Symphonic Dances Opus 64 Edvard Grieg
Written by Tim Lihoreau, Classic FM
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"As unlikely as it seems, this classic theme that simply oozes Martini (shaken not stirred) started life courtesy of the writer VS Naipaul. Monty Norman had spent a few weeks on the set of Dr No in Jamaica (with Sean Connery, et al.) trying to absorb the atmosphere of the spy movie, but it was only when he reached into his bottom drawer, back home later in England, that he found the right 'sound' for James Bond. And it was in the form of a song "Bad Sign, Good Sign" written originally for the musical of the Naipaul book, 'A House for Mr Biswas'. He dusted it down, spruced it up, tweaked it a little and, hey presto - a tune originally meant for an East Indian with an unbecoming sneeze...became the epitome of the dapper, English secret agent. Marvellous."
Gladiator - Earth
Hans Zimmer works in much the same way as Michelangelo. That's not to say, on his back staring at the ceiling. It means he sometimes operates a type of collegiate system of writing music, whereby he will employ several composers to work in groups on certain movies, all the time retaining the overall control. Zimmer himself had his first hit with Rain Man - nominated for an Oscar in 1988. Gladiator uses a simple but great tune throughout and, as a result, joins the ranks of those movies for which the music is a vital part of its success.
How big is Harry Potter? About 5 feet 5 and a half inches, to be precise, if you look at Daniel Radcliffe. If you do a Google test, though and simple type his name in, you get 43 million results. That's compared to 6 million for Elvis, 13 million for Einstein and 17.5 million for Marilyn Monroe. Amazing. Hedwig is a snowy owl, given to Harry by Hagrid, and acts as a sort of courier, passing messages back and forth to Harry. I'm sure you knew that. Maybe you didn't know, though, that J.K Rowling named the owl after Saint Hedwig, patron saint of orphans and abandoned children.
Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves - Overture
Michael Kamen's sudden death from heart attack at the age of 55 in 2003 deprived the movie world of one of its most individual and compelling composers. The founder of the legendary New York Rock Ensemble scored the music for so many films, it's difficult to know where to start (X-Men, the DieHard series, Mr Holland's Opus, etc).
This one, though - well, it's the close the curtains and snuggle-down with the kids with par-burned homemade popcorn, bank holiday movie par excellence.
Batman - Theme
The artists formerly known as the artists formally known as Prince provided the songs for this movie but it was Danny Elfman's menacing orchestral score which swept the dark film along to its shadowy conclusion. Elfman is now considered a true master of movie orchestrating - a remarkable feat for someone who started his celluloid sound career with a group called The Mystic Knights of Oingo-Boingo. Imagining them coming in your Music GCSE: "The Mystic Knights of Oingo-Boingo - forerunners of the Arctic Monkeys: Discuss. Not more than 2000 words."
Ladies in Lavender
On most soundtracks, there is usually at least one "Silly Name Track" - a track with a name which says, well, this won't be the hit track in the movies, so, yes, we can allow the composer to call it something daft - and it will make people who have scene the movie smile and say "Oh, I remember that bit..." In Calendar Girls, for example, there is the memorable "Bras Off". Ladies in Lavender has Potatoes, which will make anyone who has seen the movies smile. This is the theme, simple and beautiful, by Nigel Hess.
Jurassic Park - Theme
John "It'll be ready Tuesday" Williams came up with one of his most fitting scores when he set the dinosaurs to music. The minute this theme was sounded in 1992, it sounded like it had been around for years; instantly an old friend. It has majesty, somehow, written into the score.
Love Actually - Glasgow Theme
Craig Armstrong - new name? If so, then try the soundtracks to The Bone Collector, Romeo and Juliet - his big hit, so far - and even Moulin Rouge, for which he did some of the arrangements. This, though, was his first time composing on a romantic comedy - or RomCom as they are supposedly known in the trade - and he comes up with this trademark, halo-glow piano piece. Glasgow is his home town, too, so there should be some in-built affection in this tune.
Dangerous Moonlight - Warsaw Concerto
If the Warsaw Concerto appears Rachmaninovesque, that's because it was deigned to be. The RKO studios had nearly finished the shooting of Dangerous Moonlight when they approached Rachmaninov himself for permission to use his Piano Concert No.2. When the six foot Russian scowl refused, they hastily approached British composer Richard Addinsell to stump up something in the master's style. Cue a much-loved hit. Not everyone has loved it, though, as anyone who's read Spike Milligan's memoirs will know. Incidentally, Addinsell also composed the start up fanfare for the old TV company, Associated Rediffusion.
Schindler's List - Theme
There are people who don't like chocolate. There are people who don't like wine. There are also people who knock John Williams. Hard to believe but true. For some, his staggering ability to turn a tune that captures the essence of its movie is seen as some form of handicap and some even accuse him of being a musical magpie. This is, or course, nonsense. Schindler's List is another great example of William's ability to set a film in the most perfectly sympathetic landscape, producing, yet again, music that stands up on its own when the film is taken away.
Henvy V - Touch Her Soft Lips And Part
Considering Kenneth Branagh directed this "gritty" version of Shakespeare's Henry V and also took the lead role, as well as adapting the bard for the screenplay, it might surprise that he didn't take a shot at writing the score too. Instead, he turned to the music director in his Rennaisance Theatre Company, Glasgow-born Patrick Doyle. And good job he did. This short but sweet morsel is simply gorgeous.
The Dam Busters - March
Instructions for listening to this track. Extend the last three fingers of each hand. Place them at the base of each cheek. Raise the hands, backwards, into the air, before curling the thumb and index finger to meet in a circle around the eye.
Now, turn on The Dam Busters March and enjoy.
The Godfather - Parla Piu Piano
Performed by Jonathan Ansell
Nino Rota (bon Nini Rota Rinaldi, would you believe) is so much a legend of Italian film music (working with directors like Fellini, Visconti and Zeffirelli) that it's often easy to overlook the fact that he was also a legend of just Italian music, in general. He wrote many operas and ballets and held the job of director of the Bari Conservatoire for a good 29 years. And isn't the Italian language beautiful. Only Italian could fashion "Parla piu piano" out of ostensibly "Shhhh!"