After his first, unsuccessful attempt to embark on a musical education, Panufnik became a student at the Warsaw Conservatory in 1932. He studied percussion for the first half year, and then went on to study the subjects in which he was truly and passionately interested, that is, theory of music and composition, in the class of Kazimierz Sikorski. He graduated with distinction in 1936.
During the war, on the initiative of the Central Welfare Council, a number of concerts took place at the Conservatory’s concert hall. Two of them included first performances of Panufnik’s works written at that time: Tragic Overture and Symphony No. 2.
The concert was again like a mountain peak high above the clouds of our wretched everyday life. The response from both orchestra and audience was headier for me than the finest vodka, and my eyes filled with tears of exhilaration and amazement as, at the end of the concert, I heard a tremendous ovation and many voices shouting in chorus, 'We have a conductor! We have a director for the Warsaw Philharmonic when the war is over!'