Written by John Corigliano – Oscar, Pulitzer Prize, and 5-time Grammy Award-winning composer
As a composition faculty member at the Juilliard School, I first met Wlad in the Spring of 2007. He came to New York from Poland, wanting to become my student. He didn’t speak a word of English, and even if he did, his severe stutter would have made it impossible for him to communicate. He failed the written exam miserably, as he couldn’t understand any of it. Also, his chances weren’t looking good from a financial standpoint. Juilliard is one of the most expensive music schools in the world, while at the time, Wlad’s net worth was around…three hundred dollars.
To make matters worse, he had to take an English language exam, which he subsequently failed multiple times in a row. Any other person in his position would have given up or never tried auditioning in the first place. Despite all his struggles, I saw something in him. It was his determination that impressed me. Ultimately, I decided to give him a chance.
Before I knew it, Wlad managed to learn English, passed his exam, significantly reduced his stutter, and was given the honor of receiving a full scholarship to study at Juilliard. That’s how he became one of my three students. I was surprised to learn that Wlad had only studied music for five years before he met me. Once I started teaching Wlad, it wasn’t long before his music career skyrocketed as major orchestras around the world began performing his compositions. His incredible ability to learn fast can be explained by talent. However, from what I’ve seen, talent played just a minor role in his journey. It was his mindset, work ethic, and determination that got him to where he is now.
After graduation, Wlad went to Los Angeles to pursue the career of a film composer. By that time, I knew what to expect of him. Within a few years, Wlad was working with established directors and writing music for big Hollywood movies. Later, however, I learned that while he loved writing music, he found working in the film industry draining. Just as he signed with one of the biggest music publishers in the world, he decided to try something completely new: game development.
He knew nothing about making games. When he told me about his decision, I supported him fully and was happy he had found something he truly loved. It didn’t worry me that Wlad was about to enter a completely unfamiliar industry with no knowledge, no skills, and no connections. After all, I’d seen him do it before.
I’m thrilled that his game DARQ turned out so well. I’m also not surprised. Against all odds, Wlad’s unique mindset allows him to make his wildest dreams come true. I hope his book inspires others to follow their dreams too, no matter what the odds are. Wlad’s story proves that it’s possible.
Oscar, Pulitzer Prize, and 5-time Grammy Award-winning composer