Henryk Gorecki, whose contemporary symphony sold more than a million copies, died Friday in Katowice after a long illness. He was 76, dpa reported.
Gorecki gained international fame in 1992 when his Symphony of Sorrowful Songs (1976) topped the classical music charts in the United States and Britain.
The work in three movements draws inspiration from folk songs, religious laments and a message written on a prison cell wall during World War II.
Gorecki was known as a forerunner of Poland`s avant-garde music scene in the 1950s and gained recognition for his radical or dissonant compositions.
Born in 1933 in the village of Czernica, southern Poland, Gorecki studied composition at the State Higher School of Music in Katowice.
Gorecki later composed a work to mark Pope John Paul II's visit to Poland in 1979. He withdrew for a time from public life when martial law was declared in 1981 and focused on choral and chamber works.