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Zbigniew Preisner

Polish Composer

Personal Life

Zbigniew Preisner was a composer from Kraków, Poland. He has written film scores and worked with filmmakers such as Krzysztof Kieślowski, Andrzej Wajda, Agnieszka Holland, and Werner Herzog. Preisner is best known for his work with Kieślowski on the Three Colors trilogy and the Decalogue, as well as for his musical setting of the Polish national epic, Pan Tadeusz.


Preisner was educated at the Kraków Academy of Music, where he studied composition under Krzysztof Penderecki. He subsequently worked with Penderecki on several theatre and film productions, including Andrzej Wajda’s The Chronicles of Holy Wood and Danton’s Death.

Preisner’s first major film score was for Holland’s To Kill a Priest in 1988. This was followed by scores for Kieślowski’s No End (1985), A Short Film About Killing (1988), and Decalogue (1988-89). Preisner’s work with Kieślowski culminated in the Three Colors trilogy: Blue (1993), White (1994), and Red (1994).

Preisner has continued to work with leading Polish and international filmmakers, such as Herzog (My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? 2009), Andrzej Zulawski (On the Silver Globe, 1988), and Pawel Pawlikowski (Last Resort, 2000). He has also composed concert works, such as his Requiem for My Friend (1998), a setting of the Polish national epic, Pan Tadeusz (1999), and his First Symphony (2007).


Did You Know?

Preisner, a 57-year-old Polish composer, wrote his Requiem for a Friend in 1998, the “friend” in question being the director Krysztof Kiéslowski, who died two years earlier. The melody that one might, judging by the title, believe to be morbid, is in fact very luminous and meditative, like a cry directed towards the mystery that constitutes the end of life on Earth. It is also one of the music used in Terrence Malick’s film Tree of Life, during the long poetic scene depicting the creation of the universe.

Zbigniew Preisner

Zbigniew Preisner Recordings


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