Home Arts & Culture Composer Wojciech Kilar dies in Katowice at 81

Composer Wojciech Kilar dies in Katowice at 81

Wojciech Kilar, who was BAFTA-nominated for his score to Roman Polanski’s Oscar-winning film The Pianist, has died aged 81.

The Polish pianist and composer died in his hometown Katowice following a long illness.

“The power and the message of his music… will stay in my memory forever,” said Jerzy Kornowicz, head of the Association of Polish Composers.


Wojciech Kilar’s work as a film composer included Dracula and Roman Polanski’s The Ninth Gate.

Wojciech Kilar was BAFTA-nominated for his score to Roman Polanski's Oscar-winning film The Pianist

Wojciech Kilar was BAFTA-nominated for his score to Roman Polanski’s Oscar-winning film The Pianist

Although he cited his first love as writing symphonies and concertos, he won worldwide attention as a film composer, writing scores for more than 130 films and working with celebrity directors such as Jane Campion (Portrait of a Lady) and Francis Ford Coppola.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula won Wojciech Kilar the best score composer award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in 1992.

Francis Ford Coppola is understood to have given Wojciech Kilar a free rein to compose the score for Dracula, and it was reported that when the American director later asked Kilar what it took to write music like his, Kilar cryptically replied: “You need to live in Katowice.”

Born in 1932, Wojciech Kilar studied piano and composition in Poland, graduating from the State Higher School of Music, in Katowice, with top honors in 1955.

Inspired by the works of Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and fellow countryman Karol Szymanowski – Wojciech Kilar co-founded the Karol Szymanowski Society in 1977 – his work incorporated Polish folk songs and Catholic church music.