Results 1 to 4 of 4

Thread: looking for a solo cello piece for film

  1. #1
    New Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Post Thanks / Like

    Question looking for a solo cello piece for film

    I've just stumbled across this amazing forum as I am looking for a certain cello piece -
    I'm a filmmaker and my latest film is in post production at the moment.
    Unfortunatly we have just learned that we are not able to afford the rights for a piece of music that would have been the perfect beginning of my film - however, as we will record a cello piece soon I am wondering if it wouldn't be great to also start with a cello piece!
    My knowledge of cello is though limited, I've looked through the Bach suits of course (the other piece we will record is suit no 6 in d ) but couldn't find anything that fits!
    May be somebody here has an idea what it could be? (It's important that the composer has been dead long enough for the piece to be in the public domain, so we can use it!)

    Here is the excerpt of the beginning, so you can get an idea what we are looking for!
    password: excerpt1

    Whoever has a winning idea can also get a credit in the film, if wanted
    In any case I'm thankful for every suggestion!! <3

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Post Thanks / Like


    Is the piece of music that you currently have on the film clip the one you were unable to use? that was "perfect" for the beginning of your film?

    If so, it has a nervous quality, and if that's what you're looking for, it would influence what I might suggest.

    If not, here's what comes to mind. I know that you've asked for a solo cello work (& feel free to skip to my solo recommendations below), but how about the Cello Sonata by Finish composer Joonas Kokkonen (who died in 1996--is that a problem?, as I don't know anything about domain rights...)?

    Here's an alternative interpretation that presents the music in a less romantic vein:

    I also find the music of French composer Charles Koechlin to be cinematic. Although his music might be too romantic for your film. Nevertheless, you might sample his Cello Sonata, and Sonata for Viola (or Alto), and Violin Sonata--despite that, again, they aren't strictly solo cello works:

    (Koechlin's Horn Sonata might be of interest too:
    or his Bassoon Sonata:
    or Trio for Flute, Clarinet, & Bassoon:

    I'd also suggest listening Claude Debussy's Cello Sonata:

    There's always Erik Satie too, whose music often gets used in films: Here's a cello transcription of one of his three Gymnopedies (it's actually for two cellos, which I thought was preferable to cello & piano): His 6 Gnossienne are worth hearing too, if you can find cello transcriptions of them:

    I don't think J.S. Bach's 6 Cello Suites are right for the images in your film--however, I do think that the juxtaposition of some classical piece might work well. With that in mind, I'd suggest the solo works of Monsieur de Saint-Columbe or his student Marin Marais: They were composed for a viola da gamba, which is a precursor of the modern cello. I'm not sure which piece to recommend, so you might have to listen to a bunch in order to find out which may be right for your film, or not:

    If you're open to more instruments, the following chamber piece by Albert Roussel has a somewhat nervous quality in the opening movement:

    In the same vein, Claude Debussy's Sonata for Viola, Harp & Flute is worth hearing:

    Otherwise, perhaps Debussy's Syrinx for solo flute, as played on a cello, might work?:

    Or on saxophone?:

    (However, I think Debussy knew what he was doing when he composed his Syrinx for a solo flute:

    The English composer Benjamin Britten also composed 3 Suites for Solo Cello (which he dedicated to cellist Mstislav Rostropovich). I don't know if these are what you're looking for or not:

    The problem is that there aren't that many solo cello pieces by composers of the past, unless they're transcriptions by others, which is common. For example, Bach's solo Violin Sonatas & Partitas have been performed on both a cello & viola. Perhaps others will have some more cello transcriptions to recommend to you.

    There are, however, a number of modern/contemporary composers that have written for solo cello, such as John Tavener, who passed away several years ago, and Krzysztopf Penderecki, who's a living composer (born in 1933); however, you might run into problems getting the rights to use their music:

    P.S. Oh yes, I forgot one: the Russian composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg (1919-1996) composed Sonatas for Solo Cello, maybe you can use one of these works:

    I hope one of my recommendations works out, & good luck. Let me know if you key on any one of the above composers as a strong possibility, yet can't find the right work, as I may be able to come up with further recommendations.
    Last edited by Josquin13; Oct-23-2018 at 01:36.

  3. #3
    New Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Post Thanks / Like


    Oh my god! Thank you so much!
    This is an amazing list of music, apart from everything; I'm gonna safe all these songs in my playlist <3

    However, I couldn't really find something fitting for the film yet - tbh the nervous, or more upbeat, tempo-ish quality is quite important for the mood it sets for the film; it get slow, dark and lonely real fast afterwards and needs a push before. (No worries, the Bach comes long after and resolves a bunch of feelings quite well with its baroc touch )

    I'm of course still listening through - I'm very intruiged by finding a Erik Satie piece that would fit, as my project works a lot with references to other films and this too could work as such - so far all I could find was too dreamy though...

    Basically the composer needs to be dead for at least 75 years - then the composition is in the public domain; none of the recordings anyways, which is why we are working with a cellist to record the pieces! Thus (and because of our limited to actually no budget) it has to be a solo cello piece...

    Is there any that are a bit up-beat?

    I'm intruiged also by from 14:31 - 16:51 - it's not entirely what I am looking for, but a general direction...may be...

    Thanks a lot, I really appreciate your knowledge and ideas on this!

  4. Likes Josquin13 liked this post
  5. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Post Thanks / Like


    "I'm very intrigued by finding a Erik Satie piece that would fit, as my project works a lot with references to other films and this too could work as such - so far all I could find was too dreamy though..."

    Actually, most of Satie's piano music isn't dreamy. He worked as pianist in a French music hall, so a lot of his solo piano music has an upbeat quality to it--such as "Je te veux", "Le Piccadilly", and "Poudre d'Or", for example:

    Although it's not his most best music, IMO. And again, it's all piano music--Satie didn't compose for the cello, so your cellist would have to transcribe it.

    His "Pieces froides" might interest you (as they're somewhere in between dreamy & upbeat):

    Embryons desseches is upbeat in parts--though I expect it would be difficult to transcribe to a cello:

    Or perhaps his Cinq Nocturnes:

    Or Avant-derniéres pensées:

    Or Le Perpetual Tango, from Satie's Sports et Divertissments: Here's the complete set:

    But there's three & a half hours of piano music to go through, if Satie interests you:

    You might also want to consider the solo piano music of Francis Poulenc. His piano work, Melancolie, is a favorite of mine, and could probably be transcribed to solo cello. Although it may not be upbeat enough for you:

    Two composers that I forgot about yesterday, who composed for the solo cello, are Max Reger and Zoltan Kodaly:

    "I'm intruiged also by from 14:31 - 16:51 - it's not entirely what I am looking for, but a general direction...may be..."

    The music of Schubert has been used very effectively in films, especially the solo piano music by Robert Bresson in his "Au Hasard Baltazaar", a favorite film of mine, and Louis Malle in "Au Revoir les Enfants"--both films worth watching, apart from how masterfully the two directors use music:

    Malle also uses the 4th movement from Brahms Horn Trio to great effect in Au Revoir les Enfants:

    (I've long thought that Schubert's beautiful Fantasia in F minor, for piano four hands would work well in a film:

    Speaking of Brahms, if Schubert interests you, you should also probably hear Brahms 2 Cello Sonatas:

    (Brahms composed two Viola Sonatas, as well:

    Beethoven also composed 5 Cello Sonatas, of which Nos. 3, 4, & 5 are considered his best:

    The Cello Sonatas of Baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi might be worthing listening to, as well:

    Frederic Chopin's piano works are often transcribed to solo cello, especially the Nocturnes (but also maybe the 24 Preludes?):

    (Chopin also wrote a cello sonata:

    But if you're looking for upbeat, you might want to reconsider the opening of Bach's 1st Cello Suite:

    Well, at this point you must be inundated with music, so I'll stop.

    Hope that helps.
    Last edited by Josquin13; Oct-23-2018 at 18:45.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts