rhythm, sound, length, tempo, tone, and dividing them between instruments or voices.

The collection is open and in 2024 it was expanded by over 200 letters and 3 scores created in 2023. The Artist intends to supplement the Archive with further donations.

The Zygmunt Krauze Creative Archive was acquired by Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź with funding from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, allocated from the state budget reserve in 2023.



place : ms1, 36 Więckowskiego Street (entrance from 43 Gdańska Street)

time : Since April 3, 2024 (permanent exhibition)

opening : April 3, 2024 (wednesday), at 6:00 PM

curator : Andrzej Biernacki

cooperation : team of Department of Scientific Documentation

exhibition coordination : Monika Wesołowska, Izabela Wojtyczka

communication coordination : Dorota Wituła, Anna Augustyn-Kamińska

conservation : Katarzyna Forysiak

installation : Krzysztof Francek, Łukasz Janicki, Marek Kubacki, Adam Maj, Dariusz Mikołajczyk, Ireneusz Szymarek, Maciej Więcławski, team of Department of Scientific Documentation

details / tickets : https://msl.org.pl/en/zygmunt-krauze-artistic-archive


Purchase of works of art – sculptures by Grzegorz Gwiazda and the creative archive of Zygmunt Krauze

Subsidized by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland from the state budget reserve