A Look at Classical Music in the Movies

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For nearly 80 years, movie patrons have been exposed to orchestral music custom-tailored to fit the films themselves.  But in some cases, a director’s infatuation with pre-existing classical repertoire has yielded some rather interesting and unconventional results.  Film editors will often cut films together with the musical aid of Stravinsky, Beethoven, Wagner, and many others.  In fact, George Lucas had intended to use strictly classical music for Star Wars, until John Williams stepped in and provided his own Academy Award winning original score – a work that embodies the heavy influence of Holst and his Planets Suite.  Sometimes a director will simply fall in love with a temp track, and abandon plans for an original score altogether (Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey anyone?).  Others find ingenious ways to employ classical works as a reoccurring motif – consider Blake Edwards’ use of Ravel’s Bolero as a sort of prelude to Daryl Hannah’s romantic conquests in the steamy comedyTen. Many of these classical composers have lent their talents to opera, appropriately enough, seeing as how this art form is a distant cousin of the motion picture.  Speaking of great opera composers, who could forget how Richard Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries added ironic poignancy to Francis Ford Coppola’s Viet Nam epic, Apocalypse Now?  Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture helped put considerable oomph in the climatic revolution ofV For Vendetta, and Woody Allen’s love of Gershwin and his Rhapsody in Blue helped to illuminate the skyline of Manhattan.  While it’s true that many of these composers are currently decomposing, their music lives on in the magic of the movies. Click the classic composer or click here.

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