December 29, 2013

Polish composer Wojciech Kilar dies at age 81

The composer wrote scores for many films, including Roman Polanski’s Oscar-winning “The Pianist” and Francis Ford Coppola’s “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.”

By Monika Scislowska
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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In this May 6, 2011 file photo Polish pianist and composer Wojciech Kilar is pictured in Katowice, Poland. Kilar, who wrote classical music works and scores for many films, including Roman Polanski’s Oscar-winning “The Pianist” and Francis Ford Coppola’s “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” died Sunday. He was 81.

The Associated Press

Most of his works were written for symphony orchestras – often with a solo voice, or instrument or choir – and range from symphonies and concertos to religious choral pieces such as the powerful “Exodus” of 1981, “Angelus” in 1984, and the “Magnificat,” written in 2006.

Kilar was born on July 17, 1932, in Lviv, a former Polish city now in Ukraine, to a doctor and an actress. The family moved to Rzeszow in southeastern Poland, then to Katowice in the south, where Kilar continued the musical education that he had started in Rzeszow.

He studied piano, music theory and composition in Rzeszow, Krakow and Katowice before graduating in 1955 with top honors from the State Music Academy in Katowice.

He made Katowice – the heart of Poland’s industrial and coal mining region – his home, finding charm and peace in the area and its people.

A well-known anecdote says that when Coppola asked the composer what it took to write music like his, Kilar cryptically replied: “You need to live in Katowice.” He was known to also consider Katowice a place of hard work, where toil and effort are respected.

At a 2006 meeting with his music fans, Kilar said he was happiest “at home, in silence, with my loved ones, with my cat.” But he also said it was fantastic to conduct a symphony orchestra and see “violinists bent over their instruments, the gold of the brass, the drums on the other side.”

In 2003 the British Academy of Film and Television Arts gave the composer an award for his score for “The Pianist.” Kilar also wrote music for Polanski’s “The Ninth Gate.” In Poland, he was known for working with three influential Polish film directors: Andrzej Wajda, Krzysztof Kieslowski, and Krzysztof Zanussi.

Kilar told the PLUS journal he would like to be remembered as a “good human being, someone who brought a little happiness, hope and reflection into life and into the world and perhaps a bit of faith.”

His wife of over 40 years, Barbara, died in 2007. They had no children.

Kilar will be buried in Katowice on Saturday in a ceremony starting with a Mass at the Arch Cathedral of Christ the King.

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