Wojciech Kilar, 81, a Polish pianist and composer of classical music and scores for many films, including Roman Polanski's Oscar-winning

The Pianist

and Francis Ford Coppola's

Bram Stoker's Dracula

, died Sunday in his hometown of Katowice, Poland, following a long illness, according to Jerzy Kornowicz, head of the Association of Polish Composers.

"The power and the message of his music, as well as the noble character of Wojciech Kilar as a person, will stay in my memory forever," Kornowicz said.

A modest man who often avoided public attention, Mr. Kilar's main love was composing symphonies and concertos, and he always put that above movies, even though he wrote the scores of dozens of films. He drew inspiration from Polish folk music and religious prayers and hymns, which he had learned in Latin as an altar boy. - AP