Born in Grodzisk Mazowiecki near Warsaw, during the Nazi occupation he studied composition privately with Bolesław Woytowicz and Kazimierz Sikorski, followed by studies with Piotr Rytel and Piotr Perkowski at the State High School of Music in Warsaw (1947-51). He also studied piano with Tadeusz Wituski and musicology at Warsaw University. One of the founding fathers of the Warsaw Autumn Festival, since 1974 he lectured at the Music Academy in Warsaw, becoming a professor and head of the Faculty of Composition in 1977. From 1979 he was a member of the Academy of Arts of the German Democratic Republic, and from 1976 chairman of the Polish section of the ISCM. His works have won top honours at the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers in Paris (1959, 1963, 1966). He has received many awards in Poland and abroad, including the Polish State Prize (1951, 1964, 1970), Award of the Minister of Culture and Fine Arts (1962), Musical Prize of the City of Cologne (1963), annual award of the Polish Composers' Union for lifetime achievement (1966), Koussevitzky Award (1968), Artistic Award of the City of Warsaw (1970), Alfred Jurzykowski Prize (New York, 1971), Arthur Honegger Prize (1974), Sibelius Award (1976), and the Prime Minister's Award.
Selected works: Symphony no. 1 (1950), Colas Breugnon, Suite in the Old Style (1951), Concerto for Orchestra (1953), Lyric Suite for soprano and orchestra to words by Julian Tuwim (1953), Cassazione per orchestra (1956), Four Love Sonnets for baritone and chamber orchestra to words by Shakespeare (1956), String Quartet (1957), Four Essays for orchestra (1958), Expressions for violin and orchestra (1959), Exhortation for reciting voice and orchestra to Old Hebrew words (1960), Love Songs for soprano and orchestra to words by Małgorzata Hillar (1961), Variations without a Theme for orchestra (1962), Epiphany Music for orchestra (1963), Dialogues for oboe and chamber orchestra (1964), Tomorrow, music drama to a libretto by Jerzy S. Sito after Joseph Conrad (1966), Four Songs for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra to words by Vesna Parun (1966), Four Novelettes for chamber orchestra (1967), Five Songs for mezzo-soprano and 16 instruments to words by Halina Poświatowska (1968), Sinfonia breve (1968), Symphony no. 3 (1969), GoetheBriefe, cantata for baritone, mixed choir and orchestra to words by Goethe and Charlotte von Stein (1970), Play for string quartet (1971), Psychodrama for orchestra (1972), Concerto for oboe and orchestra (1972), Elegeia for orchestra (1973), Concerto lugubre for viola and orchestra (1974-75), Scenes for cello, harp and orchestra (1977), Variations in Rondo Form for string quartet (1978), Canzona for orchestra (1980), Voices from a Distance, three songs for baritone and orchestra to words by Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz (1981).