Joanna Bruzdowicz Dies: Film Composer Known For Her Work With Agnès Varda Was 78

Joanna Bruzdowicz
Joanna Bruzdowicz Agencja Gazeta

Joanna Bruzdowicz, the Polish-French composer whose wide-reaching work included several collaborations with Agnès Varda, has died. She was 78.

Her family confirmed to Deadline that Bruzdowicz died peacefully November 3 at her music studio in the French Pyrenees.

“The shock of her departure is so great and so sudden, it seems impossible to process our loss as a family,” her son Jörg Tittel commented. “We can take some comfort in knowing that she will continue talking to us through her music. I hope that her untimely departure will lead to more people discovering her seminal work.”

Born in Warsaw, Bruzdowicz was a child prodigy and wrote her first concerto at age 6. She studied at the Warsaw Music High School, at the State Higher School of Music, and earned her M.A. in 1966.

Receiving a scholarship from the French government, she continued her studies in Paris and became a student of Nadia Boulanger, Olivier Messiaen and Pierre Schaeffer. She joined the electroacoustic Groupe de Recherches Musicales and wrote her doctoral thesis Mathematics and Logic in Contemporary Music at the Sorbonne.

After completing her studies in France, she settled in Belgium with her late husband, Horst-Jürgen Tittel, former top advisor to the president of the European Commission. There, she worked across opera, symphonic and chamber music, composing scores for film and TV.

Bruzdowicz had a long-standing relationship with revered Polish director Agnès Varda – who died in 2019 – with the pair collaborating on titles including the Venice Golden Lion-winning Vagabond and her documentary The Gleaners And I.

With her husband Tittel she created the German episodic series Stahlkammer Zürich, which ran for 36 episodes and for which Bruzdowicz wrote more than 15 hours of music.

Later in life, she collaborated with her son Jörg Tittel and daughter-in-law Alex Helfrecht, including composing the score for their debut feature The White King.

Bruzdowicz also co-founded musical organizations such as the Chopin-Szymanowski Association in Belgium, Jeunesses Musicales in Poland, GIMEP in France and the International Encounters in Music in Catalonia.

Bruzdowicz leaves behind three sons: Mark, Jan and Jörg Tittel, four grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

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