Wojciech Kilar: Dracula – The Beginning


Polish composer Wojciech Kilar composed the music for the 1992 Gothic horror film, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which starred the likes of Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves. Apart from the closing song, which was written and performed by Annie Lennox, Kilar’s soundtrack for this film became highly successful. Kilar’s no-nonsense, epic style carries this music and effectively accentuates Francis Ford Coppola’s film.  


The Music

Dracula – The Beginning is the first track heard both in the film and on the feature-length album. Clocking in at around 7 minutes in duration, this opening work sets the tone for the whole film. Opening quietly with low notes played on a number of instruments, the dynamic slowly builds into a cello soli. As the tension grows, the intensity of the cello soli tightens its grasp on the listener. The low notes are repeated for a number of minutes as this opening theme is explored by more of the string section. 

As the tempo begins to speed up, the intensity of the music reaches its climax. Full of big brass sounds and a rolling timpani, the height is dramatic and totally in character for the film. The impending doom that comes from these themes slowly disintegrate into a mysterious theme that is led by plucked lower strings and tremolo upper strings. After a break in the orchestral music, a choir appears. The metric chanting from the lower voices become quieter to make way for a solo soprano to sing a the new theme. The atmosphere is creepy here, with the full-bodiness of Kilar’s music finally revealing itself. 

The orchestra slowly start trickling back in, with an impending snare drum leading the way. The mix of the chorus and orchestra is a powerful message, perhaps hinting at the power of Dracula himself. Kilar draws out the slow grow of the dynamics, which completely fill the air with dramatic stabs, dissonant harmony and dark undertones. After the climax the music reverts back to similar material from the opening, with the low notes fading into the darkness by the end of the piece.


Ⓒ Alex Burns

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