Not many European composers are top of the bill in the motion picture world of music. But a Polish composer is something else, and he stands at the forefront of his career. Wojciech Kilar is perhaps the most difficult pronounceable name but his skills aren't to be questioned, and his true art is never been at any doubt. He scored perhaps one of the biggest lists in movie projects, mainly Polish projects but his few American efforts are known for the outstanding versatility and fine adaptability. His biggest score will forever stay Bram Stoker's Dracula, a classically but outstanding horror effort that demonstrates the true orchestral color of a love story and horror adaptation. His romantic side is equally challenging and comedic or thriller assignments aren't a weakness by any means. Or to summarize it, he can portray one heck of a résumé.
Polish composer Wojciech Kilar was born on July 17, 1932 and has scored over 150 films, mostly Polish productions. At an early age he studied piano and composition at the State Higher School of music. He graduated and was enabled to study in Paris with Nadia Boulanger. Together he has worked with the finest directors of Poland including Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krzysztof Zanussi, Kazimierz Kutz and Andrzej Wajda but also famous directors such as Paul Grimault, Francis Ford Coppola and Roman Polanski. His career in movie composition started in 58 and has continuously grown to a mammoth list of works. From the early days of small-scale efforts such as The Moonwalkers, Wild Horses and Silence to European and American projects including the likes of Death and the Maiden and The Pianist, Kilar has proven to succeed. Wojciech Kilar is mostly known as the classical voice behind such scores as Bram Stokers Dracula, Death and the Maiden, The Portrait of a Lady and The Ninth Gate, scores that he garnered special attention at. But dramatic strong productions including the recent The Pianist is no stranger to the ear of the fans. Including with the list of high profile projects is Pan Tadeusz, a score that received warm praise. Kilar has also been praised for his short contribution to the score The Truman Show (where a small piece was used as source music) and several compilations have proven the thematic quality of his work. Kilar has also been awarded with several prices, including the Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund Award of Boston in 1960, the State Award Grade I in 1980 and the A.S.C.A.P.Award for his score for Coppola's Dracula in Los Angeles in 1992. Last, Kilar has also written extensive works for chamber and orchestra. Obviously, Wojciech Kilar is one of the few European composers that have mesmerized American listeners and those hearing his work all over the world.
July 19, 2001 In Europe, you always work under a certain kind of stress, the sense that you're making this great thing; that something very important is being brought into being.
(on scoring European films)
July 19, 2001 When things are loose, easy going, relaxed, "take it easy," then work is good; then a person opens up, the ideas flow, and the melodies come.
July 19, 2001 In Death and the Maiden, Schubert is part of the narrative. On Death and the Maiden it was great; I didn't have to write for the beginning and end credits.
(on the inclusion of source music)
July 19, 2001
I love the Parisians, but they're awful
pigs [laughs]. The audience sat and sat, then "Music - Wojciech Kilar" came up
on the screen, and then everyone got up and left. They had stayed behind just to find out
who wrote the music. This was one of my fondest moments.
July 19, 2001
If you've got a respectably good composer, then you have to give him freedom, and a smart director understands this. This I really like about American film making. Naturally, with a "bad" composer, it can't be this way because he'll write something dreadful..
(on scoring under time limits)
of his career: