Warsaw Autumn Festival – its role and significance for the musical life of the countries on both sides of the Iron Curtain (and after its fall)

4th Conference in the “Polish Music Abroad” series

Warsaw, 16–17 September 2021

Conference organised by the Department of Musicology, Institute of Art, Polish Academy of Sciences in collaboration with the Polish Composers’ Union

Invitation to participants

The aim of the fourth conference devoted to Polish music abroad is to reflect on the role 
and significance of the Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music to the music and musical life of countries of both sides of the Iron Curtain – also after its fall. Warsaw Autumn is not the only festival of new music, but its position has been unique from the very beginning – the festival was launched in 1956 on the wave of a political thaw and for many years it was often the only source of information about new musical trends for the musical circles in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries. At the same time, by coming to Warsaw the West had an opportunity to get to know contemporary music created in Poland and in other countries on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain. Warsaw Autumn as a place where the East and the West met has been discussed on numerous occasions. Nevertheless, after all these years it is worth looking back at this unique festival – its history as well as the political and culture-creating role it has played for composers and artists both from the East and from the West. Did Warsaw Autumn and the music presented at the festival leave a permanent mark on the music and cultural life of the world divided as it was by the Iron Curtain? And since its fall – how has the role of Warsaw Autumn changed? What was the significance of Warsaw Autumn after 1989 and what role does the festival play today, in a completely different geopolitical reality? We encourage you to join the discussion about all these topics, taking into account various views and methodological perspectives.

The thematic scope of the conference will focus on the following issues in particular:

  • Warsaw Autumn as a place of encounters between musicians from the eastern and western parts of the musical world, divided by the Iron Curtain;
  • culture-creating role of Warsaw Autumn – creating models of new music in
    composition (including the impact of the festival on the development of new music in Poland and the world), performance, participation in culture etc.; 
  • Warsaw Autumn in the panorama of festivals of new music – what made/makes this festival stand out among all the others?
  • Warsaw Autumn as a point of reference for other festivals in Poland and the world.


Please send us suggested paper topics with abstracts of no more than 250 words by 
e-mail (beata.boleslawska@ispan.pl or jolanta.guzy-pasiak@ispan.pl) by 31 January 2021. Please give your degree, affiliation, e-mail address and telephone number.

Information about acceptance of submissions will be given by 15 February 2021.

Allocated time for each paper – 20 minutes plus 10 minutes for a discussion.

Conference language – English.

Conference fee:  EUR 80 or PLN 350.

The bank account number and payment deadline will be given after acceptance of conference submissions.

The fee covers conference materials, coffee breaks and lunches, and admission to the inaugural concert of the 2021 Warsaw Autumn Festival.

We are planning to publish the conference proceedings.

Programme Committee

Dr hab. Beata Bolesławska-Lewandowska, Institute of Art, Polish Academy of Sciences, Polish Composers’ Union

Dr hab. Jolanta Guzy-Pasiak, Institute of Art, Polish Academy of Sciences

Dr hab. Iwona Lindstedt, Institute of Musicology, University of Warsaw, Polish Composers’ Union

Dr Mieczysław Kominek, President of the Polish Composers’ Union

Jerzy Kornowicz, Director of the Warsaw Autumn Festival



The conference will be held in the Sobieski Room, Institute of Art, Polish Academy of Sciences, ul. Długa 26, Warsaw.