Wojciech Kilar – a distinguished composer and pianist, who authored music for over 130 films, died on Sunday, December 29. His compositions appeared in films such as The Pianist by Roman Polański, or Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula.
Wojciech Kilar, photo by: Piotr Małecki / Forum
“He was one of the most distinct figures of the 20th and 21st century” – says Jerzy Kornowicz, president of the Association of Polish Composers. Kornowicz also reminds us that Wojciech Kilar was one of the co-founders of the so-called Polish School of Composition, associated with the avant-garde movement.
Later he started following his own path. He was creating expressive music, marked by clarity of stylistic choices and symbolism. One ought to remember that he was a magnificent composer, gifted with the talent for musical shortcuts. – he recounts.
Waldemar Dąbrowski, former director of the Warsaw Opera House and ex-Minister of Culture, reminisces about Kilar:
He was one of the pillars,and giants of Polish culture, in the broadest meaning of the word […] Not only was he an exceptional composer, naturally complementing the great trio: Penderecki, Lutosławski, Górecki; He was also a type of philosopher, and for those of us who knew him – an authority, a figure to lean on. This does not mean that we took everything he said or thought for granted, but that he was an extremely important point of reference for us.
Born in Lviv in 1932, he was strongly tied to Katowice in the Upper Silesia region for over 60 years of his career. In 2006, he became an honourary citizen of the city, which he used to call his second - after his birth-town – “little motherland”.
Kilar composed pieces for orchestra, chamber compositions, compositions for vocals and instruments, and for piano; he composed film music, and co-formed the Polish avant-garde movement. Foreign audiences recognize him mostly for his film scores; he wrote music for over 130 features. He collaborated with directors such as Jane Campion, Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Polański, Andrzej Wajda, or Krzysztof Zanussi. Although it was his cooperation with Francis Ford Coppola on Dracula (1992) that consolidated the composer's position in the film world, it seems that it was in fact the films of Krzysztof Zanussi that inspired Kilar to the highest levels of artistic achievement.
He authored music for some of the most famous Polish productions, such as Marek Piwowski’s Rejs or Pan Tadeusz by Andrzej Wajda, for the latter composing a Polonaise. The artist often emphasized that creating music tends to be a difficult and onerous task. When he was awarded the honoris causa doctorate of the University of Silesia, he said:
one day one may be certain that something is good, and then, on another, doubts arise […] and so it goes, practically without a stop, until the encounter with the performers, and with the audience, which makes its own judgements.
On his 75th birthday, at a meeting with his fans, Kilar confessed that he feels most comfortable “at home, in the quiet, with his relatives, and with his car”. He would become most thrilled, however, upon his encounters with a symphonic orchestra. He would say: “when I see the violinists leaning over their instruments, the gold of the trumpets, and drums on the other side – that is just marvellous”.
Sources: PAP, culture.pl, translated and edited by AM, 29.12.2013