Wojciech Kilar, a Polish pianist and composer whose classical music scores have been featured in numerous films, has died. He was 81.
Kilar died Sunday in his hometown of Katowice, Poland. According to Jerzy Kornowicz, head of the Association of Polish Composers, Kilar had long been battling an illness. Further details were not provided, The Associated Press reported
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"The power and the message of his music, as well as the noble character of Wojciech Kilar as a person, will stay in my memory forever," Kornowicz told the AP.
Working with Kilar "was pure pleasure," added Polish film director Kazimierz Kutz. "He would come, see my movie and a month later he would bring extremely good music that was always beyond my expectations."
Among the film scores for which he is most known is the haunting theme music in Francis Ford Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula," Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and Roman Polanski's "The Pianist."
In a 2007 interview with PLUS, a journal about Polish-American affairs, Kilar recalled asking Coppola in Los Angeles what kind of music he was expecting, to which the director replied: "I did my part. You are the composer. Do what you want."
Kilar's "Bram Stoker's Dracula" score won him the Best Score Composer award from the American Society of Composers.
"In a movie, music is just one of the many elements," Kilar said, the AP noted. "Serious music, which I compose, is signed with my name only, and I get real pleasure from that."
In his lifetime, Kilar wrote music for more than 130 movies around the world.
Known for being a modest man among his contemporaries, Kilar often "liked to share whatever he had with others," Polish conductor Antoni Wit told the AP.
According to those who knew him, Kilar drew much of his musical inspiration from the religious prayers and hymns of his youth as an altar boy as well as Polish folk music. Despite being known largely in the U.S. for his contributions to film scores, he reportedly always put his symphonies and concertos ahead of Hollywood soundtracks.
In a 2006 interview, Kilar said he was happiest "at home, in silence, with my loved ones, with my cat," and hoped to be remembered as a "good human being, someone who brought a little happiness, hope and reflection into life and into the world and perhaps a bit of faith," the AP reported.
Kilar had no children with his wife Barbara of over 40 years, who died in 2007.
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