Preisner, Zbigniew

views updated

PREISNER, Zbigniew

Composer. Nationality: Polish. Born: Bielsko-Biala, Poland, 20 May, 1955. Education: Studied history and philosophy in Krakow, private music studies. Career: Sometimes credited as Van den Budenmayer. Composed music for Dekalog (The Decalogue), TV series, 1986–88. Awards: Silver Berlin Bear, for the music to The Island on Bird Street, Berlin International Film Festival, 1997; Best Music, for Élisa, César Awards, 1996; Best Music, for Trois couleurs: Rouge, César Awards, 1995; Best Music, for Olivier, Olivier, The Secret Garden, and Trois couleurs: Bleu, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, 1993; Best Music, for Damage, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, 1992; Best Music, for Europa, Europa, Double Life of Véronique, and At Play in the Fields of the Lord, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, 1991; Award for outstanding achievements in the presentation of Polish Culture abroad, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Poland, 1992; Honorary member of the French Film Academy, since 1994.

Films as Composer:


Prognoza pogody (The Weather Forecast) (Krauze)


Bez konca (No End) (Kieslowski); Przez dotyk (By Touch) (Lazarkiewicz)


Ucieczka (Escape) (Szadkowski)


Kocham Kino (I Love Cinema) (Lazarkiewicz); The Lullabye (Sevella)


Zabic ksiedza (To Kill a Priest) (Holland); Krótki film o zabijaniu (A Short Film About Killing) (Kieslowski); Krótki film o milosci (A Short Film About Love) (Kieslowski)


Ostatni dzwonek (The Last Schoolbell) (Lazarkiewicz)


Hitlerjunge Salomon (Europa Europa) (Holland)


La Double vie de Véronique (The Double Life of Veronique) (Podwojne zycie Weroniki) (Kieslowski); At Play in the Fields of the Lord (Babenco); Eminent Domain (Irvin)


Olivier, Olivier (Holland); Zwolnieni z zycia (Dismissed from Life) (Krzystek)


O Fio do Horizonte (The Line of the Horizon) (Lopes); Trois couleurs: Bleu (Three Colors: Blue; Trzy kolory: Niebieski) (Kieslowski); The Secret Garden (Holland); Fatale (Damage) (Malle)


Trois couleurs: Rouge (Three Colors: Red; Trzy kolory: Czerwony) (Kieslowski); Trois couleurs: Blanc (Three Colors: White; Trzy kolory: Bialy) (Kieslowski); Radetzky Marsch (Corti and Roll ) TV mini-series; Mouvements du désir (Desire in Motion) (Pool); When a Man Loves a Woman (Mandoki)


Feast of July (Menaul); Élisa (Becker); De Aegypto (Ptaszynska) (doc); Krzysztof Kieslowski: I'm So-So. . . (Wierzbicki)


Bruggen (Bridges)


Øen i fuglegaden (The Island on Bird Street) (Kragh-Jacobsen); FairyTale: A True Story (Sturridge)


Dancing at Lughnasa (O'Connor); Corazón iluminado (Foolish Heart) (Babenco); Liv (Ponti)


Dreaming of Joseph Lees (Styles); The Last September (Warner)




On PREISNER: book—

Stok, Danusia, Kieslowski on Kieslowski, Boston and London, 1993.

On PREISNER: article—

Preisner, Zbigniev, in BFI Companion to Eastern European and Russian Cinema, London, 2000.

On PRIESNER: web sites:— July 2000. July 2000.

* * *

Zbigniew Preisner is Poland's foremost film music composer and one of the leading film music figures worldwide. Largely self-taught in music, he credits as his major influences Paganini and Sibelius, along with the members of the Polish Romantic Movement in music. Preisner's style is easily recognized as he tends to employ a range of classical Baroque elements in a post-modern blend of sounds that emphasizes melody and polyphony.

Along with screenwriter Krzysztof Piesiewicz, Preisner was the closest collaborator of famous Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski for almost a decade. The two met in 1981, at the time when Preisner was making his debut as a composer working on the Polish satire Weather Forecast (directed by Antony Krauze). Their meeting resulted in an extensive collaboration over the next fifteen years. Preisner wrote the scores for Kieslowski's No End (1984), for the acclaimed TV series The Decalogue (1986–1988, as well as for the film spin-offs of series number 5 and 6, the award-winning A Short Film about Killing and A Short Film about Love), for the award-winning The Double Life of Veronique (1991), and for the trilogy Three Colors: Blue (1993), White (1994) and Red (1994). Preisner also wrote the score for Krzysztof Wierzbicki's biographical documentary Krzysztof Kieslowski: I'm So-So. . . (1995).

Preisner is a proponent of the auteurist view of the film composer. He is known for working on the score closely with the director. He takes part in the development of the project as early as scripting and storyboarding, as well as in post-production. To him, the composer, along with the cinematographer and the screenwriter, is one of the most important collaborators of the director and has a decisive impact on the overall aesthetic of the final product. This conviction is revealed in his long lasting commitment to cultivating the tasteful and memorable musical scores of Kieslowski's films, best revealed in The Double Life of Veronique, a film which, even though mostly financed by France, was a major international success for the Polish school of filmmaking. For Veronique Preisner wrote a concerto, which he mystified and presented as the work of Dutch composer Van den Budenmayer, hence the alias he continues using occasionally. The Three Colors films, which won numerous international awards, brought the next major success for Kieslowski and his team of collaborators, including Preisner. Even though after the Three Colors trilogy Kieslowski declared an official retirement from cinema in 1995, he was planning a return. His next project was supposed to be a trilogy tentatively called Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, and Preisner was to work on the musical score. These plans were abruptly interrupted by the director's death on 13 March 1996.

In the early 1990s, Kieslowski and Preisner, along with screenwriter Krzysztof Piesiewicz, had also discussed a stage project, which was supposed to be a multi-media performance, combining operatic singing and a mystery play. The intention had been to premiere the event on the Acropolis in Athens, and to eventually develop a further series of performances to be scheduled in selected locations around the world. The untimely death of Kieslowski, however, put an end to these plans as well. Nonetheless, Preisner continued working on the music he had started writing for the project, and it developed into a unique musical opus, combining singing and instrumental music. Requiem for My Friend (1998), the first part of which is dedicated to Kieslowski's memory, featured the singing of remarkable Polish soprano Elzbieta Towarnicka, whose voice had been a highlight of Preisner's scores in Veronique, Blue, and Red. The Requiem was recorded with the Warsaw Symphony Orchestra and Warsaw's Chamber Choir and premiered in 1998.

Besides his close collaboration with Kieslowski, Preisner also worked with Agnieszka Holland, an internationally acclaimed director of Polish background. He wrote the scores for her To Kill a Priest, Europa, Europa, Olivier, Olivier, and The Secret Garden. He maintains long-standing working relationship with Polish feminist director Magdalena Lazarkiewicz for whom he worked on Przez dotyk (By Touch) and Ostatni dzwonek (The Last Schoolbell). More and more frequently, as his fame grows, Preisner works internationally. He has written music for directors worldwide, such as French-American Louis Malle's Fatal (Damage), British Charles Sturridge's Fairy Tale: A True Story, and Brazilian Hector Babenco's At Play in the Fields of the Lord and Corazón iluminado (Foolish Heart). Preisner continues working on musical scores for international directors and in Poland.

—Dina Iordanova