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

This text was originally published under the theme “Polish Radio Experimental Studio: A Close Look”. The theme was developed in partnership with Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź (MSŁ). It was edited by Magdalena Moskalewicz, MoMA with Daniel Muzyczuk, MSŁ. The original content items in this theme can be found here.

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 An even greater amount remains unpublished.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I have listened to miles of undocumented tapes, some of them recorded on speeds or multitracks that are decades out of date.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).


2 CDs, Bolt Records BRES 06, Warsaw, 2012

English, Polish

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.

Anthology of noise and electronic music # 7 by multiple authors

3 CDs, Sub Rosa SR 300, Brussels, 2012

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.

Awangarda by Włodzimierz Kotoński

CD, Polskie Nagrania, Warsaw, 2013

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

Blanc et rouge by Krzysztof Knittel, Bohdan Mazurek, Krzysztof Penderecki, Maria Pokrzywińska, Eugeniusz Rudnik, Elżbieta Sikora, PRES collective, and anonymous composers

3 CDs, Bolt Records BRES 07, Warsaw, 2012

English, Polish

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.

DJ Lenar Re:PRES by Eugeniusz Rudnik and Marcin Lenarczyk

3 CDs, Bolt Records BRES 05, Warsaw, 2012

English, Polish

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

Eastern-Waves: Warszawa-Oslo by Arne Nordheim, Kåre Kolberg and Eugeniusz Rudnik

CD, Bolt Records, Warsaw, 2013

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 sound installation by Nordheim and Rudnik.

ERdada na taśmę by Bolesław Błaszczyk, Eugeniusz Rudnik

CD, Requiem Records Exclusive Archive Series 64/2013, Warsaw, 2014

English, Polish

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 sound installation by Nordheim and Rudnik.

Katyń 1940 by Andrzej Panufnik and Henryk Mikołaj Górecki

4 CDs, Polish Radio PRCD 1097-1100, Warsaw, 2008

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).

Katyń 1940 by Eugeniusk Rudnik

CD, Requiem Records, Warsaw (to be released in 2014)

English, Polish

Description: 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.

PRES revisited – Józef Patkowski in memoriam

2 CDs, Bolt Records BRES 01, Warsaw, 2010

English, Polish

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 Maciej Sledziecki and cellist Mikolaj Palosz, Polish musicians of a younger generation. Their collaborations were framed by graphic scores based on original recording and prepared by Denis Kolokol. His attempt was to make use of the idiosyncratic instrumental language of each of the improvisers; language that owes so much to the development of electronic music. Liner notes in Polish and English by B. Błaszczyk.

PRES Scores by Andrzej Dobrowolski, Włodzimierz Kotoński

2 CDs, Bolt Records BRES 09, Warsaw, 2012

English, Polish

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 Kurek, Marion Wörle and Małe Instrumenty, were commissioned by Bolt Records. Liner notes in Polish and English by Bolesław Błaszczyk and Michał Libera.

Requiem sampler by multiple authors

CD, Requiem Records, Warsaw, in association with Polish music journals Glissando and Lizard, 2013

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

Rękopis znaleziony w Saragossie – The Saragossa Manuscript

LP, CD, OBUH Records, Poland, 2005 (LP OBUH V24, hand-numbered edition of 500), 2009 (CD OBUH D24)

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

Secret poems by Krzysztof Knittel, Wojciech Michniewski and Elżbieta Sikora

CD, Bolt Records BRES 04, Warsaw, 2012.

English, Polish

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.

Secret poems by Krzysztof Knittel, Wojciech Michniewski and Elżbieta Sikora

CD, Bolt Records BRES 02, Warsaw, 2012.

English, Polish

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.

Solitude of sounds: in memoriam Tomasz Sikorski by Szabolcs Esztenyi, Kasia Głowicka and Tomasz Sikorski

CD, Bolt Records BRES 08, Warsaw, 2013.

English, Polish

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. Błaszczyk.

Sounding The Body Electric: Experiments in Art and Music in Eastern Europe 1957–1984 by Wojciech Bruszewski, Hugh Davies, Szablocs Esztényi, Milan Grygar, Georgy Kizevalter, Rudolf Komorous, Sergei Letov, Andrey Monastyrski, Arne Nordheim, Nikolai Panitkov, Vladan Radovanović, Elena Romanova, Sergei Romashko, Eugeniusz Rudnik, John Tilbury

CD, Bolt Records ES 10, in association with Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź, 2013

English, Polish

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 Muzyczuk.

Studio Eksperymentalne Polskiego Radia– Polish Radio Experimental Studio by Eugeniusz Rudnik

4 CDs, Polish Radio, 2008

English, Polish

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

Zeitkratzer plays PRES by Dennis Eberhard, Krzysztof Knittel, Bohdan Mazurek, Eugeniusz Rudnik and Elżbieta Sikora

CD, Bolt Records BRES 03, Warsaw, 2013

English, Polish

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 Polish and English by Reinhold Friedl.

„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) by Bolesław Błaszczyk

The History of Polish Radio, yearbook 2005 / 2006

Publisher: Polskie Radio, Warsaw


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.

Sounding The Body Electric: Experiments in Art and Music in Eastern Europe 1957–1984 by David Crowley , Daniel Muzyczuk

Exhibition catalogue from Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź, 2012.

English, Polish

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 Fluxus artist Milan Knižák. An exhibition of the same title, curated by David Crowley and Daniel Muzyczuk, originated at the Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź, in 2012 and traveled to Calvert 22 Foundation, London, in 2013. A CD of musical recordings presented in the exhibition has been issued by Bolt Records.

Ku Formie Otwartej (Towards Open Form) by Oksar Hansen

Fundacja Galerii Foksal, Warsaw; Muzeum ASP, Warsaw; Revolver, Frankfurt, 2005.


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.

Muzyka elektroniczna (Electronic Music) by Włodzimierz Kotoński

PWM, Kraków, Compendium Musicum series, 2002


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.

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

Publication: The functions of sound and music in radio piece, Materials of symposium. 1976

Publisher: PRiTV, Warsaw


Theoretical analysis of skills developed at PRES through experimental practice.

“Tape never lies” by Michał Libera

Publication: Format P #5, Warsaw, 2011

Polish, English, German, Russian, Spanish, Ukrainian

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, myths, “phantom” works and unverifiable eyewitness accounts (including Rudnik’s) related to 20th-century art, architecture and music made at PRES, among other places. Other contributors include Warsaw Museum of Modern Art curator Sebastian Cichocki and architects Grzegorz Piątek and Jarosław Trybuś, who were awarded the Golden Lion at the 2008 Architecture Biennale in Venice.

Horyzonty muzyki (Music Horizons) by Józef Patkowski and Anna Akrzyńska

Publisher: PWM, Cracow. Biblioteka Res Facta nr 1, 1969


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).

“Kilka uwag o pracy kompozytora w studio” (A few notes about the work of the composer in the studio)

In Muzyka w Radio 1/1976

Publisher: Wydawnictwa Radia i Telewizji (Radio and Television Publishing), Warsaw


Studio Eksperyment / Studio Experiment by various authors

Muzyka no. 1/1975

Publisher: Fundacja Bęc Zmiana, Warsaw, 2012

English, Polish

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 Rudnik, Krzysztof Szwajgier, “Geography of Experiment”

Michał Libera, “There is no experimenting. There is simply work”

Barbara Okoń-Makowska, “Producer”

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

Sound Exchange. Anthology of Experimental Music Cultures in Central and Eastern Europe 1950–2010. Online Resource.

English, Polish, German

Sound Exchange

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” (1960)

Agata Pyzik, “Warsaw Experimenters”

Eugeniusz Rudnik, “By Way of Gesture,” interview with Zuzanna Solakiewicz

Eugeniusz Rudnik, “At Work Alone,” interview with Magdalena Radziejowska

Eugeniusz Rudnik, “Light and Sound,” interview with Tadeusz Zimecki

Krzysztof Szlifirski, “The Polish Radio Experimental Studio”

Aela. Muzyka Elektroniczna (Aela: Electronic Music) by Włodzimierz Kotoński

Polish, English, German

PWM, Cracow; PRES, Warsaw; Moeck Verlag, Celle, 1975

Etiuda na jedno uderzenie w talerz (Study for One Cymbal Stroke) by Włodzimierz Kotoński

Polish, English, German

PWM, Cracow; PRES, Warsaw 1972

Muzyka na smyczki, 2 grupy instrumentów dętych i 2 głośniki (Music for Strings, Two Groups of Wind Instruments, and Two Loudspeakers) by Włodzimierz Kotoński

PWM, Cracow, 1969.

Published in 1966.

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

Polskie Nagrania Muza ZL-428, PWM, Cracow, 1964

Polish, English, German

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.”

Muzyka na taśmę magnetofonową i obój solo (Music for Magnetic Tape and Oboe Solo) by Andrzej Dobrowolski

Polskie Nagrania Muza ‎ ZL-502, PWM, Cracow, 1968

Polish, English, German

Score and vinyl EP 7″ record

Muzyka na taśmę magnetofonową i fortepian solo (Music for Magnetic Tape and Piano Solo) by Andrzej Dobrowolski

Polskie Nagrania Muza ‎ Z-SN-568, PWM, Cracow, 1968

Polish, English, German

Score and vinyl EP 7″ record

Symfonia–muzyka elektroniczna (Symphony–Electronic Music)

PWM, Cracow Polskie Nagrania Muza ‎ ZL-464, ZL-465

Polish, English

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 possibilities.

Podręczny Słownik Rudniko-polski (Concise Rudnik–Polish Dictionary) by Barbara Okoń and Dorota Szwarcman

Manuscript. Unique, 1974


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.

Dziennik pracy Oboe 812 (Working diary Oboe 812) by Eugeniusz Rudnik

Manuscript. Unique, 1964-1965


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.

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

Manuscript. Unique, 1969-?


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

“Konsultacja” (Consultation) by Eugeniusz Rudnik

Manuscript. Unique, 1971-1985.


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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