DECEASED WOJCIECH KILAR - A COMPOSER – FRIEND AND MAN OF DEEP FAITH
FR. JAN GOLONKA OSPPE
The Holy Father John Paul II used to say: ‘In plans of God’s Providence there are not any cases’. In plans of God’s Providence every life has got its place and time. Also like and career of the composer Wojciech Kilar has its proper place and time. A prophet Jeremiah wrote: ‘Before I created you in your mother’s womb, I had known you’. And he added: ‘you will go where I will send you and you will say what I will tell you’. For it is true that God calls us for life. It is also a fact that God has some plans and expectations towards us. But it depends on human being what we will truly do with the gift of life given onto our hands.
Let me return to my personal memories for a while, concerning particularly the years 1982 to 1987, which were particularly difficult for me as a carer of art collections at Jasna Góra.
At that time, at Jasna Góra there were conservative works on the monumental, unique altar – the throne of the Queen of Poland, funded by the great crown chancellor Jerzy Ossolini in 1650. That was not all of my duties! At that time I also undertook a risky task based on organizing three painting open-air areas. It was a memorable time, the time of bankruptcy of communist economy, the time of the national protest against the regime authority, completely corrupt and incapacitated towards the foreign empire. The Church became a refuge at that memorable time. Prominent creators of culture found their shelter under its caring wings, and at Jasna Góra a significant collections of about 300 pictures remained. Today it is rightly considered as a prominent collection documenting – in works of mostly exceptional artistic values – the time of the Polish spurt, martyrology of war time, hope and gift of freedom. On this occasion, however, not only painting works appeared.
For, in this historical moment, Jasna Góra was lucky to host the great Polish composer Wojciech Kilar. He stayed, prayed and lived with the Pauline Fathers – he will remain in my memory for ever, his face, hidden in his hands, seen from a Jasna Góra hassock in the chapel of Our Lady. This place gave him an occasion for his surprising observations. One day he confessed that in the first half of a week, when there were less pilgrims at Jasna Góra, the words ‘Hail Mary’ spreading in the air sounded subtle, ‘piano’. In the second half of a week, in the chapel full of pilgrims, a voice was hitting listeners and was nearly ‘tearing’ their ears. He told me that sounds of words of praying people were floating in the space of the chapel, bouncing from cornices and vaults. Just then the Artist felt an inner order to register these sound intensity, expressiveness of the prayer ‘Hail Mary’, echo of words spreading in the chapel, onto the musical staff. Who knows the musical composition of Wojciech Kilar ‘Angelus’, can imagine experiences of a spoken prayer as well as dramaturgy of Poles pleads addressed to Our Lady at the time of the National Spurt of the 80s.
I think that the real royal gift of Wojciech Kilar, deposited in the votive treasury on the memorable day 13 October 1985, will remain at Jasna Góra forever as an unusual work of the human talent which became somehow an extension of the Angelic Greeting from God’s Inspiration. Hence, in my memory and heart the date 13 October 1985 and that time, will always remain connected with a great artistic experience, but not with a paintbrush this time, but expressed with musical notes! Thanks be to God!
Inspiring talks and walks along the monastery paths, leading through historical representative insides, in sacral spaces, along the parks of Jasna Góra, also became an unforgettable experience for me, as a man, for a Pauline Father at Jasna Góra. Also looking together at view axis leading eyesight from far away towards the sanctuary, walking along roads trodden by pilgrims approaching the Holy Place will remain in my memory forever. Moreover, I will remember a view from my own room, at the composer hiding his head in his hands, while being plunged in prayer reflection on mysteries of the Redemption, about which the Jasna Góra Cross Stations say. And thanks be to God also for it!
Today, being full of reflection, I am looking at the dedication which the Composer wrote on the manuscript of his work ‘Angelus’: ‘Mother, who wanted to me to compose the cantata ‘Angelus’ in Your Jasna Góra home and under Your Miraculous care, during a hard trial of our consciences, deign to make one more grace and accept this musical ‘Hail Mary’ and its first manuscript as mine and my wife Barbara’s gift of gratitude, for abundance of good and hope, which we received from Your Son through Your intercession. We entrust you, Mary, at Your Jasna Góra altar, in front of Your Miraculous Image, the rest of our days, our thoughts, our works. Mary full of grace, pray for us. Wojciech Kilar/Barbara Kilar, Jasna Góra, 13 X 1985’. Reading this dedication, I am thinking about a man who is both a great composer and author of these words so full of humility and love!
Today when Wojciech Kilar passed away to God, I reminisce with emotions every anniversary of the birthday of the Friend of Jasna Góra – and my Friend – worth attention of all. He came to Jasna Góra many times, being full of prayer reflection. Our Lady was a magnet attracting Him to this place. For only She ‘is given for defence’. As somebody said rightly ‘cuddle to Mary, and you will cuddle to Jesus!’ And thanks to God for this continuous ‘cuddling’ of Wojciech Kilar both to Our Lady of Jasna Góra and to Jesus! Rest in eternal peace, our Friend!!!