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WOJCIECH KILAR REVIEWS – 1964-2007

September 24, 2017 Leave a comment

In this latest installment of the new irregular series looking at the career of some film music’s most iconic composers, we travel to Poland to look at the work of one of film music’s most unsung geniuses, Wojciech Kilar.

Wojciech Kilar was born in Lvov, Ukraine, when it was still part of Poland, in July 1932, but moved to Katowice in Silesia in 1948 with his father, a gynecologist, and his mother, an actress. Kilar studied at the State Higher School of Music in Katowice under composer and pianist Władysława Markiewiczówna, at the State Higher School of Music in Kraków under composer and pianist Bolesław Woytowicz, and then in Paris with the legendary Nadia Boulanger in the late 1950s. Upon his return to Poland, Kilar and fellow composers Henryk Górecki and Krzysztof Penderecki led an avant-garde music movement in the 1960s, during which time he wrote several acclaimed classical works.

Kilar scored his first film in 1959, and went on to write music from some of Poland’s most acclaimed directors, including Krzysztof Kieślowski, Krzysztof Zanussi, Kazimierz Kutz, and Andrzej Wajda. He worked on over 100 titles in his home country, but he did not score an major English-language film until Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1992.

In addition to his film work, Kilar’s classical output includes such masterworks as Krzesany (1974), a symphonic poem for orchestra, inspired by the “highlander” music of the Tatra mountains region of southern Poland; Exodus (1979), a religious choral piece used in the trailers for Schindler’s List, and others such as Prelude and Christmas Carol (1972), Mount Kościelec 1909 (1976), Angelus (1984), Orawa (1986), and Choralvorspiel (1988). His third, fourth and fifth symphonies – the September Symphony (2003), the Symphony of Motion (2005) and the Advent Symphony (2007) – were among his last major completed works. Kilar died on December 29, 2013, at his home in Katowice, after a battle with cancer, aged 81. Read more…