EWCM evolved out of the former Polish-German Ensemble Workshop for Contemporary Music, initiated in 2003 by the German Music Council (Deutscher Musikrat) and the Warsaw Autumn festival. The workshop has two main objectives: firstly, to support young musicians interested in practising special contemporary music techniques and familiarising themselves with the contemporary repertoire; and secondly, to promote cultural exchange and artistic integration between the two countries as well as cooperation throughout the musical Europe.
The first workshop in 2003 focused on a meeting of the Kwartludium ensemble from Warsaw with young German musicians. After many days of rehearsals, the ensemble, led by Rüdiger Bohn, appeared in concert at the Warsaw Autumn festival, presenting contemporary works from Poland and Germany. The performance, held at Polish Radio’s Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio, featured world premieres of works written especially for the occasion. The ideas of premiering works by young composers from the two countries was continued in 2006 and 2007, notably thanks to commissions from the German Radio (Deutschlandfunk). New and less-known works have thus become part of the ensemble’s repertoire, which today includes works by Helmut Lachenmann, Wolfgang Rihm, Matthias Spahlinger, André Werner, Iannis Xenakis, and Witold Lutosławski as well as Joanna Woźny, Aleksander Szczetyński, and Lubava Sydorenko. The ensemble appeared at the Ultraschall Festival in Berlin and the international composers’ workshop Buckower Begegnungen, Contrasts Festival in Lviv, Milano Musica, Baltic Sea Festival in Stockholm, Tonlagen Dresden, Forum Neuer Musik in Cologne, and the Polish-German modern neighbourhood festival Neighbours 2.0 organised by the German Embassy and the Goethe Institute in Warsaw. At the invitation of the Berlin Academy of Arts, in October 2011 it presented works by young Polish composers as part of the Blickwechsel project.
In August 2014 the ensemble participated for the first time in the International Summer Courses for New Music in Darmstadt. In 2015, during rehearsals at the architecturally unique Kolumba art museum in Cologne, the musicians reacted to diverse spatial characteristics of the museum, developing an idiosyncratic concert dramaturgy.
After busy cooperations with the Cracow Academy of Music in 2013–15, in 2016 and 2017 the European Workshops took place at the Academy of Music in Łódź. In addition to concerts in Łódź and Warsaw, the EWCM also made a guest appearance at the Luxembourg Philharmonic. In 2018 and 2019 the European Workshops were held at the Academy of Music in Wrocław. The EWCM’s twentieth anniversary was celebrated with a concert at the Acht Brücken | Musik für Köln festival in the spring of 2023. This year’s workshops will be held, already for the fourth time, at the Chopin University of Music in Warsaw.