Remembering Poland’s Wojciech Kilar (1932-2013)

Remembering Poland’s outstanding pianist & composer Wojciech Kilar (1932-2013)

From the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago

Wojciech Kilar, Poland’s renowned pianist and composer of classical music and scores for many films, e.g. Roman Polanski’s Oscar-winning “The Pianist” and Francis Ford Coppola’s “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” died on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013 in Katowice.

Wojciech Kilar is considered one of the co-founders of the highly regarded Polish Composers’ School. He cooperated with many Polish and foreign film directors, including: Roman Polanski, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Andrzej Wajda, Kazimierz Kutz, Krzysztof Zanussi, Jane Campion and Francis Ford Coppola.

Kilar composed scores for more than 100 masterpieces of the world cinema. His music for “Dracula” won him the Best Score Composer award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. He also received the French national film award César for Roman Polanski Oscar-winning “The Pianist.”

For his outstanding contributions to the Polish culture he was awarded, among others, Poland’s highest decoration, The Order of the White Eagle from Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski.

Wojciech Kilar was born in 1932 in Lvov, a then-Polish city, now in Ukraine. He spent his childhood in Rzeszow and Krakow in southern Poland before moving to Katowice in Poland’s region of Upper Silesia, where he lived most of his life and which he considered his “little homeland.” He was also deeply attached to Czestochowa where he often celebrated his birthdays.

Wojciech Kilar graduated with top honors from the State Music Academy in Katowice in 1955. He launched his career in the late 1950s. From the early 1960s he co-founded, together the renowned Krzysztof Penderecki and Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki, the Polish avant-garde school and a new approach to musical composition in contemporary music called sonorism.

“Over the past half a century Wojciech Kilar’s symphonic, sacral and film music accompanied us nearly every day. Sometimes we are not aware that a well-known motif or theme was written by Wojciech Kilar. He was a widely admired artist,” said Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski.

“Wojciech Kilar was a leading world-class composer. His works are characterized by quality, diversity and perfection,” said Bogdan Zdrojewski, Poland’s Minister for Culture and National Heritage.

“Poland has lost one of the most individual voices in 20th and 21st-century music,” said Jerzy Kornowicz, Chairman of the Polish Composers’ Union.

Wojciech Kilar will be buried in Katowice on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014.

More at the Consulate’s website:
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Concertina jam session marks its 30th year

A concertina jam session that began as a small room party in 1984 will be marking its 30th year in 2013 as part of the Polka Fireworks Festival at the Seven Springs Resort in Champion, Pennsylvania, Thursday, July 4, through Sunday, July 7.

For the past 29 years a total of over 300 different musicians from all over the United States and Canada have been a part of this jam session that has developed a loyal following among musicians and fans alike. Hosted by Steve and Adele Litwin of Binghamton, N.Y., it is just one of the many daytime musical events that take place during the Polka Fireworks festival, complementing the many live bands in the dance halls. The concertina jam will take place on Friday, July 5.

An Associate Editor and Polka Editor for the Polish American Journal, Litwin is a 2004 inductee into the World Concertina Congress Hall of Fame and has been writing for polka music publications for 45 years.

For more information on the Polka Fireworks Festival and the concertina jam, visit or e-mail

Source: Polonia Media Network

The Newberry Consort performs masterworks of the Polish Renaissance

The Newberry Consort in partnership with the Polish Cultural Institute New York brings rare and beautiful music from Poland’s Golden Age to Chicago and Evanston, Illinois. Led by Chicago native Tom Zajac, the renowned ensemble of world-class musicians will premiere their new program entitled Gaude, Mater Polonia: Music from Poland’s Golden Age at the Copernicus Center’s MayFest on Friday, May 3, 2013 at 8 p.m. in the Copernicus Foundation Annex. Two more performances will follow on May 4 at University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts and on May 5 at Northwestern University’s Lutkin Hall in Evanston.

Tom Zajac, the guest conductor and creator of the program, is a multi-instrumentalist specializing in medieval and Renaissance music; he is also a second-generation Polish-American. In August 2011, by invitation of the Polish Cultural Institute New York, he took part in a research visit to hear and meet Polish early musicians and ensembles at two festivals – Narol Festival and the Jarosław Song of Our Roots Festival in the southeast of the country. He published an article about these experiences in the Winter 2011-12 issue of the Early Music America Journal.

Performed on fiddles, bagpipe, flute, trombone, recorders, lute, and a consort of voices, the program Gaude, Mater Polonia will feature motets by Wacław z Szamotuł, Poland’s greatest composer of the mid-16th century, selections from the Melodie na Psałterz polski of 1580, which contains settings by Mikołaj Gomółka of all 150 psalms with paraphrases by Poland’s greatest 16th century poet, Jan Kochanowski. Also featured are Mass movements from the Missa Pulcherrima (Most Beautiful Mass) by the 17th century master Bartłomiej Pękiel. Featured musicians include soprano Ellen Hargis; David Douglass on violin and viola; Tom Zajac on recorders, flutes, sackbut, bagpipe, pipe and tabor; John Lenti on Renaissance lute and theorbo; Brandi Berry on violin; Jeremy Ward on bass violin; Matthew Dean, tenor; Eric Miranda, bass; Kayleen Sanchez, soprano; and Angela Young Smucker, alto. Audience members are encouraged to take advantage of pre-concert lectures, offering intimate insights into the history and context of the featured composers and their works.

The Newberry Consort is the longest running and most successful early music ensemble in the Chicago area. Directed by David Douglass, Newberry Musician-in-Residence, and early music diva Ellen Hargis, the Consort plumbs the Newberry Library’s vast music collection and assembles a star-studded roster of local and international artists to bring you world-class performances of music from the 13th to the 18th centuries…and occasionally beyond! Affiliated with the Newberry Library Center for Renaissance Studies, the Consort also serves as an ensemble-in-residence at both the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. In addition to an annual concert series in Chicago, the Consort has an active touring schedule. For more information, visit