Exodus (1981) per coro ed orchestra (1/3)
Wojciech Kilar was born on July 17, 1932 in Lwow, Poland, which is now part of the Ukraine. His father was a medical doctor, a gynecologist,
and his mother a theater actress. Since 1948, Kilar spent most of his life in Katowice where he lives with his wife, Barbara Pomianowska, a
Kilar studied music at some of Poland's finest academies,including the prestigiuos State Higher School of Music, under the tutelage of the
composer/pianist Wladyslawa Markiewiczowna, and graduated with top honors in 1955. From 1955 to 1958 he enrolled in post-graduate
studies at the State Higher School of Music in Krakow under composer/pianist Boleslaw Woytowicz. In 1957 he participated in the
International New Music Summer Course in Darmstadt. For the next two years Kilar broadened his musical education in Paris, and through
a scholarship from the French government was able to study compostion under Nadia Boulanger.
Wojciech Kilar's music was a part of the Polish avant-garde movement of the sixties. By 1977 he was co-founder of the Karol Szymanowski
Society, in Zakopane. He also chaired the Katowice chapter of the Association of Polish Composers for several years, and from 1979-81
was vice chairman of the association's national board. In addition he was member of the Repertoire Committee for the "Warsaw Autumn"
International Festival of Contemporary Music. In 1991 Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Zanussi made a biographical film about the composer titled
Kilar achieved wide acclaim as a classical composer. He scored his first domestic film in 1959, and from then on has written for some of
Poland's most famous directors including Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krzysztof Zanussi, Kazimierz Kutz and Andrzej Wajda. He worked on more
than 100 film titles in Poland alone, as well as internationally renowned films such as Bilans Kwartalny (1975), Spirala (1978), Constans
(1980), Imperativ (1982), Rok Spokojnego Slonca (1984), and Zycie za Zycie (1991), and a number of others in France and many parts of
He made his English-language debut with Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of Dracula. His other English language features — Roman
Polanski's trio Death and the Maiden (1994), The Ninth Gate (1999) and The Pianist (2002), and Jane Campion's The Portrait of a Lady
(1996). His trademark were the grinding basses and cellos, deeply romantic themes and minimalist chord progressions.
Kilar continues to write and publish purely classical works, in which he included a horn sonata, a piece for a wind quintet, several pieces for
chamber orchestra and choir, the acclaimed Baltic Canticles, the epic Exodus (famous as the trailer music from Schindler's List), a Concerto
for Piano and Orchestra dedicated to Peter Jablonski, and his major work, the “September Symphony” (2003).
Eventually he abandoned his avant-garde musical style and employed a more simplified musical language, in which sizable masses of
sound serve as a backdrop for highlighted melodies.
Wojciech Kilar has been the recipient of numerous for his artistic excellence,,including prizes from the Lili Boulanger Foundation in Boston
(1960), the Minister of Culture and Art (1967, 1975), the Association of Polish Composers (1975), the Katowice province (1971, 1976,
1980), and the city of Katowice (1975, 1992). He has also been awarded the First Class Award of Merit of the Polish Republic (1980), the
Alfred Jurzykowski Foundation Prize in New York (1984), the Solidarity Independent Trade Union Cultural Committee Arts Award (1989), the
Wojciech Korfanty Prize (1995), the "Lux ex Silesia" Prize bestowed by the Archbishop and Metropolitan of Katowice (1995), and the
Sonderpreis des Kulturpreis Schlesien des Landes Niedersachsen (1996).
In addition, he received many honours for his film scores. He received the best score award for the music to Ziemia obiecana / The
Promised Land (dir. Andrzej Wajda) at the Festival of Polish Films in Gdansk in 1975. This was followed by the Prix Louis Delluc, which Kilar
was awarded in 1980 for the music to an animated film titled Le Roi et l'Oiseau / The King and the Mockingbird, (dir. Paul Grimault). One
year later he collected an award at the Cork International Film Festival for the music to Papież Jan Pawel II / Pope John Paul II / Da un
paese lontano: Papa Giovanni Paulo II (dir. Krzysztof Zanussi).
Undoubtedly, his greatest success came with the score to Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula, for which Kilar received the ASCAP Award in
1992 from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Producers in Los Angeles and the prize for best score in a horror film in San
Francisco in 1992. The Polish State Cinema Committee presented Kilar with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991,and in 1976 he was
decorated with the Cavaliers' Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta. In November 2008 Kilar was also awarded the Grand Cross of the
Order of Polonia Restituta.
List of Major Awards
The French Lili Boulanger Prize for composition (1960)
The Polish Ministry of Culture and Arts Award (1967 and 1976)
The Polish Composers Union Award (1975)
The French Prix Louis Delluc (1980)
The Alfred Jurzykowski Foundation Award (1984, USA)
The Polish Cultural Foundation Award (2000)
The 1992 ASCAP Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Producers in Los Angeles
for his score for the Coppola horror film Bram Stoker's Dracula.
The prize for best score in a horror film, Bram Stoker's Dracula (San Francisco, 1992)
2002 BAFTA Awards - Nominee
Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music - The Pianist (2002 film)[
Sadly, an enormous part of Kilar's work remains undiscovered by the public. He has writen music for over 100 films including: Bram
Stoker's Dracula, Death and the Maiden, The Portrait of a Lady, The Ninth Gate, The Truman Show, Pan Tadeusz, The Pianist, Zemsta,
and We Own the Night.
He is currently composing symphonic music, chamber works, and for solo arrangements. In January 2001, he completed his monumental
work for a full symphony orchestra, mixed choir and a quartet of soloists. It was performed at the National Philharmonic in Warsaw to
commemorate the Warsaw Philharmonic's Centennial. It was performed again in December of that year in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican in
the presence of Pope John Paul II.
Kilar's 1984 composition of Angelus was used in the film City of Angels; and Orawa was used in the 2003 production of "Pathways" (by
Santa Clara Vanguard).
Music for film has been the dominant force for most of his life but he has also performed many concert works. After the year 2000, he
began to focus his energies to "music of a singular authorship". In 2003 he wrote a full-scale symphony for Antoni Wit, and since then has
returned to absolute music. This symphony, the September Symphony, was the first since his 1955 Symphony for Strings was composed.
(along with another student). At the age of 71, Kilar considered it his first mature symphony.
Since 2003, Kilar has been continually large scale concert works. "Lament" was written in 2003, for an unaccompanied mixed choir: In 2005,
his Symphony No.4 Sinfonia de Motu (Symphony of Motion) was written for a large orchestra, choir and soloist; in 2006, his Magnificat
Massm and in 2007 Symphony No.5 Advent Symphony and another large mass, Te Deum premiered in November 2008.
Kilar was quoted as saying that he believed he had discovered the philosopher's stone, and that "there was nothing more beautiful than the
solitary sound or concord that lasted eternally, that this was the deepest wisdom, nothing like our tricks with sonata allegros, fugues, and
harmonics." Kilar's works have been performed by several major international orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the
Cleveland Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic.
Selected Film music
Nikt nie woła (Nobody's calling) (1960)
Tarpany (Wild Horses) (1962)
Głos z tamtego świata (Voice from beyond) (1962)
Milczenie (Silence) (1963)
Trzy kroki po ziemi (Three steps on Earth) (1965)
Piekło i niebo (Hell and heaven) (1966)
Bicz boży (God's whip) (1967)
The Doll (1968 film) (Lalka) (1968)
Rejs (Cruise) (1970)
Bolesław Śmiały (King Boleslaus the Bold) (1972)
Opętanie (Obsession) (1973)
Ziemia obiecana (Land of Promise) (1974)
Smuga cienia (The shadow line) (1976)
Ptaki ptakom (Bords to birds) (1977)
Barwy ochronne (Camouflage) (1977)
Spirala (Spiral) (1978)
Rodzina Polanieckich (TV Series) (1978)
Le Roi et l'Oiseau (The King and the Mockingbird) (1980)
Przypadek (Blind chance) (1982)
Chronicle of Amorous Events(1986)
Gdzieśkolwiek jest, jesliś jest (Wherever you are, if you are) (1988)
Stan posiadania (Inventory) (1989)
Życie za życie (about Maximilian Kolbe) (1991)
Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
Dotknięcie ręki (A touch of the hand) (1992)
Death and the Maiden (1994)
The Portrait of a Lady (1996)
Deceptive Charm (1996)
Brat naszego Boga (Our God's brother) (1997)
The Truman Show (1998) (parts from Requiem Father Kolbe)
The Ninth Gate (1999)
Pan Tadeusz (1999)
Life As a Fatal Sexually Transmitted Disease (2000)
Le Pianiste (2002)
Zemsta (Revenge) (2002)
We Own the Night (2007)
Il Sole Nero (2007)
Small Overture (1955), for the Youth Festival, 1955
Symphony for Strings (1955)
Ode Béla Bartók in memoriam, for violin, brass, and percussion (1956)
Riff 62 (1962)
Springfield Sonnet (1965)
Prelude and Christmas Carol, for four oboes and string orchestra (1972)
Angelus (1984), for symphony orchestra, soprano, and mixed choir
Orawa, for string orchestra (1988)
Choralvorspiel, for string orchestra, (1988)
Requiem Father Kolbe, for symphony orchestra (1994)
Missa Pro Pace (2000), for orchestra, chorus, and soloists
Lament (2003), for mixed unaccompanied choir
Symphony No.3 "September Symphony" (2003) for orchestra
Symphony No.4 "Sinfonia de Motu" (Symphony of Motion) (2005), for orchestra, chorus, and soloists
Magnificat (2007), for orchestra, chorus, and soloists
Symphony No. 5 "Advent Symphony" (2007), for orchestra, chorus, and soloists
Te Deum (2008), for orchestra, chorus, and soloists
Veni Creator (2008), for mixed chorus and strings
Paschalis Hymn (2008) for chorus
Uwertura uroczysta [Solemn Overture] (2010) for orchestra
Symphony Concertant, for piano and orchestra (1956)
Piano Concerto (1996)
Flute Sonatina (1951)
Woodwind Quintet (1952)
Training 68, for clarinet, trombone, and piano, (1968)
Numerous solo piano pieces
Every graduate... at the conservatoire is able to compose a Symphony, and maybe it will even receive a performance. But to write a
melody which is sung and played by hundreds of interpreters is something one really has to be born to – ideally in America. A good thing
for us (not for him, as one has to admit) that Wladyslaw Szpilman, our Cole Porter, Gershwin, Paul McCartney, was born in Poland.
Highlander's music is an inexhaustible source of muse. My most popular pieces have been played for more than 30 years; and I owe
it to highlander's music (Gorals music).
I was forced to learn music (laughs). My father was a doctor, mother an actress, so my house was full of artistic atmosphere.
I turned down the proposition to compose music for "Femme Fatale (film)" directed by Brian de Palma and I regret it very much,
because I wanted to write music for this film.
I would like to be remembered as a good human being, someone who brought little happiness, hope and reflection into life and into the
world and perhaps a bit of faith by those religious pieces. If I were to die seeing that just one person had converted because of me, I
would have been satisfied.
During 2007 parliament campaign Wojciech Kilar made a number of official statements of his support for Prawo i Sprawiedliwość.