Wojciech Kilar is one of Poland's premier symphonic composers. Born in Lwow in 1932, he studied at the Higher School of Music in Katowice with piano master W. Markiewiczowna and composition tutor B. Woytowicz. He studied composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, which he considers his second home. Kilar has been awarded numerous international prizes for composition, among them the Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund Award of Boston in 1960, the Jurzykowski Foundation of New York in 1983, and in his native Poland, the State Award Grade 1 in 1980, the awards of the Minister of Culture in 1967 and 1976, and in 1975, the Award of the Polish Association of Composers.
Kilar's most important compositions include A Short Overture, Symphony for Strings, Il Sinfonia Concertante for Piano and Orchestra, Riff 62, A Prelude and a Christmas Carol, Solenne for 67 Performers, Upstairs-Downstairs, Krzesany, Koscielec 1909, Grey Mist, Orawa, Victoria, Exodus, Choralvorspiel, Angelus.
Referring to John Cage as "the Pope of modern music", Kilar has also been strongly influenced by both classical compositions and indigenous Polish folk music. His works have been performed by several major international symphony orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Symphony and the New York Philharmonic. For the past 30 years, he has also been composing music for films in Europe, working on numerous projects with directors Krzysztof Zanussi, Andrzej Wajda, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Francis Ford Coppola, Jane Campion, and Roman Polanski.