Zbigniew Preisner  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
L'inferno by Giuseppe de Liguoro with added music by Zbigniew Preisner

Zbigniew Preisner (born May 20, 1955 in Bielsko-Biała as Zbigniew Kowalski) is one of Poland's leading film score composers, best known for his work with director Krzysztof Kieślowski. He adopted his wife's surname after their marriage.

Life and work

Preisner studied history and philosophy in Kraków. Never having received formal music lessons, he taught himself about music by listening and transcribing parts from records. His compositional style represents a distinctively spare form of tonal neo-Romanticism. Jean Sibelius is an acknowledged influence.

Preisner is best known for the music he composed for films by fellow Pole director Krzysztof Kieślowski. His Song for the Unification of Europe, based on the Greek text of 1 Corinthians 13, is attributed to a character in Kieślowski's Three Colors: Blue and plays a dominating role in the story. His music for Three Colors: Red includes a setting of Polish and French versions of a poem by Wisława Szymborska, Poland's Nobel Prize-winning poet.

After working with Krzysztof Kieślowski on Three Colors: Blue, Preisner was hired by the producer Francis Ford Coppola to write the score for The Secret Garden, directed by another Polish director Agnieszka Holland.

Although Preisner is most closely associated with Kieślowski's , he has written for other directors, winning a César in 1996 for his work on Jean Becker's Élisa. He has won a number of other awards, including another César in 1994 for Three Colors: Red, and the Silver Bear from the 1997 Berlin Film Festival 1997 for The Island on Bird Street.

In 1998, Requiem for My Friend, Preisner's first large scale work not written for film, premiered. It was originally intended as a narrative work to be written by Krzysztof Piesiewicz and directed by Kieślowski , but it became a memorial to Kieślowski after the director's death.

He composed the theme music for the People's Century, a monumental twenty-six part documentary made jointly in 1994 by the BBC television network in Great Britain and the PBS television network in the United States. He has also worked with director Thomas Vinterberg on the 2003 film It's All About Love and provided orchestration for David Gilmour's 2006 album On An Island.

Silence, Night and Dreams is Zbigniew Preisner’s new recording project, a large-scale work for orchestra, choir and soloists, based on texts from the Book of Job. The premier recording, due for release in autumn 2007, will feature the lead singer of Madredeus, Teresa Salgueiro and boy soprano Thomas Cully from Libera [1].


The Song for the Unification of Europe (1993) heard in Blue is incorrectly called a "concerto" in some English translations of the screenplay. A concerto is an instrumental piece; Preisner's Song, very obviously, incorporates singers.

Van den Budenmayer

Van den Budenmayer is a fictitious eighteenth-century Dutch composer created by Preisner and director Krzysztof Kieslowski for attributions in screenplays. Preisner said Van den Budenmayer is a pseudonym he and Kieślowski invented "because we both loved the Netherlands".

Music "by" the Dutch composer plays a role in three Kieślowski films. The first is The Decalogue (1988). The third is Three Colors: Blue (1993) in which a theme from his musique funebres is quoted in the Song for the Unification of Europe. The Song's E minor soprano solo is itself prefigured in an earlier film, The Double Life of Veronique (1991), where circumstances in the story prevent the solo from finishing.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Zbigniew Preisner" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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