Film music

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Opis materiału
  • Discography: "The Manuscript Found in Saragossa", Bohdan Mazurek – sound engineer, Stanisław Radwan – piano, organ, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice, Henryk Czyż – conductor, OBUH, 2005
Music for films is a rather neglected part of Penderecki’s oeuvre. Though excerpts of his music in 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining by Stanley Kubrick and in William Friedkin’s The Exorcist played a crucial role in popularising the composer’s work, those famous titles have overshadowed other films in the production of which the composer was actively involved, writing specially for those particular movies.

This was always a very specific kind of music. In Wojciech Jerzy Has’ The Codes there are plenty of sonoristic effects. Penderecki’s music accompanies poetry, and part of the soundtrack was scored for female voices without words – a rare element in film practice. His Aria is one of three widely known works specially composed for film, and was later included in Three Pieces in Old Style; it was originally in the soundtrack for Passacaglia for Sigismund's Chapel, a documentary film without verbal commentary. In Alain Resnais’ Je t’aime, je t’aime we hear that piece arranged for voices and sung by the Warsaw Madrigal Ensemble “I Musici Cantanti”, and sections were transformed in the Experimental Studio of the Polish Radio. A film masterpiece by Has, The Saragossa Manuscript (1963), utilized Penderecki’s work both as the composer of impressive archaising minuets (the other two works in Three Pieces in Old Style) as well as his experimental studio manipulations.

Directors from the Polish animation school frequently asked Penderecki to provide soundtracks for their films. A portion of those mostly electronic soundtracks was presented at the Penderecki Project Festival in Brabant (Breda, Tilburg, ’s-Hertogenbosch and Eindhoven) in January and February 1983. The festival included a screening of Lucjan Dembiński’s King Midas with music for flute, harp, percussion and electronics. In many of these animations – a superb example is The Basilisk by Leokadia Serafinowicz and Wojciech Wieczorkiewicz – the music strictly corresponds to the images, especially rhythmically, functioning both as soundtrack and a musical illustration. The two layers are homogeneously fused and can hardly be distinguished, especially as in many cases the sound source is difficult to define. Music in a completely different style – that of renowned film composer Waldemar Kazanecki – is featured in The Abduction by the same two directors. It is almost unbelievable today that soundtracks so experimental, so “dissonant”, frequently carrying the whole weight of narration, were written for children’s cartoons…


Also notable is the stylistic diversity of this aspect of Penderecki’s music. In Leszek Lorek’s Penknife we hear a jazz, neoclassical, sonoristic piano; in Kazimierz Urbański’s Sweet Rhythms, Penderecki presents himself as a brilliant ‘taper’; in Jerzy Zitzman’s Don Juan he combines various types of traditional and dance music, wittily manipulating his initial material and creating collages… The film music by the composer of the St. Luke Passion is little researched by scholars studying Penderecki’s music, and is still waiting to be fully appreciated.