Jan Radzynski is a native of Warsaw, where he was born into a musical family. His mother encouraged and guided him in his early piano studies; and prior to the First World War, one of his great-grandfathers had been an army bandmaster in the military establishment of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
In 1969 Radzynski made aliya (settled in Israel) and studied at the music academy at Tel Aviv University. He graduated with diplomas in cello and in composition and theory in 1974 and received a bachelor of music degree as well. He furthered his composition studies with the Chilean-born Israeli composer León Schidlowsky. In 1977 he came to the United States to pursue graduate work, studying composition at Yale University with the world-renowned Polish composer Krzystof Penderecki, and then with Jacob Druckman. He received a master's degree in 1979 and another in 1980, followed by his doctorate in 1984. For fourteen years, beginning in 1980, he taught on Yale's faculty, and in 1994 he joined the faculty of The Ohio State University as a professor of composition-a post he has held since. He has also served there on the faculty of the Melton Center for Jewish Studies, and he has twice been a visiting professor at the University of Chicago.
At Ohio State, Radzynski founded a festival that focuses on serious contemporary music by Israeli composers as well as music related to Jewish experience by composers in the Diaspora.
Among Radzynski's many significant works, in addition to those included originally in the Milken Archive, are his Serenade for Strings (2000); Concerto for cello and orchestra (1990/92), often cited as first bringing him to international attention; Time's Other Beat, for symphony orchestra; Say to the Youth, for three-part women's or children's choir, to a text by the medieval Hebrew Spanish poet Solomon Ibn Gabirol; Encounters, for chamber ensemble; Serenade, for woodwind quintet; David, a symphony in one movement; Three Tunes, for piano quintet; Psalms, for solo violin and eight violoncelli; Tre Madrigali per Voci e Strumenti, settings of three sonnets by Petrarch, for soprano solo, women's chorus, four clarinets, bassoon, and harp; Homage to Itzik Manger, an instrumental ode to that famous Yiddish poet, for an ensemble of nine players; and Take Five, for brass quintet.
Radzynski's many honors and awards include two ASCAP Awards; a Mellon Fellowship; a Morse Fellowship; a Distinguished Scholar Award from The Ohio State University; Yale University Griswold Research Grants; a summer residency at the Foundation Artist's House in Boswil, Switzerland; and a residency at Mishkenot Sha'ananim in Israel. His music has been performed by the Cleveland Orchestra, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, the Krakow Philharmonic, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Radio Orchestra Cologne, the Israel Chamber Orchestra, the Israel Sinfonietta, the Mexican National Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Bolshoi Theater Chamber Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, and the Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra.