FMF Krakow: A festival with Abel Korzeniowski

FMF 2017 logoOver the past months, we’ve been reporting on the 2017 Krakow Film Music Festival. Our last report differs from the others in that it recounts more than a concert. This year marked Abel Korzeniowski‘s second appearance at the festival (his first being in 2013). He opened the event in style, conducting a whole concert of his music and then was involved in several events after that.


Initially, it was announced that Korzeniowski would put on a masterclass. Disappointingly it later disappeared from the program. Unbeknownst to us, it had not been cancelled, so when Korzeniowski showed up for his masterclass in the room we were still in (having just seen Matthijs Kieboom’s masterclass), we were delighted by our good fortune.

Abel Korzeniowski at FMF masterclass

It was obvious from the start that we were in for something special, because Korzeniowski was not wearing his complete suit (wearing a full suit is the image he is always going for in public). Although he was dressed more casually, he seemed a bit uncomfortable talking to the audience, taking quite a lot of time thinking about each sentence. Nevertheless, it was nice to get a glimpse into the composer’s brilliant mind and working methods. For example, he told us that when he is facing a deadline he finds it more effective to just take a nap and come back to tackle the problem with a fresh state of mind later. He was also asked who influenced him the most. He could answer that he is not influenced by one or two persons, but that he is influenced by everything around him.

Q & A

A couple days later the festival hosted a meet and greet with Korzeniowski. This time it was properly announced in the program, so most people in the audience were Korzeniowski’s fans. Since it did not take place in the usual workshop place, but in a smaller venue, the room was packed and people like me who entered a bit later had to stand on the sides of the room. For this meeting he was wearing his full suit again, and for some reason he seemed more in his element in this meeting, smiling more often and speaking more comfortably. There was a table on stage with two chairs, two microphones and two bottles of water, but Korzeniowski did not want to sit down, so he and his host were standing justight in front of the crowd, answering questions and having a laugh from time to time.

Abel Korzeniowski at FMF Q&A

This time around, I got the chance to ask a question myself. I had noticed that during his concert, Korzekiowski had used a full orchestra, but without any trumpets, so I asked him why that was. That resulted in a nice conversation where he asked me if I was a trumpet player. I am not, though I do play the tuba. He also corrected me by saying that in the last couple of pieces there were trumpet players that I had totally missed. But to answer the question, he told the audience and me that he finds the sound of trumpets too bright and that he does not like to write the same melodies in different instruments when the music does not need it. All in all, it was a very nice meeting and Abel Korzeniowski was wonderful and patient in signing for the fans before and after the session, including my W.E. CD.

Abel Korzeniowski at FMF signing

Concert: The Music of Abel Korzeniowski

In addition to being one of the guests at the All is Film Music gala, Korzeniowski also opened the festival with his own concert in the ICE Conference Center. After saying hello to the audience, he took the helm of the orchestra and started to conduct his own music. It is very hard for me to describe all the music of Korzeniowski in detail. He has a very melodic and repetitive style that is very recognizable, but every piece has its own unique melody or pattern.

The music from Penny Dreadful was very nicely balanced being tense and dark, but also still very melodic, emotional and beautiful. The featured violinist and pianist were both very solid. Most of the time I do not like the music to be accompanied by clips from the movie on a screen, but in this case it really added to the experience. After almost 40 minutes of music from Penny Dreadful, it was time for music from Romeo and Juliet, which was a good example of how Korzeniowski uses long chords in the brass instruments to support the strings, giving the melodies even more emotion.

After the intermission, we heard music from Nocturnal Animals. That piece included a very nice tense buildup that kept repeating, but was slightly different every time, making it both unnerving and enjoyable. The next piece was from A Single Man, with a main role for the violinist again. My favorite Korzeniowski was next on the program: music from W.E., including the very enjoyable “Evgeni’s Waltz” with a great performance by the pianist. The last piece on the program was from Escape from Tomorrow. It was a perfect ending to a great evening with “Grand Finale” as the last cue. However, before we were sent home, we got to hear “Ethan’s Waltz” from Penny Dreadful once more – this time as an encore.

Abel Korzeniowski at FMF concert

Abel Korzeniowski’s music is just perfect to be performed on a big stage, making a full evening with his music extremely enjoyable: every cue was a piece of musical art on its own. I still have my doubts about how they amplify the music in this hall. When standing in front of the stage (since I have a press pass, I am allowed to take photos from there), it’s confusing to see the violins right in front of you, but then hear them from far-away speakers on the ceiling. It is something I cannot get used to. Since I have enjoyed a Star Wars concert in the same venue without any amplification, I am wondering if the amplification is really necessary. Nevertheless, before the festival I only owned one Abel Korzeniowski CD and now I own five – this should give you an idea of the impact the concerts had on me. I want to thank Mr. Korzeniowski for his presence and for his awesome contribution to the festival.

Concert information

Where and when: Krakow, Poland – May 17th 2017 during the Film Music Festival
Orchestra: Beethoven Academy Orchestra conducted by Abel Korzeniowski


  • Penny Dreadful
    • Revelation
    • Demimonde
    • Dark Rooms
    • Street. Horse. Smell. Candle.
    • Welcome to the Grand Guignol
    • Ethan’s Waltz
    • Melting Waltz
    • Joan Clayton
    • The Duel
    • The Master
    • Know your Master
    • Boat to Africa
    • Be True
  • Romeo & Juliet
    • Cheek of Night
    • Come, Gentle Night
    • A Thousand Times Good Night


  • Nocturnal Animals
    • Wayward Sisters
    • Off the Road
    • Field
    • Table for Two
  • A Single Man
    • Daydreams
    • Sunset
    • Swimming
    • Stillness of the Mind
  • W.E.
    • I Will Follow You
    • Evgeni’s Waltz
    • Abdication
    • Dance for me Wallis
  • Escape from Tomorrow
    • Gates of Tomorrow
    • Grand Finale
  • Penny Dreadful – Ethan’s Waltz (Encore)

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