updated 18 May 2017

Elżbieta Sikora

Polish composer born 20 October 1943 in Lwów.

Elżbieta Sikora studied sound engineering at the Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, and then electroacoustic music with Pierre Schaeffer and François Bayle at GRM in Paris from 1978 to 1980. Upon her return to Warsaw, she undertook study of composition with Tadeusz Baird and Zbigniew Rudzinski. In 1973, with Wojciech Michniewski and Krzysztof Knittel, she co-founded KEW, a composers’ collective which organised concerts throughout Europe before being disbanded some years later.

In 1981, Sikora was awarded a nine-month study grant from the French government, and following the declaration of martial law in Poland on 13 December of that year, immigrated permanently to France, where she studied composition and analysis with Betsy Jolas and participated in workshops at IRCAM. She was later a guest at the CCRMA (Center for Computer Research for Music and Acoustics) at Stanford University, where she worked for several months with John Chowning.

From 1985 to 2008, she taught electroacoustic music at the Angoulême Conservatory, and from 2009 to 2017, was the director of the Musica Electronica Nova Festival in Wrocław.

Her catalogue comprises some sixty electroacoustic and instrumental works, including operas, ballets, and orchestral, chamber and solo pieces. Her music has been performed in several countries in Europe and in the United States, notably at festivals including Avignon, Dresdner Musikfestpiele, Warsaw Autumn, Fylkongen in Stockholm, Musica Electronica Nova, Présences, and the Bourges Festival of Electroaucoustic Music. She has received commissions from Radio France, IRCAM, GRM, Muse en Circuit, the Monte Carlo Ballet, and the French and Polish Ministries of Culture.

In 1981, an invitation from Tod Machover to work at IRCAM gave rise to the composition of Tête d’Orphée II for flute and electronics, which was premiered by Pierre-Yves Artaud and subsequently widely performed internationally. Deeply influenced by Pierre Schaeffer, she maintained a close connection to GRM, where in 1982, at the behest of François Bayle, she composed Janek Wiśniewski-Décembre-Pologne for tape, a work exploring the events which had taken place in Poland in December 1981.

Sikora has composed several operas, including the radio opera Derrière son double, commissioned by Radio France, L’Arrache-Cœur after Boris Vian, premiered at the Warsaw National Opera in 1995, and Madame Curie, commissioned to commemorate the centenary of the conferral of the Nobel Prize upon Marie Skłodowska-Curie, which was premiered at UNESCO in 2012 and subsequently reperformed at the Gdańsk Baltic Opera. She has also composed numerous works for fixed media, including Flashback, hommage à Pierre Schaeffer (1996) and Axe Rouge V (2012), and the ballets Blow-up (1980), The Waste Land (1983), and La Clef de verre (1986).

In 2017, she returned to the IRCAM studios to work on Sonosphère III. Symfonia Wrocławska and Sonosphère IV. Symfonia Wrocławska, both for orchestra and electronics, which were premiered in May 2017 at the Musica Electronica Nova Festival.

Many of her works have been awarded prizes: Ariadna received the second prize in the C. M. Weber International Composition Competition in Dresden in 1978; Guernica, hommage à Pablo Picasso received the first prize in the Mannheim Competition for Women Composers in 1981; Chant’Europe received the SACEM Pedagogical Prize in 1994; L’Arrache-Cœur received the SACD “New Musical Talent” Prize; Acquamarina received the Prix Magistère at Bourges; Le Chant de Salomon (2003) received an honourable mention from the Académie du Disque Lyrique; and finally, Madame Curie was awarded the Splendor Gedanensis Prize and the 2012 Artistic Prize from the Gdańsk Region.

Elżbieta Sikora was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland in 1997, and was made a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters in France in 2004.

Her works are published by Le Chant du Monde and PWM (Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne).

© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2017


Site de la compositrice.
Site des éditions PWM.


  • Cécile GILLY, « Elżbieta Sikora, l’écriture du son », dans L’Éducation musicale, 2009, n° 62, p. 20.
  • Marietta MORAWSKA-BÜNGELER, « Der ununterbrochene Fluss der Musik, die polnische Komponistin Elżbieta Sikora », dans MusikTexte, n° 86-87, 2000, p. 6-12.
  • Catherine SAINT-JAMES, Boris Vian et l’opéra, mémoire de maîtrise de musicologie, Université Rennes II, 1995.
  • Elżbieta SIKORA, « Son et image : liaison dangereuse », dans Marsyas, revue de pédagogie musicale et chorégraphique, n° 17, mars 1991.
  • Michèle TOSI, « Elżbieta Sikora, une compositrice polonaise engagée », dans L’Éducation musicale, avril 2016: article en ligne*,* https://www.leducation-musicale.com/index.php/recensions-de-spectacles/5666-elzbieta-sikora-une-compositrice-polonaise-engagee (lien vérifié en mai 2017).


  • Elżbieta SIKORA, Flashback ; View from the Window ; The Head of Orpheus ; The Night Face Up ; The Second Journey, 3 cd Bôłt Records : Polish Radio Experimental Studio, 2012.
  • Elżbieta SIKORA, South Shore, Isabelle Perrin, harpe ; Philarmonie Baltique de Gdansk ; Jerzy Maksymiuk, direction, 1 cd DUX, 2009, 0713.
  • Elżbieta SIKORA, La Tête d’Orphée II ; Suite ; Suite II ; Reflets Irisés, Emmanuelle Ophèle, flûte ; David Simpson, violoncelle ; Goska Isphording, clavecin ; Wilhem Latchoumia, piano, 1 cd DUX, 2008, 0679.
  • Elżbieta SIKORA, Reflets irisées, avec des œuvres de Francisco Kröpfl, Dieter Kaufmann, Mathew Adkins, … et al. dans « Compendium International Bourges 2005 », 1 cd IMEB 2008.
  • Elżbieta SIKORA, Rappel III, Orchestre de chambre de la Radio Polonaise ; Agnieszka Duczmal, direction, 1 cd PRCD, 2004, 096.
  • Elżbieta SIKORA, Grain de sable, dans « Compendium International Bourges 2001 » avec des œuvres de Christian Clozier, Beatriz Ferreyra, Horacio Vaggione et Patrick Ascione, 1 cd Mnemosyne Musique Média, 2002, LDC 278 11 22/23.
  • Elżbieta SIKORA, Rouge d’été, avec des œuvres de Lorenzo Ferrero, Alain Savouret, Beatriz Ferreyra, … et al. dans « Les Saisons », 1 cd Chrysopée Electronique, 2002, LDC 278 11 26/29.
  • Elżbieta SIKORA, Lisboa, tramway 28 ; Janek Wi**śniewski, décembre, Pologne, Daniel Kientzy, saxophone, 1 cd Ina-GRM, 2001, e5011 275 842.
  • Elżbieta SIKORA, Le Chant de Salomon ; Solo pour violon ; Canzona ; Drei Lieder Eine Rose als Stütze ; Rappel III, Olga Loustiv-Ternovskaia, soprano ; Maria Bulgakova, soprano ; Alexandre Kalashkov, violon ; Mikhail Dubov, piano ; Alla Vasilieva, viole de gambe ; Ensemble de Musique Contemporaine de Moscou ; Orchestre à cordes de l’Orchestre National de Russie ; Jean Thorel, direction, 1 cd Le Chant du Monde, 2003, LDC 2781118.
  • Elżbieta SIKORA, La Tête d’Orphée ; Aquamarina, avec des œuvres de Patrick Kosk, Jacky Merit, Kent Olofsson, … et al. dans « Cultures électroniques 13 », 1 cd IMEB, 1981, LCD278070/71.
  • Elżbieta SIKORA, Rappel II, Orchestre Philharmonique de Poznan ; Wojciech Michniewski, direction ; Fréderic Curien, transformation en temps réel, dans « Warsaw Autumn 89 », 1 disque Polskie Nagrania Muza, 1982, 2858.
  • Elżbieta SIKORA, La Tête d’Orphée II, Jadwiga Kotnowska, flûte, dans « Warsaw Autumn 82 », 1 disque Polskie Nagrania Muza, 1982, 2739.
  • Elżbieta SIKORA, Ariadna, Ewa Ignatowicz, soprano ; Lidia Juranek, mezzo-soprano ; Ensemble Instrumental de l’Opéra de chambre de Varsovie ; Jacek Kasprzyk, direction, 1 disque Polskie Nagrania Muza, 1979, SX 1778.

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