The Katherine Jenkins Collection – At the Movies
Katherine Jenkins explores the magical world of movie music.
1. John Williams: Star Wars (1977)
Movie composers by definition have to be accomplished and skilled masters of their craft, and many great classical composers of the 20th century also wrote music for the cinema. ‘I like to think that if Beethoven or Mozart were alive today they’d probably be commissioned to write for films,’ says Katherine, ‘as they were in their own time for the theatre or for the church. Maybe even they’d write scores for video games!’ John Williams is undoubtedly the consummate modern master of movie music. Where better to start than a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away?
2. John Williams: Saving Private Ryan (1998) - Hymn to the Fallen
It’s really hard to convey the brilliance of John Williams and his achievements. ‘Which other piece should I choose from such a wide-ranging career,’ says Katherine, ‘the ominous Duh-duh of Jaws? The rollicking Raiders of the Lost Ark? Or the more recent pastoral mood of War Horse? So many to choose from. One of my favourites, though, is this deeply moving anthem from the closing credits of Saving Private Ryan.’
3. Max Steiner: Gone With the Wind (1939)
The Austrian Max Steiner was a child prodigy who studied under Brahms and Mahler no less, and was the godson of Richard Strauss. Steiner moved to Hollywood in 1929 where he became known as the Father of Film Music. ‘He was Oscar-nominated a mere 24 times but who’s counting?’ says Katherine. ‘And the film score for which he is best known is this one.’ In addition to writing Gone with the Wind, Steiner composed 11 other movie scores in 1939 alone, but unfortunately for him, the Oscar that year went to another film altogether – The Wizard of Oz.
4. Richard Addinsell: Dangerous Moonlight (1941) - Warsaw Concerto
In 1941, when British filmmakers were making a wartime drama about a shell-shocked piano virtuoso, they approached none other than the great Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninov to write a special piece for the film - but he refused. ‘His loss I think,’ says Katherine, ‘because instead they turned to a British stage composer who had dropped out of the Royal College of Music after just two terms. His name was Richard Addinsell and his Warsaw Concerto went on to sell more than three million copies.’
5. Nigel Hess: Ladies in Lavender (2004)
The Warsaw Concerto is one of those pieces that has outlived the film it came from and gone on to be a classic in its own right in the concert hall and on record. The same has happened with Ladies in Lavender, made in 2004. ‘It’s a very sweet film,’ says Katherine, ‘about a gifted young Polish violinist sailing to America who’s swept overboard and found by two sisters in Cornwall who nurse him back to health. Judi Dench and Maggie Smith are marvelous as always as the sisters and the music by Nigel Hess has become one of my favourites.’
6. Elmer Bernstein: The Magnificent Seven (1960)
One of the most thrilling of all movie themes, this actually wasn’t a huge hit when the film was first released but it was later taken up for cigarette commercials and covered by other artists so often that Elmer Bernstein need never have written another note of music!
7. John Barry: Out Of Africa (1985)
John Barry is the genius composer who gave the early James Bond movies their distinctive musical language. He then went onto become one of the most celebrated film composers of modern times, winning five Academy Awards and four Grammys for such memorable scores as Midnight Cowboy, Dances With Wolves as well as for Out Of Africa. This theme has become a concert hall favourite.
8. Klaus Badelt: Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)
One contemporary composer who has contributed a lot to the sound of film music today is the German Klaus Badelt who worked on such films as Gladiator, X-Men and Mission Impossible 2. ‘But it was in 2003 with his music for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl that Klaus Badelt really made a name for himself and made me sit up and listen,’ says Katherine.
9. Howard Shore: The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003)
Perhaps no other film score has captured the public imagination in the past decade or so as much as the Canadian Howard Shore’s music for The Lord of the Rings series. ‘It’s an epic achievement,’ says Katherine. ‘He wrote hours and hours of it – and something like ten hours has been released on disc.’ Shore went about his enormous task in almost Wagnerian manner – conjuring up some 90 different themes or motifs for all the different characters, places and cultures.