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Apologies for not reading the whole thread, but has anyone mentioned 'temp' tracks?
These are pieces of music known to the director that have the right weight and emotional content for a scene. The problem with temp tracks is that they get ingrained in the editor and directors subconscious over many days or weeks of editing, so when the composer is finally engaged, anything written that is markedly different is rejected and then put through a torturous revision process (at least as far as the composer is concerned) to bring the bespoke composition closer and closer to the temp. I personally can vouch for the hassle a temp track can wreak when trying to topple its hold on ears too familiar with its non-digetic or digetic effect. This revision process can extend right up to copyright barriers and sometimes one is forced to get so close legally speaking to the temp, that one has to seek out legal assurances or guarantees that the 'client' will take responsibility.
This has led to court more times than you might be aware of for example, Horner got too close to Britten's Sanctus from his War Requiem in 'Troy' and subsequently got into trouble with the Britten Foundation.

As for Williams, it is true that he is influenced by classical work (one thinks of the last mvt. of Hanson's Romantic Symphony in E.T.), but he is such a brilliant composer, that he can't help but imprint his own self onto any formulas he employs.
As a side note, his concert work is also rather good, a favourite of mine being the Cello Concerto.
 

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And.....
the string opening to Arnold Bax's Piano Quintet has definitely been used in film music, but I simply cannot recall where I have heard it. Any suggestions?

Nothing springs immediately to my mind Pat, although I note that the two opening chords a third apart are a staple progression in film music these days, especially in fantasy, sci-fi and mystery. Cliched to the max...
 

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I think you're probably right about the influence of temp tracks, especially when the producer/director knows something about music. Alfred Hitchcock was a big fan of classical music, did he ask Bernard Herman to make the main title theme to North by Northwest end like the 3rd movement of Elgar's 2nd Symphony? Herman was keen on English music, perhaps he quoted Elgar in homage.
I've had to go through the hassle temps cause many times in my career. In one case (the only one actually) I was coerced to get closer and closer to the temp despite my protestations. So much so that after an orchestral recording session at Abbey Road studios, it was decided my music was too close to the temp for legal reasons and not worth 'the risk' of broadcasting (yes I did say "I told you so" because I was quite angry about it, being classically trained, I knew it would be an issue).
Fortunately in this case, the production company picked up the initial recording bill so I re-wrote the music and after a second recording session, all went well.

A turn of events like this is all too familiar within media music and has spurned a nice side industry for musicologists over the years, especially ones familiar with copyright law. At times I have been inclined to submit demos that are not on brief, rather than face temp hassle and legal damnation. This tactic can actually work on occasion (but only rarely) because the demo will stand out from the crowd of other demos by other composers as being fresh and different.
 
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