"I've been greatly influenced by the Impressionists – Debussy and Ravel - whose music is also of that type that is really seen." - Wojciech Kilar

Wojciech Kilar is probably best known for the soundtrack to Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and sadly not for the fact that he is one of Poland's greatest composers.

His name is pronounced Voy-check Kee-lar, the first 'ch' like the one in 'church' and the second like the one in 'loch'.

He was born on July the 17th 1932 in Lwów, Poland, (though Lwów is now L'viv and part of the Ukraine), and has composed orchestral music, chamber vocal-instrumental and piano compositions, as well as film and theatre music.

A classically trained pianist, Kilar studied at some of Poland's finest music academies, including the State Higher School of Music in Katowice, where he studied piano performance and composition, and received his diploma, graduating with top honours. He then studied as a post-graduate student at the State College of Music (now the Music Academy) in Krakow. He was given the opportunity to study composition under the tutelage of Nadia Boulanger at the Conservatoire in Paris having received a grant from the French government. In the early 1960's he created, together with Krzysztof Penderecki and Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki, the Polish Vanguard School, and first participated in the new direction in modern music called sonorism.

In 1991 Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Zanussi made a biographical film about him, called simply WOJCIECH KILAR. Kilar holds an honorary doctor's degree from the University of Opole. He is also a member of the Polish Academy of Learning. He has received numerous awards for composition including the Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund Award, the Award of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Producers and the Grand Award of the Foundation of Culture.

He has written scores for hundreds of films, most of them Polish ones, and his music has also been used in the soundtrack to many more. Here are a choice few of the most famous ones, in chronological order after Dracula (‘cause it's my fave):

Wojciech Kilar now has over one hundred film scores to his name – he writes three or four a year. His music was almost (but alas not) used in the 1999 film adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. An excerpt from “Exodus” was used for the first Schindler’s List trailer, but John Williams eventually scored the film. An excerpt from “Zycie za zycie” was used in The Truman Show.

Here is a list of some of my favourites from the works of Wojciech Kilar. If you prefer to ease your way gently into his music, then just go for any of his film scores I’ve mentioned above first.

Orchestral Works

  • Symphony no. 2 “Sinfonia Concertante”
  • Ode Bela Bartok in memoriam for violin, brass and percussion
  • Riff 62
  • Krzesany
  • Orawa for string orchestra
Chamber Music:

  • Sonatina for flute and piano
  • Woodwind Quintet
  • Training 68 for clarinet, trombone, and piano
  • Any of his piano works that you can find
Vocal – Instrumental Music:

  • Solenne for sixty-seven performers
  • Upstairs-Downstairs for soprano choir and orchestra
  • Exodus for mixed choir and orchestra
  • Victoria for mixed choir and orchestra
  • Angelus for soprano, mixed choir and orchestra

Whichever you go for, just don’t miss out on an evocative, poetic, passionate and exciting musical experience. Don’t miss out on being transported to the Carpathian Mountains to celebrate being free, being alive and being a part of nature with the highland folk. Don’t miss hearing the religious themes of his music blend into mystical Eastern European melodies. Don’t miss travelling along the Carpathian rivers on Kilar’s trademark grinding basses and cellos, and his tear-inducing chord progressions. Don’t miss letting the deeply romantic themes wash over you while your ears get a taste of the colour that your eyes see all the time.

Reference: http://www.culture.pl, and my WK cd's
Thanks to vilk for the pronounciation key

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