On Air Now
Smooth Classics with Margherita Taylor 10pm - 1am
27 August 2020, 16:50 | Updated: 27 August 2020, 17:21
We’ve partnered with Radio Times to find out what the nation’s favourite movie music is – but what are our presenters picking?
Voting has now closed in The Classic FM Hall of Fame in partnership with Radio Times and we can’t wait to find out what Classic FM listeners and Radio Times readers have picked. But we’re intrigued: what film music would Classic FM presenters have gone for?
Initially E.T. passed me by and I remember feeling like the boat had sailed after it had been on release for a few weeks. I had it in mind that it was a film for little ones and not one for the slightly more mature individual. A friend then persuaded me to give it a whirl – they’d seen it twice already.
Chum: “You’ll cry, I guarantee it”.
Me: “I won’t”.
I did. Of course. Think I hid it well though. The music, that soaring, joyful, life-affirming music takes you to goose bump central. E.T. won the Academy Award and a Grammy for composer John Williams, who must have the biggest mantelpiece in the universe. No wonder he and Spielberg have worked on so many movies through the years. What a partnership.
There are still tears whenever I catch E.T. even after all these years.
I’ve gone for the movie theme that was sold as having ‘the happiest sound in all the world’ and the highest grossing film of 1965.
It was one of the first films I saw as a small child and was totally bowled over by Richard Rodgers’ magical music. The story, acting, tunes and breath-taking backdrop of Salzburg make it perfect. Little did I know as a small child that one day in the future I would get to sing the song Edelweiss from the film with the leading lady Julie Andrews.
It was most definitely ‘something good’!
There is something about the opening theme that speaks to the kid in all of us. The first few bars are so powerful and iconic. Immediately, you’re hooked. It’s time to sit back and relax – the adventure is about to start.
It is incredible that across different generations, the music means exactly the same and is part of the reason that so many people have fallen in love with the Star Wars journey, as it’s continued over the decades. I also think the soundtrack is a great way of introducing children to the power of a full orchestra and the positive impact that classical music can have on your life.
One of my abiding memories as an eight-year-old child was standing in a very, very long queue to see The Empire Strikes Back. It was the movie that everyone – including all my school mates – wanted to see that year.
Ironically, my favourite movie theme is from a film I haven’t actually seen – the 2017 version of Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson, and the overture by Alan Menken. It contains all the great Broadway songs from the original 1991 Disney cartoon, with an ending that never fails to bring a tear to my eye!
I used to watch the first Disney Beast with my kids when they were little, over and over again. We used to sing along to ‘Be My Guest’ and particularly Gaston. Happy days.
I was lucky enough to interview Hans Zimmer at the piano and play through the multiple themes he composed for Gladiator. It’s all so clever. Many composers choose one, maybe two themes to introduce characters or encourage a feeling. In parts of Gladiator, you can hear up to seven themes at one given time, all intertwining yet making perfect sense. Extraordinary.
I love it all. So many complex themes running simultaneously, yet all so recognisable. The simplicity and haunting sound of the vocals over the theme Now We Are Free through to the underlying, sinister, syncopated drumming announcing that battle is commencing. It’s utter genius.
The memories it evokes for me are falling in love with Russell Crowe’s character, Maximus, through to recording the piano version on my first classical album and later an actual duet at the piano with Zimmer himself!
One of my all-time favourites is from the soundtrack to Platoon – the 1986 film classic about the Vietnam War, that used Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings as its main theme.
I loved the truth of the music, bearing passionate witness to the horror and futility of war. It was impossible not to hear the profound grief and sadness in every note, interlaced with hope.
I remember my late teens – and all the banners and protests against the Vietnam war. I also remember the terror that a loved one in the US Air Force would never make it out alive; and my boundless relief that he did.
I love Tara’s Theme from Gone with the Wind.
Max Steiner’s score is so beautifully constructed and the theme recurs throughout the film in subtly different guises. In truth, I could have picked just about anything by Steiner, who was one of the absolute geniuses of the genre: not for nothing was he known as ‘The Father of film music’.
My other choice would be the main theme from Out of Africa by John Barry. I was fortunate enough to interview him on several occasions over the years and gleaned some fascinating insights into his method.
He would explain the vital importance of viewing a sequence or film for the first time and allowing oneself to react nervously to it. I have the score from Out of Africa on an LP, which has become very worn over the years by repeated playing, so I was delighted when it came out on CD so I could enjoy it without the clicks and pops.
This was a big film for me when I was at university. I saw it at The Lounge cinema in Headingley (sadly now long-gone) and its soundtrack, a blend of stunning opera arias and sonorous Satie-esque piano pieces (courtesy of Vladimir Cosma) really hits the spot.
Added to the blue cinematography, the singing of Wilhelmenia Fernandez and Richard Bohringer’s bof-ish “Gorodish’. It has stayed one of my favourites across the years.
My favourite of all film scores is Ennio Morricone’s music for Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In America.
Leone’s music encompasses all the glamour of the Prohibition Era, but also the sadness and nostalgia of the principal character Noodles (Robert De Niro) as he looks back over his unrequited love affair with Deborah, his friendship with his three fellow hoods, and the betrayal by one of them that lies at this great movie’s heart. Morricone’s magical score also features a 1924 hit Amapola, a great waltz tune that perfectly suits the movie’s mood.
Lots of people agree that Morricone’s music should have won the Oscar that year. It didn’t – his producers failed to enter it. And Morricone had to wait almost 30 years before he finally got one.
We are counting down The Classic FM Movie Music Hall of Fame in partnership with Radio Times from 7am on Saturday 29 August to 7pm, Monday 31 August on Classic FM.