Amid this time of great rejoicing and merriment, we are sad to learn the passing of renowned composer Wojciech Kilar.
Born in 1932 in Poland (a region now a part of Ukraine), Wojciech Kilar was a European composer in the most traditional sense. European scoring has always put a stronger emphasis on themes than its American counterpart. The great Italian maestros, the unforgettable French masters, and, of course, Wojciech Kilar himself, always strove to deftly make every piece of their scores into a theme of its own.
Only a handful of these innately European scores ever were commissioned for big American movies, and as such, most casual film music listeners will only remember Wojciech Kilar for a single score, but what a score. Bram Stocker’s Dracula.
Although this undeniable classic is indeed a true legacy left to us by this great composer, it is only the tip of the iceberg. The Ninth Gate and Portrait of a Lady are equally deserving of praise, and it is a sad fact that most American audiences were never in contact with the films or the soundtrack releases of the bulk of his European work, such as Le roi et l’oiseau.
Truly a great man has left us today and although he is greatly underrepresented in most American film music collections, it is never too late to discover him. Perhaps his passing is the triggering event that will change that.