Born in 1979, he graduated from the Karol Szymanowski Music Academy in Katowice as a student of Aleksander Lasoń (2001–6), and from the University of Louisville School of Music where he studied with Steve Rouse (2006–8). From 2008, he has taught composition, instrumentation, and musical notation at the Department of Composition and Music Theory of the Music Academy in Katowice, where in 2010 he received a PhD in Composition.
His instrumental and vocal–instrumental music has been performed in Poland, Europe, and the United States by artists such as Bartłomiej Duś, Ricardo Gallen, Eugeniusz Knapik, Łukasz Kuropaczewski, Piotr Pławner, Piotr Sałajczyk, and Agata Szymczewska, and also ensembles: Alarm Will Sound, Warsaw CELLONET Group, Lasoń Ensemble, Ensemble Modern, London Sinfonietta, Pardubice Chamber Philharmonic, Kwartludium, Silesian Quartet, AUKSO Chamber Orchestra, New Music Orchestra, Silesian Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, and the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Opera occupies an important place in his output. In 2009 and 2010, his chamber opera Sudden Rain was staged at the Grand Theatre – National Opera in Warsaw, composed to a libretto by Anna Konieczna and directed by Maja Kleczewska. In 2012, Spoon River to texts by Edgar Lee Masters, composed on cooperation with Adam Dudek, was staged at the Warsaw Autumn Festival. March 2015 saw the premiere of Space Opera to a libretto by Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov, directed by Ewelina Pietrowiak and composed on a commission from the Grand Theatre in Poznań. In 2018, the Cracow Festival Bureau commissioned the opera ahat ilī – Sister of Gods to a libretto by Olga Tokarczuk. Aleksander Nowak’s accolades include notably the Polish Public Media Opus Award (2008), Young Poland fellowship (2010), Cultural Guarantees Award (2011), Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage scholarship, and Moritz von Bomhard Fellowship.
Since 2011, Aleksander Nowak has served as President of the Katowice branch of the Polish Composers’ Union, which also organises the Silesian Modern Music Days and Silesian Rostrum of Composers. He also coordinates the Brand–New Music festival. The works of Aleksander Nowak are published by PWM Edition.
Selected works: June–December Sonata for violin and piano (2005), Fiddler’s Green and White Savannas Never More for chamber orchestra and male voices (2006), Last Days of Wanda B. for string orchestra (2006), Songs of Caress for soprano and piano trio (2007), Sudden Rain, chamber opera for soprano, baritone and chamber orchestra (2008), Quantemporette for clarinet, trombone, cello and piano (2008), String Quartet no. 1 (2009), Dark-Haired Girl in a Black Sports Car for chamber orchestra (2009), King of the Cosmos Disappears, concerto for orchestra, threads and piano (2009), Little Partita for violin and piano (2010), 3, Peaceful St for eight cellos (2010), Undertows for cello and piano (2010), Still Life with Mary for video, cello and electronics (2010– 11), Satin for cello and accordion (2011), Cry Little Baby, Cry, miniconcerto for violin and chamber orchestra (2011), Breaking News for symphony orchestra and synthetic voice (2011), String Quartet no. 2 (2011–12), Concerto for oddly-tuned guitar and chamber orchestra (2012), Night Transit for chamber orchestra (2012), Hit 2 for chamber orchestra (2012), From the Upper Floor for violin and percussion (2012–13), Spoon River Anthology, music for a multimedia installation by Adam Dudek (2012–13), Half-Filled Diary for cello, percussion and strings (2013), Chisk and Robot for accordion, megaphone and orchestra (2013), Space Opera for soloists, choir and orchestra to a libretto by Georgi Gospodinov (2013–14), NANINANA for amplified keyboard instrument and strings (2015), Sonata in ree Tunings for violin and guitar (2015), The Sky in Niedabyl for saxophone and sinfonietta (2015), Music for the Railrodder for clarinet, violin, percussion and piano (2016), Eludium et Fungus for guitar (2016), Infraludefor flute, violin and cello (2013–16), ahat ilī – Sister of Gods, opera to a libretto by Olga Tokarczuk (2018), to the words for choir and orchestra (2018).