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Home FMF Awards

Winner 2018 - Michael Nyman

The Jury of the Kilar Award granted the award to the British artist for his ability to create musical metaphors, helping the spectator to read between the lines.

Attention to ethics and traditions of composing art, the originality of the musical language, creative versatility, technical mastery, legibility and autonomy of soundtracks – are the main criteria of choosing the winner of the Kilar Award. The British composer Michael Nyman, who composed the scores for Jane Campion’s three-time Oscar winning film The Piano, will be the fourth winner of this prestigious award in its history. 

The Wojciech Kilar Award has been funded by the Mayors of Krakow and Katowice in recognition of the achievements in world film music and having in mind artists who – following the patron of the award – have remained faithful to traditional art of composition. ”We nominate the artists who – like once Wojciech Kilar did – put film music on an equal footing with autonomous works, devoting much attention and brining a focus to it. The establishment of this award has three goals. The first is to pay tribute to the great composer, the second to honour original creators whose work draws inspiration from folk and national traditions, and the third is cooperation between Krakow and Katowice in the field of culture and film” – says Robert Piaskowski, Artistic Director of the Film Music Festival.

The first winner of the Wojciech Kilar Award (2015) was the Oscar-winning American composer of music for Frida, Elliot Goldenthal. In the year that followed, the award went to the French composer Alexandre Desplat – the author of the Oscar-winning soundtrack for Grand Budapest Hotel. In 2017 the statuette went to Howard Shore – three times Oscar winner (The Lord of the Rings) and a Golden Globe winner, who composed nearly a hundred soundtracks for various genres of films.

In 2018 the Kilar Award will go to Michael Nyman – a British composer, musicologist and pianist, the author of around eighty film scores, symphonic and chamber music works, operas and music to do videogame Enemy Zero. Nyman graduated from the Royal Academy of Music (composition, piano) and King’s College (musicology) in London. He started his career from musical criticism and research on Romanian folk music. He also took interest in John Cage’s music and its impact on music by contemporary composers. In 1974 he published his conclusions in the work titled Experimental Music Cage and Beyond. As a composer he is particularly fond of opera – among his most famous titles there are The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat 1986u, as well as Facing Goya from 2000 and Man and Boy: Dada from 2003.

He debuted on the silver screen in the 1970s. Almost immediately he started regular cooperation with the famous post-modernist director Peter Greeneway. What history of the cinema owes to Nyman is the introduction of minimalism to film music – the composer first used this term as early as 968, in the article titled Minimal Music, published in the British magazine The Spectator. According to the Polish musicologist Anna G. Piotrowska, this type of music was to ”help personalisation of the content”. During his fifteen-year collaboration with Greenaway, Nyman created a model of the film score based on traditional elements of composition language combined with modern music style with great mastery. His soundtracks to such masterpieces of post-modernist cinema as The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989) or The Drowning with Numbers (1988) is based on the simplicity of consonance, regular rhythms and persistent repetitiveness of one musical motif. The composer gained the greatest popularity for his minimalist soundtrack, composed in 1993 for the historical drama The Piano directed by Jane Campion. The record with the soundtrack for The Piano sold in three millions of copies.

The Jury of the Wojciech Kilar Award chose and honoured Michael Nyman for the originality of his film music, both strictly connected with the plot and opposing the picture and discovering the meaning and sense that are invisible on the screen and unheard in dialogues. The members of the Jury appreciated his approach to musical tradition. ”His research on folk songs is similar as the worship of and respect to heritage typical of the patron of the award Wojciech Kilar; they show that the roots of music can be a great source of inspiration and emotions. Nyman shows a deep understanding to the complexity of the world and art, which at the same time allows to translate it into the most universal language of all – the language of music” –we can read in the justification of the Jury’s decision.


Pic. Fernando Aceves

The Kilar Award

The Kilar Award is granted for the lifetime achievement, to the most unique and original composers.

Artists nominated to the Award are loyal to the traditional art of composition, they create instrumentation independently, write pieces, that can stand on their own, and possess the ability to masterfully and creatively use the language of music, colour, tone and texture. See more

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