Movie Scores

As John Williams and Hans Zimmer are two of my favorite film score composers, I've created pages specific to each composer:

Pirates of the CaribbeanThe Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Howard Shore

"As he's done for the saga's first two installments, composer Howard Shore has honed a mature, brooding orchestral masterpiece that's long on subtle shadings of mood and nuance, while eschewing the hollow bombast that's characterized all too many mainstream action and adventure films for three decades. If anything, he's pared this chapter of his music for Middle Earth even closer to the bone, the trilogy's familiar themes repeated with a sparing hand that only heightens their dramatic power."

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Pirates of the CaribbeanPirates of the Caribbean
Klaus Badelt

"Klaus Badelt initially entices us with some sparing Celtic folk charm, then unleashes a furious broadside of symphonic and choral thunder to rival his ominous score for K-19. The composer's fellow German mentor is an obvious influence throughout (the album is credited with a wink as "Score overproduced by Hans 'Long John' Zimmer") but Badelt brings his own muscular instincts to bear throughout. Perhaps shrewdly realizing that genre cliches are nothing if not for reinventing, Badelt delivers his rhythmically nervous Eurocentric sensibilities--sort of Holst duels Shostakovich on the Spanish Main--with the subtlety of a scorching cannonball."

Bass Trombones: Bill Reichenbach, Phil Teele, and Bob Sanders

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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the RingThe Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Howard Shore

"Score composer Howard Shore has informed this first installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy with his distinctly modern sensibilities. Revolving loosely around a brief, heroic brass theme, this epic is infused with a powerful rhythmic thrust and a musical range that encompasses centuries." 2001 Oscar Winner - Best Original Score.

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Two TowersThe Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Howard Shore

"Fellowship's sequel takes an often Wagnerian-scaled dramatic tack, following the film's story line into even more brooding and ominous dark corners. The previous film's Hobbit-inspired pastoralism is supplanted here by rich ethnic textures that expand the musical scope of Middle-earth and the World of Men."

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BraveheartBraveheart
James Horner

"A 1996 Academy Award nominee for Best Dramatic Score, Braveheart is one of composer James Horner's most accomplished works. Utilizing the full range of the London Symphony Orchestra, the Choristers of Westminster Abbey, and a small ensemble of traditional folk instrumentalists, Horner largely eschews the bombast typical of the genre and cuts a more emotionally complex--and satisfying--musical course through this 14th-century tale of betrayal and rebellion."

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SoldierSoldier
Joel McNeely

This score made the list based on a recommendation by Randy Hawes, bass trombonist in the Detroit Symphony. He informed me that a double brass section was used, separated by sound-proof walls. Six tubas and a few bass trombones were employed!

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GloryGlory
James Horner

"Glory's most unsung player was composer James Horner, who created one of his most grand and memorable scores. So memorable, in fact, that some of its rich cures have been recycled by other filmmakers and Horner himself. More than any other single work, it's Glory that's responsible for Horner's remarkable rise to the top of his profession in the '90s."

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The Pink PantherThe Pink Panther
Henry Mancini

Henry Mancini's legacy as a premiere Hollywood composer was born from movies like Breakfast at Tiffany's, Hatari!, Victor/Victoria, and Two for the Road. However, it is the title track from Panther that became his most recognizable theme.

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BatmanBatman
Danny Elfman

Although Danny Elfman had composed for a few films prior to Batman, his music for the 1989 blockbuster put him squarely on the Hollywood map. The former Oingo Boingo member perfectly captured the moods of the film, from the dark and mysterious to the playful.

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Apollo 13Apollo 13
James Horner

Horner's score for Apollo has a definite patriotic flavor, marked by the opening theme's drums and solitary trumpet. The disc also contains pop tunes and spoken dialogue. Horner has composed better scores, but this certainly has powerful moments (All Systems Go/The Launch).

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Dances With WolvesDances With Wolves
John Barry

"John Barry's Academy Award-winning score for Dances with Wolves is nothing short of a modern classic by a film scoring master. Utilizing Wagnerian structure, Barry's three main themes recur in magisterial symphonic form."

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Fantasia 2000Fantasia 2000
Various composers
Chicago Symphony Orchestra

"Without the gorgeous visuals, the soundtrack to Fantasia/2000 is nothing more than a collection of some of classical music's greatest moments. But what moments they are!"

Charles Vernon's performance on The Pines of Rome is worth the price of the CD.

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Henry VHenry V
Patrick Doyle

"Briefed by the director to follow "Shakespeare's golden words" and be "as bold as possible," Patrick Doyle produced music of epic scope, lyrical passion, and descriptive imagination. The score has a real flavor of opera as Doyle underscores the great speeches (notably the St Crispin's Day speech) with a tangible sense of drama, but one that is always sensitive to the nuances of the words."

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SignsSigns
James Newton Howard

"James Newton Howard creates a musical undercurrent of mystery and unease, with nervous arpeggios and sullen, swelling strings ratcheting up throughout the score's unsettling first half. A sense of gentle spirituality gradually evolves with Howard's music ultimately achieving a quiet, satisfying sense of resolve that's missing from all too much of Hollywood's hollow dramatic thunder."

Trombone section: Bill Booth, Andrew Malloy, James Sawyer, Phil Teele, Bill Reichenbach.

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The NaturalThe Natural
Randy Newman

"Randy Newman's score remains, like star Robert Redford's turn as the film's Roy Hobbs, somewhat mystic and decidedly larger than life. Newman's music flawlessly fuses overwrought Wagnerian grandeur with the more plaintive strains of Aaron Copland, arguably forming one of the film's most crucial narrative elements in the bargain."

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