82. Krzesany
Written by Wojciech Kilar, 1974
Performed by the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (Katowice)
From the CD Angelus – Exodus – Krzesany (Naxos 21st Century Classics, China 2002)




Kilar’s composition was part of the score for Andrei Wajda’s 1974 movie The Promised Land. Here is some biographical information on Kilar, from the text ‘Wojciech Kilar’, by Polish clarinettist and conductor Jan Jakub Bokun, sourced from the Polish Music Website at the University of Southern California www.usc.edu/dept/polish_music/composer/kilar.html:

‘Wojciech Kilar, [b. 17 July 1932 in Lvów (formerly Poland, now in Ukraine)], is today one of Poland’s premier symphonic composers. Kilar belongs to the generation of composers who made their debut in the 1950s and 60s. Alongside Górecki, Penderecki, and the older Schaeffer and Szalonek, Kilar presented his early avant-garde works at the first Warsaw Autumn festival. However, even within this aura of novelty and modernity, Kilar kept his predilection for simple and expressive structures, as well as his fascination with Polish highland folk music.

Kilar’s works have been performed by several major international orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic. For the past 30 years, he has also been composing music for films. He has worked on numerous projects with Krzysztof Zanussi, Andrzej Wajda, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Paul Grimault, Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Polanski, and others.’


Here is an excerpt from an interview with Kilar conducted in 2007 by Agnieszka Flakus in ‘Music: Speaking your own language’, for the magazine Plus, Journal of Polish American Affairs, Saturday, July 14, 2007. You can read the complete text at http://www.pljournal.com/music/wojciech-kilar-interview.html:

‘AF: What do you listen to privately?

W.K.: To what everyone else does, beautiful, classical music (Mozart, Bach), but also some good jazz (rather from my youth era, which is still wonderful). I have just exchanged the CDs in my car and I had to include ’House of Blues’ by Miles Davis, ‘Riders on the Storm’ by The Doors, and ‘The Wall’ by Pink Floyd.

There was also a time that I was fascinated by reggae. It resulted in a certain way in ‘Exodus’. This piece was based on a Jewish melody connected to the Purim festival, and I was going to call it that way. Purim is a festival of liberation; it was supposed to manifest solidarity. But then I listened to Bob Marley’s ‘Exodus’, which also talks about freedom, liberation, and about the pilgrimage of God’s people, so having been motivated by the song I also called my piece ‘Exodus’.

AF: We have mentioned that you were born in Lvov. By many it is considered to be a special place. Has this fact in any way influenced your life and your career?

W.K.: Certainly, since Lvov was a city of many cultures; it was home for the Ukrainians, Russians, Jews and Poles. People born there are not prejudiced against any religions or nationalities. I learned to be tolerant, to have respect for different cultures and to be open to other opinions. I believe that ‘all people are brothers’ unlike Schiller, who said ‘all people shall be brothers.’ I think that all that is now present in my music – ‘Magnificent’, ‘Exodus’ represent just that. I think that I am pro American and pro Israel.

Do you ever visit Lvov?

W.K.: No. I have never been to Lvov after the war. It would bee too painful for me.’


This is the story of Lvov during the Second World War, sourced from the United States Holocaust Museum Holocaust Encyclopaedia – www.ushmm.org:

‘The city of Lvov (L’viv) in south eastern Poland was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1939, under the terms of the German-Soviet Pact. There were over 200,000 Jews in Lvov in September 1939; nearly 100,000 were Jewish refugees from German-occupied Poland. The Germans subsequently occupied Lvov after the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941

Encouraged by German forces to begin violent actions against the Jewish population in Lvov, Ukrainian nationalists massacred about 4,000 Jews in early July 1941. Another pogrom, known as the Petliura Days, was organized in late July. This pogrom was named for Simon Petliura, who had organised anti-Jewish pogroms in the Ukraine after World War I. For three days, Ukrainian militants went on a rampage through the Jewish districts of Lvov. They took groups of Jews to the Jewish cemetery and to Lunecki prison and shot them. More than 2,000 Jews were murdered and thousands more were injured.

In early November 1941, the Germans established a ghetto in the north of Lvov. German police shot thousands of elderly and sick Jews as they crossed the bridge on Peltewna Street on their way to the ghetto. In March 1942, the Germans began deporting Jews from the ghetto to the Belzec extermination camp.

By August 1942, more than 65,000 Jews had been deported from the Lvov ghetto and murdered. Thousands of Jews were sent for forced labour to the nearby Janowska camp. In early June 1943, the Germans destroyed the ghetto, killing thousands of Jews in the process. The remaining ghetto residents were sent to the Janowska forced-labour camp or deported to Belzec.’


Promised Land was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Here is Andrzej Wajda discussing the film on his website www.wajda.pl:

‘In spring 1973, tired and dissatisfied with myself, I occupied myself with work around the house. Krystyna had just sown the lawn and the experts advised us that the first trimming had to be done with scissors. Kneeling, I managed to cut a surface not much bigger than a table, and then decided I preferred to make films after all. I immediately felt light and full of energy.

I suggested Promised Land. The project was accepted and next summer we began to shoot. We became involved in a wonderful adventure with a city, where every day revealed to us new fragments of its unique past.

However, the greatest source of riches for the film was [Wladislaw] Reymont’s novel [The Promised Land] itself. I was quite aware of this.

Reymont described people who after Romanticism initiated a new development in our history. Without them, without their factories, without the workers who had worked there in terrible conditions, today would not have been.

One of the three leading characters is a Pole, the second – a German, and the third – a Jew. These ethnic differences do not come between them. They found a factory together, and are linked by a shared business and by a sense of belonging to the group of ’Lodzermensch’ – the men of Lodz. This peculiar Polish-German-Jewish amalgam of Lodz population at that time is extremely interesting; it seduces with colour, variety of customs and of human types and attitudes.

Promised Land is the only Polish novel of this type, absolutely unique in Polish literature. Its realism was perfectly compatible with the essence of cinema, which relies on photographic description of the world. Also the dialogues proved to be nearly phonetic records of the language used by people observed by Reymont. Each of the characters speaks his own language, expressing in Polish thoughts translated from German, Russian, or Yiddish, and thus creating a linguistic richness not present in any other Polish novel written at the end of the 19th century.’


A review of Wajda’s Promised Land, by Konrad Eberhardt, published in the December 1974 edition of Warsaw film journal Kino and sourced from www.wajda.pl/en/filmy/film18.html:

‘Andrzej Wajda not only discarded Reymont’s emotional descriptions, he also parted with some of his illusions, such as that decent and persevering people ‘could survive in Lodz.’ In the film version of Promised Land, Trawinski, who in vain asked his compatriot Borowiecki for assistance, commits suicide [...]. The vast majority of characters in Promised Land are creatures who openly admit that in their activity they are not guided by ethics, who openly do things that members of the more enlightened Western middle class tend to veil in patriotic slogans, justify by ‘higher goals’, or compensate by ostensible ‘charity.’ Thus, Promised Land shows us uncivilised capitalism, raw and realistic like some emanation of the animal nature of human beings.’



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