Composer Wojciech Kilar in 2005.

(Photo: Lzur via Wikimedia Commons)
Polish composer Wojciech Kilar died Sunday at 81, leaving behind numerous award-winning film scores and concert pieces. 

While the composer racked up praise and paychecks for his work on films by Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Polanski and others, his own pieces were always his first priority, the Associated Press noted:

Kilar's dedication to composing primarily for the concert halls even led him to lose a commission to write the score for Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. "In a movie, music is just one of the many elements," Kilar once said. "Serious music, which I compose, is signed with my name only, and I get real pleasure from that."

Kilar wrote music for more than 130 movies in Poland and abroad, but "Dracula" won him the Best Score Composer award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in 1992.

Kilar was often mentioned alongside other contemporary Polish composers such as Penderecki and Lutoslawski. If you’re unfamiliar with his work, “Exodus” is a good place to start.

Though written for the concert hall, it’s as epic and cinematic as any film music you’ll hear, and it's one of the composer's many sacred works. "Exodus" swells from a plodding, repetitive passage of harp and woodwinds into a thundering crescendo with a chamber orchestra and choir.

Here’s video of a performance of "Exodus" from Polish TV in 2012:

Performance of "Exodus" celebrating Wojciech Kilar's 80th birthday in 2012 at the Gaude Mater sacred music festival in Czestochowa, Poland. The composer passed away Dec. 29, 2013.