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A Beginner's Guide to Classical Music

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A Beginner's Guide to Classical Music


Often people unfamiliar with Classical music will ask advice on how to approach it. Where do you start?

🎼

Frankly, many already are familiar with a lot of classical music.

Cartoons from the 1940s and 1950s are loaded with it.

And anyone who's a fan of theatrical films will have heard a great deal of it, even though they may not have realized it: For instance, 2001: A Space Odyssey used a great many classical pieces for its score. From the impressive opening of Richard Strauss' Also Spracht Zarasthustra, to Johann Strauss' The Blue Danube, the use of already composed works helped give the film the impact that made it so very successful.

Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange used Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

Apocalypse Now used Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries from his massive operatic suite Die Walk?re.

Even Ferris Bueller's Day Off used music from Boccerini's String Quintet in E.

So . . . I compiled a collection of some of the most compelling and accessible classical works for novice listeners.

Originally it was to be a Top Ten, which quickly grew into a Top 20, then a Top 25, and so on.

One of the problems with getting folks to come over to "the classical side" will be familiar to Prog Rock lovers . . . the length and complexity tends to just chase folks away.

CAUTION: This list is NOT really a "ranking", although works I feel are better are more likely to appear in a higher position. The list is more of an "ordering" to introduce the uninitiated to Classical Music, in a sequence that in my opinion is more likely to entice one "into the fold".

But the 1st piece is

The Planets
Gustav Holst, an 8 movement symphonic work that clocks in at well over a half hour.
1916


This piece is #2 on the Parker Symphony Orchestra's List of 10 BADASS PIECES OF CLASSICAL MUSIC. Here's THAT full list.

Orff - Carmina Burana / "O Fortuna" (#18)
Holst - The Planets, Mars (#1)
Verdi - Requiem "Dies Irae" (#79)
Wagner - Ride of the Valkyries (#31)
Vivaldi - The Four Seasons: Summer Mvt. 3 Presto (#6)
Bizet - Carmen Overture / Les Toreadors (#62)
Mussorgsky - Night on Bald Mountain (#19)
Verdi - Il Trovatore / "Anvil Chorus"
Khachaturian - Sabre Dance
Strauss - Also Sprach Zarathustra, Prelude (#24)


. . . and their "Honorable Mentions":

Tchaikovsky - 1812 Overture (#5)
Shostakovich - Symphony No 5, Mvt 4 (#153)
Bruckner - Symphony No 1, Mvt 3
Grieg - In The Hall Of The Mountain King (#11)
Dvorak - Symphony No 9, Mvt 4 (#2)
Mozart - Requiem in D minor, Dies Irae (#35)
Bizet - L'Arlésienne Suite No 2, Mvt 4 (Farandole)
Saint-Saëns - Symphony No 3, Mvt 3 and 4 (#408)
Beethoven - Symphony No 9, Mvt 4 (#39)
Glinka - Overture from Ruslan and Ludmilla (#231)
Holst - The Planets, Jupiter (#1)
Mozart - Symphony No 25, Mvt 1
Bach - Toccata and Fugue in D minor (#90)
Smyth - The Wreckers (Overture)


:)

Ah, but The Planets is a great look at orchestration and variety. And several film composers have used Holst's techniques to great success. John Williams has paid great tribute with his scores to Star Wars and others (he's pretty damned prolific).

Of course, the best way to experience Classical music is in a live setting. Unlike rock music, which sometimes suffers in concert, Classical music is exacting . . . it's important to the players and conductor that it be perfect. You won't find fall-down drunk singers or guitarists on acid here.

Here's a great and spirited live version by the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

This version also has a new movement, to include Pluto, discovered after the suite was written.

Mars, the Bringer of War 0:00
Venus, the Bringer of Peace 7:15
Mercury, the Winged Messenger 15:09
Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity 18:58
Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age 26:42
Uranus, the Magician 35:32
Neptune, the Mystic 41:20
Pluto, the Renewer 49:17

Proms 2016 - Gustav Holst - The Planets


.

This extensive work has popped up in popular music as well, especially the 1st movement.

Sinfonia, a large group of electric guitarists covered it, as did King Crimson (retitled "The Devil's Triangle"), and eventually, Emerson, Lake and Powell.

Jimmy Page adapted part of 'Mars' in the song 'Friends' on Led Zeppelin III.

Yes quoted a few sections of Jupiter in the song "The Prophet" from their 1970 album "Time and a Word".

Isao Tomita did an electronic version many years ago, and Jeff Wayne and Rick Wakeman teamed up as well in 2005 with an album Beyond the Planets.

Many artists, such as Frank Zappa, have "quoted" licks from the suite in instrumental sections of songs.

John Williams used the melodies and instrumentation of Mars as the inspiration for his soundtrack for the Star Wars films (specifically "The Imperial March")

Hans Zimmer closely used the melodies, instrumentation and orchestration of Mars as the inspiration for his soundtrack for the movie Gladiator to the extent that a lawsuit for copyright infringement was filed by the Holst foundation.

:(

In presenting this in serial form on a blog, there will be a continual problem with videos becoming "inactive". Due to the settings of Talk Classical, I cannot easily go back later and find an active link an simply insert it, as the editing feature becomes inert after a very short period of time. I'm not complaining, mind you, that's just the way it is.

Generally, the specific video I choose will be live, with decent sound and video. I'll usually give a title and artists (the players, conductor, name of the orchestra, etc), so if the link goes dead, one can generally search for it, or a replacement, fairly easily.

I think that being able to watch the performance adds to the enjoyment somehow. So most of these videos are live, even though there are often "better" (subjectively) recordings. "Better" sometimes just means that the studio recording has better production value, and no audience coughing during the quiet sections.

I welcome comments and suggestions. In general, given that this is a blog format, that is likely to happen anyway. Suggestions for entry-level Classical works will be met with bemusement, as it's very likely I'll already have that work on my list. But possibly not. As I mentioned, the list was started quite some time ago, and grew from humble beginnings to a completed list of 200 finished blurbs of specific works, to a projected list of over 600.

I've actually been compiling this on a different vblog, a band fanpage, but as the band and its fans age and leave (in some cases they "transition"), the membership has dropped drastically, and has been in danger of simply "closing shop" several times. The Admin there has moved to a smaller server after "dumping" a good portion of its archives, and is in the process of doing that again.

So, it's already put together for people to follow along and listen as I drop a post.
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441 - 460 of 465 Posts
214
Aproximações Áureas
Caio Facó

2016

30 year old Brazilian composer Caio Facó’s catalog of works begins in 2013. He earned his Masters from Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in 2018 and his PhD in 2022. He currently works as a Professor of Composition and Harmony at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte.

Being somewhat new to the music scene, his Youtube presence is slim, although you can find a great deal of his works on Soundcloud.

Aproximações Áureas (Golden Approximations) is written for large orchestra.

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FILM SCORES


The artistic merits of film music are frequently debated. Some critics value it highly, pointing to music such as that written by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Aaron Copland, Bernard Herrmann, John Williams, and many others.

Some consider film music to be a defining genre of classical music in the late 20th century, if only because it is the brand of classical music heard more often than any other. In some cases, film themes and scores have become accepted into the canon of Classical Music. These are mostly works from already noted composers who have done scores, but there are plenty of exceptions to this.

Others see the great bulk of film music as meritless. They consider that much film music is derivative, lacking in form, and borrowing heavily from previous works.

But it’s here, and cannot (and should not) be ignored.

Film scores have been around almost as long as feature length films, with records of a pianist accompanying films as early as 1895. As early as 1914 full scores were being sent with some films.

Though the number isn’t known, it has been estimated that there are approximately 500,000 movies (or, narrative fiction feature-length, theatrical-cinema films) currently in existence.

So where does one begin with exploring the Alt-Classical world of film scores? This is easier than one would expect in the Digital Age; many reputable organizations, including the American Film Institute (AFI), the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (The Oscars), the Recording Academy of the United States (The Grammys), and others, have cobbled together lists of notable film scores. And I’ve studied many of the scores, and many of the lists, and am prepared to offer my own list of noteworthy film scores.

I’m also aware that presenting Suites, or Themes, or Overtures (common in older films) from a film score is a bastardization of the full score, but presenting a full score also has some serious drawbacks as well. And these Suites for films can vary greatly in terms of time; so, "tough," that’s the way it goes.

In fact, there may be more than one suite from which to choose; e.g. the first film I've highlighted has a choice between Suites of 10, 14, 20 and 30 minutes. And some film’s most engaging moments may be neither Theme nor Overture, such as the Shower scene from Psycho, or the Cantina band from Star Wars.

So it is what it is. Enjoy.


∏ ∏ ∏ ∏ ∏ ∏ ∏​


215
Citizen Kane
Bernard Herrmann

1941

Citizen Kane
was Bernard Herrmann’s first film score, and established Herrmann as an important new composer of film soundtracks. Herrmann formatted his score much like he did with radio shows (he’d worked with director Orson Welles previously in radio), notably short snippets of music to link scenes. His arrangements differed however, in that he discovered that he was free to hire combinations of musicians to service the score rather than molding his music to suit some pre-existing ensemble.

For example, this meant that he was free to score his opening sequence to include a trio of alto flutes.

His score was respected and admired enough to earn him an Oscar nomination for Best Score of a Dramatic Picture (one of eight nominations for the film) [NB: Scores for Musicals were a separate category]. Ironically, Herrmann DID win the Best Score Oscar, but for a different film, the now obscure All That Money Can Buy, a fantasy based on the story The Devil and Daniel Webster. It should be noted that in 1941 every film studio could submit a film score, so the field that year was 20 deep.

Hermann would later be known for his collaborations with director Alfred Hitchcock on such films as Psycho, North By Northwest, Vertigo, and The Man Who Knew Too Much. After his 'breakup' with Hitch, Herrmann would go on to score a series of notable mythically themed fantasy films, including several films for noted stop-motion master Ray Harryhausen.

But Citizen Kane’s score is a masterpiece. Hermann weaves together a myriad of different techniques and styles, from waltzes to ragtime, even including an aria from a fictional opera. He also concentrated more on evoking mood rather than simply commenting loudly on the screen action as if it were simply a sound effect. Hermann's score also punctuated the onscreen action to create an interplay between the visuals and the background music that was unlike anything else at the time.

Here’s the short Overture from Citizen Kane, played by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. I’m surprised at the influences I can hear in this short edit from the score; everything from Gershwin to Victor Herbert and Aaron Copland.

Whose influences do YOU hear here?



This next scene is quite memorable, and the restraint Herrmann shows in NOT underscoring it was actually fairly progressive at the time. Silence can speak far clearer at times. “Observe the rests,” I often tell the students in the choirs I accompany. Those silences are as important as the music, indeed, they are an important part of the music. In the case of this scene, the absence of music serves the scene far better than some violent musical jumble that mimics the pointless violence.



This ten minute Suite from the film starts with the Prelude I alluded to earlier, as well as the sumptuous and transcendent Aria from the film's fictional opera, Salammbô.



Finally, a 30 minute Suite, suitably titled “Prelude / The Inquirer (Polka) / Finale / End Cast (from Citizen Kane)”.

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216
Ben-Hur
Miklós Rózsa

1959

Miklós Rózsa
Is one of the handful of film composers that led a double life compositionally, maintaining a steadfast allegiance to absolute concert music even while being responsible for scores for nearly a hundred films.


Rósza received 17 Academy Award nominations over his lifetime, and was awarded Oscars for three films, including Ben-Hur, widely considered to be Rózsa's cinemusical masterpiece, and is one of the longest film scores ever composed (over three hours were recorded, with well over two hours of it used in the film), a record held until 2021. In fact, the score was so lengthy that it had to be released in 1959 on three LPs.

Rósza himself arranged a Ben-Hur Suite to provide a more “listenable” album, which was also released in 1959.

Its intricate Wagnerian web of leitmotifs has received extensive study.

The film was Hollywood's greatest success since Gone with the Wind, and Rózsa's Academy Award was one of its record total of eleven (when there were only 12 categories). The "Parade of the Charioteers" became popular with bands across the country.

This is an exemplary example of a score that complements the film perfectly, yet can stand alone without it.

Here’s four selections, starting with Rósza conducting the Ben-Hur Suite, which begins with a two minute edit of the seven minute Overture.



Next up is the aforementioned Parade of the Charioteers. This is a four minute re-recording with Rósza conducting the National Philharmonic Orchestra in 1977.



Next is the seven minute “Love Theme” appropriately titled Judah meets Esther / Love Scene.



Decades ago films would often have Overtures (and sometimes an Entr’acte), especially the epic films being produced then. Here’s the original Overture from the Motion Picture soundtrack.

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217
Vertigo
Bernard Herrmann

1958

I previously posted Herrmann’s 1941 score for Citizen Kane, and here we are 17 years later with yet another, this time from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

Herrmann had an excellent working relationship with Hitchcock for many years, scoring seven of his films, starting in 1955 with The Trouble with Harry, and continuing with The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Wrong Man, Vertigo, North By Northwest, Psycho, and finally Marnie in 1964.

Herrmann composed a score for Hitchcock’s 1966 Torn Curtain, which was rejected, as he’d been asked to provide a pop-and-jazz-influenced soundtrack. Surprisingly, Hermann’s unused score for Torn Curtain has proved to be more popular than the John Addison score that was ultimately used.

But it’s funny; during the decade Herrmann worked with Hitchcock, and seemingly connected at the hip with him, Herrmann produced many other excellent scores for other films: The Man In the Gray Flannel Suit, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Journey To the Center of the Earth, Mysterious Island, Cape Fear, Jason and the Argonauts, and Farenheit 451

Director Martin Scorsese (for whom Herrmann composed his last score, Taxi Driver in 1976) described the qualities of Herrmann's famous score:

“Hitchcock's film is about obsession,
which means that it's about circling back to the same moment, again and again ...
And the music is also built around spirals and circles, fulfilment and despair.
Herrmann really understood what Hitchcock was going for —
he wanted to penetrate to the heart of obsession.”

Here’s the “Main Theme” from Vertigo, played by the The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra:



Here’s the Vertigo Concert Suite, conducted by Herrmann (he actually didn’t conduct the soundtrack score, as the musicians in Los Angeles were on strike at the time, forcing the score to be recorded overseas).



And a couple of the tracks, “Farewell and the Tower” and “The Nightmare and Dawn” from a couple of the film’s most famous scenes. The Farewell has a distinct Tchaikovsky vibe to it, until it reaches the Tower portion, at which point you can clearly hear the genius of Herrmann as he transitions to an uneasy and unsettling evolution to Modernism. The Nightmare is clearly a bit more post-Romantic, even Modern; I can clearly hear his influence on the scores of John Williams.



I’d have loved to included The Necklace, the Return and Finale, but I think the music from Scene D’amour has a bit more relevance in terms of influence and being influenced. Hermann borrows from Wagner's "Liebestod (Love-Death)” romantic theme from Tristan und Isolde for the leitmotif in "Scene d'amour". In Herrmann’s deft hands the theme becomes mysterious, mesmerizing, and tragic.

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FILM SCORES

215
Citizen Kane
Bernard Herrmann

1941


216

Ben-Hur
Miklós Rózsa

1959


217

Vertigo
Bernard Herrmann

1958
This series of three was particularly well done and one of the best segments within the thread - Three posts which said more than a hundred plus pages and thousands of posts ever could.
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218
To Kill a Mockingbird
Elmer Bernstein

1962


Elmer
Bernstein’s score for To Kill a Mockingbird is regarded as one of the greatest film scores of all time. His score won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Oscar.

Of course, I had to make a judgement call here: I think I enjoy his 1960 score for The Magnificent Seven a great deal more than To Kill A Mockingbird.

But, in contrast to the The Magnificent Seven’s majestic sound, Bernstein's score for To Kill a Mockingbird is appropriately subtle and nuanced, with most tracks featuring delicate woodwind and string passages.

But listen to this Suite of music from the film, and tell me it isn’t beautiful.

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219
King Kong
Max Steiner

1933

You knew it was coming.

A landmark in film scoring, Steiner used Wagnerian leitmotifs, and earned him his first Academy Award for Best Scoring.

"King Kong" Soundtrack Suite

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Continuing to knock them right out of the park and again, saying more with sentences than others have with pages...(y)
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219
King Kong
Max Steiner

1933

You knew it was coming.

A landmark in film scoring, Steiner used Wagnerian leitmotifs, and earned him his first Academy Award for Best Scoring.

These film music segments are strong enough to merit a thread of their own - Something like "A Listener's Guide to Film Music" - Being an impassioned advocate who can avoid being an insufferable apologist - and who writes with genuine - yet unfailingly clear-eyed - appreciation of the art form while managing to studiously avoid advancing a transparently biased agenda - is a rare trick to pull off and, as is readily apparent elsewhere, a trick that is indeed so rare that it is seldom, if ever, successfully pulled off.

If this "Beginner's Guide to Classical Music" ever seems to reach a point in which you feel as if you've said all that needs to be said, give some thought to doing an equivalent film series. There are times when the "Talk" in "Talkclassical" is far more of a detriment than a benefit... "Show and Tell" one post after another rather than an seemingly endless series of "Replies and Responses" stretching off into infinity...
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These film music segments are strong enough to merit a thread of their own - Something like "A Listener's Guide to Film Music" - Being an impassioned advocate who can avoid being an insufferable apologist - and who writes with genuine - yet unfailingly clear-eyed - appreciation of the art form while managing to studiously avoid advancing a transparently biased agenda - is a rare trick to pull off and, and is readily apparent elsewhere, a trick that is indeed so rare that it is seldom, if ever, successfully pulled off.

If this "Beginner's Guide to Classical Music" ever seems to reach a point in which you feel as if you've said all that needs to be said, give some thought to doing an equivalent film series. There are times when the "Talk" in "Talkclassical" is far more of a detriment than a benefit... "Show and Tell" one post after another rather than an seemingly endless series of "Replies and Responses" stretching off into infinity...
Yes, I probably could.

I have "a list" of every significant film score, as well as which scores snagged Oscar nominations, all the way back to 1907, with Edgar Stillman Kelley's score for the FIRST Ben Hur, and 1908 for Camille Saint-Saens' for The Assassination of the Duke of Guise.

Of course, The Beginners Guide is only up to 219 here, and I've got a list of at least 600. Even then I'll be neglecting to include someone's favorite harmonica concerto, or something else.

Film scores are funny though. They've gone through a significant evolution since the early days of being background music, to what you hear these days. And my knowledge of Video Game scores is limited. Some film scores simply aren't available apart from the film.

As for King Kong however, I did think it was interesting that portions of Steiner's score were completed in advance, and the director King Vidor actually filmed some scenes to match the score. In one scene in the film bad guy is walking in an unnatural way in an attempt to match the unnatural rhythm of the score. Fast forward to today when Spielberg would occasionally do the same with portions of a John Williams score.

But aside from some films that actually appropriated Classical Music for use as part of the score, King Kong is the one where you can draw that boundary where film music and Classical Music became one, at least temporarily for a singular film. It changed how film composers composed.
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Not surprisingly, but I'd already made a post two years ago about the score for King Kong by Max Steiner in my other, less active, thread Film Score of the Day.

King Kong
Max Steiner
1933

Wikipedia
: "King Kong's score was the first feature-length musical score written for an American "talkie" film, the first major Hollywood film to have a thematic score rather than background music, the first to mark the use of a 46-piece orchestra, and the first to be recorded on three separate tracks."

"For budgetary reasons, RKO decided not to have an original film score composed, instead instructing composer Max Steiner to simply reuse music from other films. [Producer Merian] Cooper thought the film deserved an original score and paid Steiner $50,000 to compose it. Steiner completed the score in six weeks and recorded it with a 46-piece orchestra. The studio later reimbursed Cooper. The score was unlike any that came before and marked a significant change in the history of film music."


Fun Fact: $50,000 in 1933 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $1,000,880.77 today.

Steiner used the concepts of leitmotifs from opera, musical theatre, silent film scoring, and the blurring of digetic and non-digetic scoring.

First the 'Opening Overture, Main Titles Analysis, & Finale''




:D

And the Full Official Soundtrack:


0:00 - 3:43 Main Title (A Boat In the Fog)
3:43 - 8:41 Forgotten Island (Jungle Dance)
8:41 - 11:12 Sea At Night
11:12 - 15:14 Aboriginal Sacrifice Dance
15:14 - 19:35 Entrance of Kong
19:35 - 24:08 The Bronte (Log Sequence)
24:08 - 26:00 Cryptic Shadows
26:00 - 35:36 Kong (The Cave)
35:36 - 37:12 Sailors Waiting
37:12 - 41:22 Return of Kong
41:22 - 42:56 King Kong Theatre March
42:56 - 47:35 Finale (Kong Escapes / Aeroplanes)

:eek:

And a related video of note: Percussionist Dave Roth wears a GoPro during a LIVE performance of King Kong on Broadway at the Broadway Theatre in New York City so you can get the feel of what it is like to sit in the chair of a musical theater percussionist. I find it captivating that Dave is watching the conductor on a CCTV feed, as they've kept him isolated so the percussion doesn't bleed all over the sound of the other live instruments.

This is the percussion part for Skull Island

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Some notable film scores, if that's your bag.


Film Score of the Day
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Gotcha. Sometimes "Fail" is merely comparing one's works with one's other works. For instance, there are many undervalued Beatles songs because such a great many of their songs are simply wondrous. But some of the Beatles' throwaways have become gold in the hands of other artists. Some of their neglected songs might have been Top Ten Hits had they been released by some unknown band.
Yep. For example, Paul McCartney didn't think this song was strong enough for the Beatles, so he gave it to his girlfriend's brother Peter, and the brother had a #1 hit with it.
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King Kong
Max Steiner
1933
And in a later post I added this:



There's a lot to be said about Steiner's score for King Kong.

Utilizing Wagner's leitmotiv system of assigning a theme for all of the main characters and events and using them developmentally in a symphonic fashion allowed Steiner to craft a film score which was both musically dramatic and story enhancing.

Noted film composer Danny Elfman says "I think it is important to remember that when Steiner set down to score King Kong there were almost no references. He was practically starting from a clean slate - uncharted territory. So many things that Steiner did we take for granted now that the language has been defined. Steiner really is the granddaddy of this wonderful art form."
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215 Bernard Herrmann Citizen Kane (1941)
216 Miklos Rozsa Ben-Hur (1959)
217 Bernard Herrmann Vertigo (1958)
218 Elmer Bernstein To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
219 Max Steiner King Kong (1933)


So . . . yeah . . . Film Scores are the nazz. Are they “Classical Music”? Sometimes, sometimes not. Does it really matter all that much? They are significant in terms of being an offshoot, an illegitimate dastard child of the Romantic and Post-Romantic eras of Classical Music.

So I’ve got several more Film Scores up my sleeve: Then it’ll be back to the regularly scheduled programming.



220
The Adventures of Robin Hood
Erich Wolfgang Korngold

1938


Max Steiner
wasn’t the only composer looking to Wagner for film score inspiration. But Korngold was perhaps the first composer of international stature to write Hollywood scores.

Korngold was already established in the Classical world; a child prodigy who became a professor of music at the Vienna State Academy by his early thirties. But the political climate in next-door Germany prompted him to move to Hollywood in 1934.

He scored his second Oscar for The Adventures of Robin Hood in 1938.

Film historian Rudy Behlmer put it this way: “Korngold's score was a splendid added dimension. His style for the Flynn swashbucklers resembled that of the creators of late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century German symphonic tone poems. It incorporated chromatic harmonies, lush instrumental effects, passionate climaxes—all performed in a generally romantic manner. Korngold's original and distinctive style was influenced by the Wagnerian leitmotif the orchestral virtuosity of Richard Strauss, the delicacy and broad melodic sweep of Puccini, and the long-line development of Gustav Mahler.”

🔷

As with the previous Steiner score for King Kong, I’d previously gone over some details for The Adventures of Robin Hood in the Film Score of the Day thread, which I’ll copy ‘n’ paste here:

Speaking of "Adventures", it's time to visit Erich Korngold's The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).

First off, let's call this score (and Korngold's 1940 score for The Sea Hawk) a major influence of John Williams (see how I tied that in?).

Here's the Soundtrack "Suite" from The Adventures of Robin Hood. You can better hear the influences on Williams though in Korngold's Sea Hawk.



There's a lot of reasons this score is great, but here's a mini-documentary (<20minutes) that is far more informative than it ought to be. This guy really talks fast.

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221
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Ennio Morricone
1966

Probably best known musically for its Main Title Theme (which became a hit that year, as was the soundtrack album), wherein Morricone uses a two-note melody as a motif resembling the howling of a coyote. That motif is used for the three main characters: Blondie (or The Man With No Name) [The Good], Angel Eyes [The Bad], and Tuco [The Ugly], with a different instrument used for each one: Respectively flute, ocarina (arghilofono), and human voices.

Here’s that Main Theme (Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo)


.

Morricone had worked with director Sergio Leone previously, but the two chose to work differently for this film, the third in the Dollars trilogy.

Instead of scoring the film in the post-production stage, they decided to work on the themes together before shooting had begun, so that the music helped inspire the film instead of the film inspiring the music. Leone even played the music on set and coordinated camera movements to match the music.

Morricone also used yodeling, whistling, and guitar.

Here’s the tracks The Ecstasy of Gold and The Trio, which are heard during the film’s climax, the Mexican stand-off.


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222
Lawrence of Arabia
Maurice Jarre
1962


In 1962 Maurice Jarre was barely known, and was not the first choice to compose the score. The Producer wanted a score with two themes, to show the Eastern and British sides, and wanted Aram Khachaturian AND Benjamin Britten to write the score. First choices William Walton and Malcom Arnold were unavailable, and Jarre was given just six weeks to compose two hours of orchestral music.

Jarre’s score earned him his first Academy Award for Music Score – Substantially Original. He would go on to earn nine nominations for his film scores, and winning two more Oscars. Incidentally, he was nominated for two different films in 1962, the other being Sundays and Cybele. In fact, he'd written scores for eight films released in 1962, including The Longest Day.

His second Oscar was for the score for the 1965 film Doctor Zhivago. He also provided the score for Alfred Hitchcock’s last film Topaz

The American Film Institute (AFI) ranks it number three on its Top Twenty-five Film Scores

Soundtrack Suite


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223
The Magnificent Seven
Elmer Bernstein

1960


You’ll definitely recognize the Main Theme, and perhaps the brief nod to Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra.

The score was nominated for an Oscar, but lost to Exodus by Andrew Gold.

Soundtrack Suite

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224
Around the World in 80 Days
Victor Young
1956

Veteran Hollywood composer Victor Young died of a cerebral homorrhage at age 56 on November 11, 1956, three-and-a-half weeks after the premiere of Around the World in 80 Days, one of the last of hundreds of movies for which he wrote music.

The film won five Oscars, including one for Best Picture, and one for Young for this soundtrack. Of course, his Oscar win may have been influenced by his recent death, and the fact that he’d never won before, despite 21 previous nominations (including Gulliver’s Travels, Dark Command, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and Samson and Delilah).

The composition of the soundtrack was probably a slam dunk for someone with Young’s compositional skills, as the premise of the film was basically a travelogue of wonderful far off lands, continents, and locales from which he could write musical clichés based on stereotypes of the local music.

The soundtrack became a # 1 hit album, bolstered by the film’s Theme Song being sung by some of the most popular artists of the day, and was a hit for Bing Crosby (although both Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra sang it better). Although the lyrics were written by Harold Adamson after the film’s release, the orchestral soundtrack version itself reached # 13 on the charts. Oddly enough, Crosby’s version was on the B-Side of the orchestral single.

Here's the 15 minute Soundtrack Suite, and the hit song from Bing Crosby.


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The Mission
Ennio Morricone
1986


Whenever there’s a discussion about film scores, The Mission seems to be mentioned more than any other score.

Not surprisingly, the score was nominated for an Oscar (it lost to Herbie Hancock’s score for Round Midnight, which won despite also being up against James Horner’s score for Aliens, and Jerry Goldsmith’s score for Hoosiers), but won at the Golden Globes and BAFTA Awards.

Morricone composed, orchestrated, conducted and produced the soundtrack.

The work combines liturgical chorales, native drumming, and Spanish-influenced guitars, often in the same track, in an attempt to capture the varying cultures depicted in the film.

Here is the Soundtrack Suite from the film




Two of the themes have become well loved, that of Gabriel’s Oboe, and Falls. Falls is conducted by Morricone in 2017.


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