Classical Music Used In the Movies
Who can forget the stirring rendition of Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto
played in Shine? Or the somber reflection provided by Barber's Adagio for
Strings in Platoon? Here's a look at some classical
compositions that have found their way onto the silver screen.
Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings
Heard in Platoon and The
Elephant Man, this gripping,
soul-stirring work is arguably the
masterpiece of American Composer
Samuel Barber (1910-1981).
Brooding, elegiac, and thoroughly
beautiful, Barber's short symphonic
work is one of the most popular
20th-century compositions ever
written. The work has been used at
memorials for Presidents Roosevelt
and Kennedy, but this recording led
by Thomas Schippers is the very
best. If you want to hear this piece in
several fascinating interpreted
variations, check out a disc simply
titled Barber's Adagio.
Immortal Beloved includes Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, Fur Elise, Symphony No. 3 "Eroica", Moonlight Sonata, Symphony No. 6 "Pastoral", Piano Trio No. 4 "Ghost", Violin Concerto, Pathetique Sonata, Piano Concerto No. 5 "Emperor", Missa Solemnis, Symphony No. 7, Kreutzer Sonata and Symphony No. 9.
John Corigliano's score for The Red Violin
The Red Violin - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Composer: John Corigliano
Conductor: Esa-Pekka Salonen
Performer: Joshua Bell, Nicholas Bucknall, et al.
Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra, Shanghai Film Studio Children's Chorus
Corigliano's score for The Red Violin won an Oscar, Seventy-Second Annual Awards
Normally we think of a musical instrument as a passive object in the service of a performing artist. But what if that instrument is itself a work of art, containing the secrets of the various owners through whose hands it has passed over the centuries? That's the premise behind this intriguing film by François Girard (director of 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould). It traces the story of a legendary violin (thought to be possessed by an immortal soul) from its birth in 17th-century Italy through Mozart's Vienna, Victorian England, and revolutionary China to its present-day fate on the auction block. The score, in suggesting the violin's unique aura, therefore carries much of the burden of the story, and it brings together some of the most outstanding talents in contemporary classical music. Composer John Corigliano's richly eclectic and poetic score--encompassing classical elegance, gypsy passion, and angst-ridden harmonies--etches vivid portraits of the film's various epochs but also gives an overarching sense of unity to the episodic character of the script. It's essentially a set of remarkably imaginative variations for violin and orchestra on a theme of haunting pathos and is a substantial work of music in its own right. As the soloist, Joshua Bell saturates the eponymous instrument with personality. His combination of virtuoso bravura and soulful phrasing almost seems to lead the violin to the brink of human speech. Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen shapes the exchange between orchestra and violin into tautly dramatic dialogue. The disc also includes a powerful related work on the theme used in the score, the Chaconne for Violin and Orchestra, which confirms Corigliano's status as one of today's leading and most personally communicative American composers.
This CD has listening samples.
Fantasia 2000: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack
Without the gorgeous visuals, the soundtrack to Fantasia 2000 is nothing more than a collection of
some of classical music's greatest moments. But what moments they are! Conductor James Levine
and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra provide new (though hardly groundbreaking) arrangements
for these classical music warhorses. Piano virtuoso Yefim Bronfman joins in to record the Allegro
section of Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2 (if you like this track, check out Bronfman playing
the entire piece on his 1999 disc with the Los Angeles Philharmonic), and soprano Kathleen Battle
lends a high note to the climax of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance (MKO Note: This was arranged by Peter Schickele. We also get the classic
Sorcerer's Apprentice from the original (and now out-of-print) Fantasia soundtrack. Performed by
Philharmonia Orchestra, the Paul Dukas composition still steals the show. The original movie may
have been a flop, but with any luck Fantasia 2000 will turn some young minds on to classical music,
especially with such inspired choices as Respighi's Pines of Rome. Like what you hear? Remember,
these are just excerpts and you really owe it to yourself to hear the works in their entirety--slow
movements and all. That said, whether you're a Disney fan, an IMAX aficionado, or just a
classical-lover-to-be, you can't go wrong with this disc.
MKO Note: The version of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in
Blue" is wonderful!
This CD has listening samples.
Gilbert and Sullivan
Topsy-Turvy - The Music of Gilbert & Sullivan
by Gilbert and Sullivan, Carl Davis
The producers of Mike Leigh's vibrant Topsy-Turvy took many big studio meetings seeking
financing for their film. Word has it all went swimmingly until time for the pitch came--there are
apparently no two words as unsettling to Hollywood film execs as "Gilbert & Sullivan." But the
studio system's loss turned out to be the indie film's--and our--gain. Leigh's film brought the
composers' late-19th-century mounting of their breakthrough The Mikado to an all-too-familiar
life, filled with as many neuroses, foibles, and fragile egos as any modern Broadway musical. The
film's score, an inviting pastiche adapted from Mikado (and other G&S staples) by veteran Carl
Davis, may upset purists with its time-conscious liberties. But then, it might just win over a receptive
yet unexposed new audience for whom this music may seem strangely familiar, as well it should: this
is where modern musical theater began.
Information about Topsy-Turvey Screenplay
This CD has listening samples.
Composer: Philip Glass
Orchestra: Kronos Quartet
It's no surprise that some of Philip Glass's most inspiring projects have been multimedia. The
composer's minimalist tendencies lend themselves to the accompaniment of vast landscapes, silent
films, and--now--Tod Browning's 1931 horror classic, Dracula. With longstanding collaborators the
Kronos Quartet performing the score, Glass has created a soundtrack that moves with rapid-fire
momentum and a timeless chamber-music feel. Dracula never sounds sinister or ironic, just
ominous--the perfect companion to a film with plenty of dialogue but no pre-existing score. So what
if we've already heard Glass's stylistic trademarks--striking arpeggios, repeated motifs, and the
like--on any number of albums (for example, the Kronos/Glass soundtrack to Mishima or Uakti's
1999 release, Aguas de Amazonia)? Unlike the epic three and a half hours of Music in Twelve
Parts, this enjoyable disc takes just over an hour and it's well worth hearing. In the new video
release of Dracula, accompanied by Glass's score, you'll never see Bela Lugosi's mug the same way
This CD has listening samples.
Korngold Music In Film
Includes Alexander Nevsky, Opus 78, composed by Sergei Prokofiev; Red Pony: Morning on the Ranch, composed by Aaron Copland; A Place in the Sun: Suite, composed by Franz Waxman; High Noon: High Noon, composed by Dmitri Tiomkin; On the Waterfront: Main Theme, composed by Leonard Bernstein; East of Eden: Prelude; composed by Leonard Rosenman; Bridge on the River Kwai: Working On The Bridge, composed by Malcolm Arnold; Ben Hur: Parade of the charioteers, composed by Miklós Rózsa; The Magnificent Seven: Main Theme, composed by Elmer Bernstein and more.
Amadeus includes Mozart's Symphony No, 25, Stabat Mater, his only concerto for two pianos, Mass in C Minor and
Marriage of Figaro.
Concerto No. 21 dominates the musical theme in Elvira Madigan.
Musichound Soundtracks: The Essential Album Guide to Film,
Television and Stage Music
by Didier C. Deutsch (Editor)
The publisher, Visible Ink Press , January 13, 2000
"If you're interested in diving further into the realm of soundtracks and don't know where to start,
look no further. It's all here with brief yet educating passages about the flicks, the year they were
made and their music and composers. This is something you should not be without ... this book is
so fat with information, it may just break your arm when you're trying to pick it up!"
The publisher, Visible Ink Press , November 16, 1999
IN A "SOUNDTRACK-CRAZY" WORLD, HOW DO YOU CHOOSE?
Where once soundtracks were primarily sought out by collectors of the genre, today they are
marketed to and purchased by a complete cross-spectrum of consumers. Nearly every film, and
more and more television shows, are producing and heavily promoting soundtrack CDs. Add
these to the tremendous number of releases from the last several years, as well as countless
reissues or re-creations of vintage scores (covering more than 70 years of film, stage and television
music) and the choices are
staggering. Advice on what to buy has never been needed more.
Fortunately, the folks at MusicHound® have recognized this need and have created
MusicHound® Soundtracks: The Essential Album Guide to Film, Television and Stage Music
which rates and reviews 3,000 soundtrack recordings available on CD. The CDs are reviewed in
an A to Z format with each being identified as either a film, television or stage soundtrack. Each
entry provides complete production information and a review that takes into consideration
production quality, musical quality, and the degree to which the music relates to the dramatic work
that it supports. Finally, each entry is awarded a traditional MusicHound "bone" rating, from "5
Bones" (superb) to "Woof!" (a real dog). Five indexes make for easy cross-referencing.
Following the A to Z entries, MusicHound Soundtracks provides two sections on compilation
albums. The first covers compilations based on themes ("Great Epic Film Scores"), sub-genres
("British Film Music") and actors or directors ("Music from the Films of Astaire & Rogers"). The
second reviews composer compilations (Sondheim: Putting It Together"), of which there are
many. Also of interest are the book's two forewords, which offer insight into the two different
approaches to soundtracks. The first, by Lukas Kendall, editor of Film Score Monthly, explains
why "traditional" film music (music scored expressly for a film) is so unique and satisfying. The
second foreword, by Julia Michaels, former Director of Soundtracks at Capitol Records, takes us
on a "tour" of how a "pop song compilation" soundtrack (also referred to as a "songtrack") is
created. MusicHound Soundtracks was published in an earlier edition in 1997 under the
VideoHound® banner. This new edition is completely revised and expanded with 1,000 new
entries and the addition of 100 photographs. It has also been re-designed for easier use. Once
again, the compiling of this massive undertaking was brilliantly commandeered by Didier C.
Deutsch, one of the few practitioners in the business qualified to pull it off. Deutsh has no less than
65 soundtrack production credits to his name including West Side Story, The Bridge on the River
Kwai, and My Fair Lady. Deutsch wrote the bulk of the reviews in MusicHound's Soundtracks
himself, but compiled an impressive group of more than 15 other contributors to complete the
So whether your idea of a great soundtrack is the symphonic lushness of "Star Wars: The Phantom
Menace" or the collection of great songs that accompanied "City of Angels," MusicHound
Soundtracks will help you find what you want and will let you know if it is a worthwhile
Carl Orff's Carmina Burana
Carmina Burana is heard
everywhere (2001: A Space
Odyssey, Glory, Natural Born
Killers, The Doors), and with good
reason. This choral setting of Latin
lyrics by Composer Carl Orff
(1895-1982) is infectious, not to
mention powerful. Though Orff
wrote many other compositions, this
is the best, and the recording
conducted by Eugen Jochum is
nearly perfect. And, though you may
not realize it, many of these short
songs are quite funny ("When We
Are in the Tavern," "Once I Lived on
Sergei Rachmaninoff's Third Piano
Contrary to the deference it was
given in Shine, there are actually
many more difficult piano pieces than
Rachmaninoff's Third Piano
Concerto. That said, it's still a work
of exceptionally tough and energized
piano playing, demanding both
power and finger dexterity from the
musician and a supportive
symphony. the hands of Martha
Argerich (one of the world's great
living pianists), the composition takes
on even greater intensity.
Shostakovich The Film Album
Film music by Dmitri Shostakovich.
Richard Strauss's Also sprach
Richard Strauss (1864-1949) spent
most of his life creating some of the
greatest operas of all time (Elektra,
Salome, Der Rosenkavalier), but
this orchestral tone poem, used to
perfection in Stanley Kubrick's sci-fi
masterpiece 2001: A Space
Odyssey, is just as unforgettable.
Strauss wrote this epic work in
homage to philosopher Friederich
Nietzsche (who wrote a book of the
same name), and the atmospheric
scope of this work sounds like a
perfect contemplation of man's place
in the universe.
Many thanks to
Dearest for everything!