born in 1947 in Warsaw, he studied sound engineering and composition with Tadeusz Baird, Andrzej Dobrowolski and Włodzimierz Kotoński at the Fryderyk Chopin State High School of Music in Warsaw. He is now a professor emeritus at the Chopin University of Music and the music academies in Łódź and Kraków, where he has taught composition, interactive improvisation, electronic and computer music, as well as moderated contemporary music workshops for jazz musicians. He has cooperated with the Polish Radio Experimental Studio (from 1973) and worked at the Center for the Creative and Performing Arts at the State University of New York at Buffalo (in 1978).
He composes orchestral, choral and chamber music, performs electroacoustic and computer works, writes for the opera and ballet, and builds sound installations. His discography comprises more than 50 albums. He has given performances in most European countries, Asia, and the Americas. Concerts dedicated exclusively to his music have been held in Barcelona, Brno, Budapest, Buffalo, Cracow, Kroměříž, Leipzig, Lviv, Moscow, New York City, São Paulo, and Warsaw. He served as director of the Warsaw Autumn Festival (1995–98), president of the Polish Composers’ Union (1999–2003), president of the Polish Music Council (2005–17), as well as member of the Board of the European Music Council (2014–18). In 2006 he founded the Ad Libitum international festival of the art of improvisation.
Among his accolades are the Solidarity Award for Music (1985), Polish Composers’ Union Prize and Cyprian Norwid Prize (2003), and the Gloria Artis Silver Medal of Merit to Culture (2005). In 1998 he received a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts in New York, and in 2017, the Gustav Mahler Composition Prize and the Theatre Award of the City of Gdańsk for his opera The Last Judgement.
Krzysztof Knittel is the cofounder of several improvised music ensembles: KEW Composers Group (1973–75), Cytula Tyfun da Bamba Orkiester (1981), Independent Electroacoustic Music Studio (1982–84), interdisciplinary group Freight Train (1986–2017), European Improvisation Orchestra (1996–98), CH&K&K (since 1999), and Mud Cavaliers (since 2003).
Selected works (since 2000): Out of the Depths Have I Cried unto Thee, O Lord... to psalm texts (2000), Sonatas da camera nos. 8–20 for various performers (2000–16), El maale rahamim... for mixed choir and symphony orchestra (2001), Norwid Songs for soprano and piano (2001), The Circus Has Come for soprano, female dancer, flute, cello, piano, prepared piano and two CDs (2003), V2R Trio (Grand River Trio) for clarinet, violin, piano and CD (2003), To Touch a Snake From the Inside, touch and sound installation (2003), The Passion of Our Lord according to St Matthew for voices, mixed choir, two percussion players, string orchestra and electronics (2004), A Memoir of the Warsaw Uprising for five actors, female choir, piano, cello and symphony orchestra (2004), Concerto for harpsichord and orchestra (2004), Social / Anti-Social, performance and video installation (2005), Vagante for soloists, orchestra and tape (2005), Toccata for symphony orchestra (2007), Cheap Imitations, chamber music for flute, clarinet, piano, string quartet and tape (2008), Snatches of Memory II for two pianos and surround computer sounds with video (2007),The Four Seasons, sound installation (2008), Meetings (in Two Unfinished Acts), music for Polish Dance Theatre and Grand Theatre in Łódź (2011), free for(m) macwin nos. 1–3, electroacoustic music (2011–18), Partita 1 (Koori)for saxophone, symphony orchestra, and electronic media (2013), Partita II (Inuit)for flute, string orchestra, and electronic media (2013), AD-W2014 for actor, improvising soloists, orchestra and choir (2014), The Last Judgement, opera (2017), Like a Stone, oratorio for improvising soloists and choir (2017), Oneg Szabat for flute, violin, cello, amateur choir, video, and electronic media (2019), Canticum profugorum, oratorio for voices, choir, and orchestra (2020), Voices for four actors, chamber choir, chamber orchestra and electronic sounds (2021), Concert at Przyczółek Grochowski (2021).