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March 1995, Week 2


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edwin jahiel <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 13 Mar 1995 16:52:09 CST
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
I post this to several groups  and some individuals because I believe that
cross-discussing is good and that the various groups, over and above their
specialties, can offer much to one another.
My original message to the group FILMUS-L follows:
If I may,here is an idea for a simple, rather amusing thread.
Which film launched or popularized a given piece of classical music?
For example: BRIEF ENCOUNTER by David Lean (a **** movie).  Rachmaninoff's
Piano Concerto #2, played, I believe, by Eileen Joyce, became hugely
popular, better known than ever, after the film's release.
Cocteau's ORPHEE (Orpheus) popularized a bit of Gluck's Orfeo, via Georges Auric
And so on...
The responses coming in seem to concentrate in general on classical music
in film, but not on  particular music in particular films, that is, music
that, the way Helen launched a thousand ships, certain classical sounds
launched a thousand recordings.
My posting seems to have started a new thread, but it is a parallel one.To
repeat, what I had in mind is the sort of music that was unknown to --
pardon the expression -- the great unwashed, but because of a certain film,
became widely known. To my examples above let me add 2001: A Space Odyssey
which launched Also Spracht Zarathustra (I'd hate to think that he Blue
Danube Waltz was little-known before this!) and so on ---and, for the more
esoteric public, music by Gyorgy Ligeti.
Another example would be Disney's Fantasia that introduced to the masses
Dukas, Mussorgsky, etc. Or Elvira Madigan for Mozart's Piano Concert #21
(Some of you may remember that this concerto started selling LPs of "The
Elvira Madigan Music") . Etc.etc.
Or else we have the Ride of the Walkyries that has been a staple of movies
since the earliest sound days, but, in a special case, became really known
in the USA after the helicopter sequences ("I love the smell of napalm
inthe morning!")  of
Apocalypse Now. (And by the way, in The Cousins by Claude Chabrol, it is
effectively used along with Siegfried's Journey, a Mozart Symphony, and the
unending melody of Tristan and Isolde). Or Brahms,and Tristan & Isolde, and
Beethoven and Mendelssohn in Bunuel's L'Age d'Or.
So we could have 2 threads. Both valuable mind you. One, along the lines I
suggested (Popularizing the Classics or whatever would be an accurate
description), and the other about classical music in movies, but music that
did not result in huge, newly found popularity and that did not "introduce"
certain pieces to the public-at-large.
That second thread is also quite useful. It may (or rather will) give us
some comparisons between the much wider use of classical excerpts in
European films, vs. their much sparser use in American movies.
In effect, by working around the classical music theme we could make,
collectively, a fascinating database. And this would have repercussions in
many directions. Such as the film-music imitations, inspirations, ripoffs
etc. of classical stuff. Such as the emotive power of classical sounds &
their reinforcements of images. Such as the excellent Vivaldiesque (and
Handel-esque) score of the late & lamented Georges Delerue for Francois
Truffaut'sLa Nuit Americaine (Day for Night). Such as the very clever use
of Handel (by George Fenton) in the recent The Madness of King George.
This would not mean demeaning the Herrmanns and Roszas and, yes, the Victor
Youngs or the Glasses --and thir direct-for-film-compositions -- but it
would open (pardon the cliche) new horizons.