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Bram Stoker's Dracula title banner

By JASON COMERFORD

Polish composer Wojciech Kilar is one of his home country’s most celebrated talents, having written hundreds of pieces for orchestra, chamber, chorus and piano over the course of a career spanning nearly six decades. Kilar’s oeuvre also includes over a hundred film scores for various European filmmakers, but ironically enough, he has his fellow countryman Witold Lutoslawski to thank for his big Hollywood break.

Director Francis Ford Coppola initially approached Lutoslawski to score his 1992 film Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but the celebrated composer declined because of the time commitment and his own ailing health. Coppola then hired Kilar, for what would become his very first score for an English-language production. In his commentary track for the film’s DVD and Blu-Ray release, Coppola related his working process with “a really classical musician-composer:”

...What I noticed was he wrote about three or at the most four cues. I think it was three; a love theme, a kind of initial very dramatic theme, and then a third theme. And he gave me these three themes, and we recorded them, and that was all he gave me.

...And I said, “Well, can you give me some variations? For example, could we play the love theme this way and that way, this orchestration, that orchestration?” And he tried and tried and tried, but ultimately, when it was all said and done, he wrote those three cues.They sounded great, and he was giving it to me, and that was it.

So when we actually finished the complete movie, we found that we had to take these three cues, and fortunately, we had the original recordings which were recorded with a number of microphones, so we could play the cue and, you know, not play the string section or not play the brass section, or the music editor had to find ways that we could, like, make these three very, very impressive cues work for the whole movie without just repeating them over and over again.

And that was an interesting experience; very, very positive, and yet somewhat troublesome...

Kilar’s powerful, stirring score has many and various highlights but it’s the first cue, the roaring and operatic “Dracula - The Beginning,” that proves most memorable. Kilar’s horrific overture accompanies the bloodsoaked introduction to Count Dracula (Gary Oldman), and the tortured, decades-spanning love affair that powers the story, establishing his key thematic elements with classical élan and seamlessly supporting a sequence of violence, terror and heartbreak.

“Troublesome” process aside, the mixture worked: Bram Stoker’s Dracula proved to be one of the biggest hits of the year (and Coppola’s career), going on to gross over $200 million worldwide and win three Oscars. Kilar’s score for the film is arguably one of his most popular (and accessible) works, and has remained in print since 1992.

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for this installment.


 



The Moment in Question:

Click [here] to listen to a sample of
"Dracula - The Beginning," composed by
Wojciech Kilar.

Wojciech Kilar portrait
... .Wojciech Kilar
... ...
Installment Prize:

A prize will be awarded at the
end of each week through
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comments.
Week 1 Prize Information

What do you think?

Click here to submit a comment
for this installment.

Bram Stoker's Dracula album cover soundtrack cover

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Awesome Websites!

Soundtrack available at SAE


Next Installment:

Alejandro Amenábar reaches for
a shape under the sheets.
The Others

about the author

READER COMMENTS:

Howlin' Wolf  
The Grand Prize for 13 Chills 2013 is The X-Files: Volume Two - music composed by Mark Snow. This 4CD box set is a limited edition of 3000 units - compliments of La-La Land Records!
See the main page for details.

The Week 2 Prize drawing coming this weekend. Thanks to all for participating!
     
Peloquin  
This is one of those films I (in the beginning) never really cared for ...as I watched it more I changed my mind. The score on the other-hand was one of my favorites of that year and still today I find myself listening to. It's great to bring it out again, thank you for reminding us it's there... Awesome giveaway from La La Land, they are one of the leaders in scores as is Howlin' Wolf Records.
   
David Kessler  
This is really a score that fits the movie perfect with the gothic visions and pictures showing of and the CD is a rollercoaster ride from beginning to end. Kilar should definatly make more moviemusic as this is as good as it gets. smiley face graphic
   
Scott  
Love this score! One of my favorite in the Horror genre. It is kind of disturbing to know that Kilar only actually wrote 3 themes for the movie, and the rest is all done in post production...it almost, but not quite, ruins it for me. I like this score enough that I won't let it affect my enjoyment! The mood of the score fits the movie perfectly...it is gothic, dark, and very powerful. Great stuff!!
     
David W.  
This is one of my favourites! It might be Gary Oldman, it might be Francis Ford Coppola, but definitely the music helped with the tragedy of Dracula.
     
Ivan   Great score, but I don't like this movie-version. From one point - it's very close for original novel in several aspects. But Coppola also made so many unnatural inventions, which I don't understand and can't agree with them, that I always think twice - that else is on TV at same time? If something else - I say "pass", if nothing - well, let's see Dracula again. ) But the score is really great.  
     
Jonathan  
Kilar is a wonderful composer. I love his work and I gotta look for this soundtrack. It has to be somewhere...
     
Howlin' Wolf   Definitely check out the link to SAE just below the album cover in the right column of the page ...they have Kilar's score for Bram Stoker's Dracula at an amazing price!
     
Mike   Very stylized film. Not everyone's cup of tea, but definitely different and artistically ambitious. I guess what struck me most about Kilar's score the first time I saw the film was the slow-building, militaristic influence courtesy of Holst's "Mars, the Bringer of War." I know Mars has appeared in some form in countless film scores, but I'd never heard a variation of it in a horror context before. Kilar's love theme here is quite beautiful as well and definitely the highlight of the score for me. 
     
Claus   This is one awesome scary score! I work in the animation industri as a animator. Soundtracks is a BIG part of my life. When I animate, I hear scores to give me the mood of a scene.

I haven't animated anything scary yet, but if/when that happens, I will put this score on! smiley face 
     
Sandor   Awesome score by this fantastic Polish composer. Probably one of his most famous film music.

I love the instrumentation, the low brass and woodwinds without becoming boring or dull. It's pounding dark, menacing mysterious gothic music combined with a fantastic amazing beautiful love theme.

While listening, it often reminded me of The Lord of the Rings music by Howard Shore, while this one was written long before his epic work. Partly because of the instrumentation of course.

The evil choral chanting and sometimes whispering makes this score an absolute thrill to me.