composer, percussionist, and professor of composition, born in Warsaw, Poland, is the author of such well-known works as the Concerto for Marimba, Winter’s Tale, Sonnets to Orpheus, and Moon Flowers, as well as numerous composition for percussion (Siderals, Graffito, Spider Walk, Space Model), which have been performed often aroundthe world.
She received numerous commissions from many orchestras, chamber groups and opera houses such as the Warsaw National Opera for two operas for children (Mister Marimba and Magic Doremik), and from the Grand Opera Theatre in Lodz for the opera on Chopin’s Bicentennial The Lovers from the Valldemosa’s Cloister. Her television opera Oscar of Alva, produced by the Cracow Television, received both audience and critical acclaim at the International Festival of Television Operas in Salzburg in 1989. Her opera for children, Mister Marimba, which was in the repertory of the National Opera in Warsaw from 1998 until 2006, has enjoyed phenomenal success and popularity for eight consecutive seasons with 164 performances.
Her Holocaust Memorial Cantata gained international recognition when performed several times in 1993 under the baton of Lord Yehudi Menuhin.
Ptaszynska has been honored with many prizes and awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Fromm Music Foundation, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Alfred Jurzykowski Foundation Award in New York, multiple ASCAP Awards, the Award at the International Rostrum of Composers at the UNESCO in Paris, awards from the Percussive Arts Society. In 1995, she received “Officer Cross of Merit” of the Republic of Poland and in 2011 she received a very prestigious award of the Union of Polish Composers for the outstanding creative achievements in composition as well as the award of the Poland’s Minister of Culture and National Heritage.
Her music has been performed at many international festivals, including ISCM World Music Days, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, the Salzburg Festival, the Warsaw Autumn International Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, the Gulbenkian Foundation New Music Festival, Prix Futura in Berlin, Caramoor International Music Festival, and many others.
She studied composition, music theory and percussion at the Warsaw Academy of Music and worked privately with Witold Lutoslawski. As a French Government ‘s grant recipient, she studied with Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messiaen. In 1974, she received an Artist Diploma Degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music in Cleveland. Widely acclaimed as a virtuoso percussionist, for several decades she had performed extensively as a soloist percussionist, and had participated in many European and American festivals.
Over the years Ptaszynska has been teaching composition at many academic institutions such as Bennington College in Vermont, the University of California in Berkeley and in Santa Barbara, the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Indiana University in Bloomington, and Northwestern University in Evanston. In the years 1998-2018 Ptaszynska was a Professor of Music and in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. and held an endowed chair of Helen B. & Frank L. Sulzberger Professor of Composition.
Her music ic is published by PWM (Polish Music Publications) in Poland and by Theodore Presser in the U.S. Her works are recorded on many various labels around the world (CD Accord-Universal, Muza Polish Records, Olympia, Chandos, Dux, ProViva, and Bayers Records).