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 Posted:   Sep 14, 2013 - 10:08 AM   
 By:   Ron Hardcastle   (Member)

There's a recent discussion here about Jerry Fielding's music for "The Gambler" with James Caan, and I joined the conversation to point out that there's more of Mahler's 1st symphony heard in that movie than what Fielding wrote. I just decided to spin it off into a discussion about how some film composers have appropriated music from classical composers as their own. Here was my last post at that "Gambler" discussion, after it was pointed out that Fielding had actually ARRANGED Mahler's music rather than using actual recordings of it:

"Well, if that's true, you got me, because I was sure that they had just played actual performances from the symphony. It isn't like what Rick Wakeman did with chunks of Dvorák's 9th symphony for Ken Russell's mad "Crimes of Passion." And while we're on this subject, what about Bill Conti's use of one of the biggest themes from Tchaikovsky's violin concerto as HIS main theme in "The Right Stuff"? I think that THAT would be a good topic for a separate discussion, which I'm going to start right now."

When "The Right Stuff" was first released in the early 1980s, I sat there, listening to that music and trying to remember where I had heard it. It was maddening, because I KNEW it was from some favorite classical piece. I went home and ran my fingers across my hundreds of classical LPs, going alphabetically by composer. When I reached Tchaikovsky, I pulled out my recording of his violin concerto by the great Heifetz, put it on the turntable, and set the stylus down near the beginning and PRECISELY where that very theme exploded from my speakers. Eureka, and on my first try! While I love Conti's contributions to that film and bought the movie on DVD and the soundtrack on CD, I've always felt that Tchaikovsky deserved at least some mention.

Another: John Williams took the march from Prokofiev's opera "The Love For 3 Oranges" and used it as a signifiant theme ("Parade of the Ewoks") in the middle of "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi" and never, to my knowledge, acknowledged it in the credits nor on the soundtrack. When I downloaded it to my iTunes, I listed it as "Prokofiev/Williams."

And I just HAD to interject this one: Carl Orff's hypnotic "Vier Stücke für Xylophon," which was used, with acknowledgement, in Terrence Mallick's "Badlands," and became the most recognizable theme in "True Romance" and later wrongly attributed to Hans Zimmer rather than to Orff.

I can think of others, but I'm sure our readers have their own examples of classical music being appropriated by film composers. So let's hear it.

 
 Posted:   Sep 14, 2013 - 10:54 AM   
 By:   The Beach Bum   (Member)

Williams' "cribbing" of the classics has always been very deft -- he'll lightly reference a theme, or a phrase, but only in the most superficial way, and he always takes it in his own unique direction.


As for others off the top of my head:

Poledouris' "Wolverine" theme in Red Dawn is a direct excerpt from Copland's "Fanfare For The Common Man" (but he harmonizes and develops it in a completely different way).

The funeral cue in Goldsmith's The Salamander is an obvious pastiche of the "Lacrimosa" from Mozart's Requiem.

Philippe Sarde's "Creation Of Fire" in Quest For Fire opens with a direct lift from Penerecki's "Passacaglia" from Magnificat III.

I'll leave it to others to mention James Horner's scores!

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 14, 2013 - 10:56 AM   
 By:   Kev McGann   (Member)

Well done Ron, you got through that opening gambit and didn't mention James Horner once!!
That takes some doing! wink

 
 Posted:   Sep 14, 2013 - 11:02 AM   
 By:   Ron Hardcastle   (Member)

Re: Williams' "cribbing" of the classics has always been very deft -- he'll lightly reference a theme, or a phrase, but only in the most superficial way, and he always takes it in his own unique direction.

Interesting! But in the case of the Prokofiev, Williams pretty much uses it as it was written -- not like what Lloyd Webber did in his interesting cribbing of the "Pie Jesu" from Fauré's "Requiem" for his OWN "Requiem." Thanks for the interesting post.

To The Beach Bum: As for Horner, sorry, but I'm not much aware of that. Perhaps too subtle for THESE old ears!!!

 
 Posted:   Sep 14, 2013 - 11:35 AM   
 By:   Gary S.   (Member)

Btw Ron: Welcome to the board.

 
 Posted:   Sep 14, 2013 - 11:38 AM   
 By:   Ron Hardcastle   (Member)

Re: Btw Ron: Welcome to the board.

Thanks. I've responded to several previous postings, but this is my first original. It's nice to be around people so passionate and knowledgeable about films and film music.

 
 Posted:   Sep 14, 2013 - 11:46 AM   
 By:   Miles (MerM)   (Member)

Ooh, great topic - and one I was going to do at some point. Dammit! wink

I'm surprised we've gone this far without mentioning Michael Kamen. I'm especially fond of his use of Beethoven in Die Hard (not just restating it, but integrating it into his music and using it as a leitmotif for Hans Gruber) and Brazil in... take a guess. razz

Welcome to the board Ron!

 
 Posted:   Sep 14, 2013 - 1:28 PM   
 By:   The Beach Bum   (Member)

Interesting! But in the case of the Prokofiev, Williams pretty much uses it as it was written -- not like what Lloyd Webber did in his interesting cribbing of the "Pie Jesu" from Fauré's "Requiem" for his OWN "Requiem." Thanks for the interesting post.


I see it as Williams using the same "jell-o mold" as Prokofiev, but filling it with different ingredients. Much like the form of "Hedwig's Theme" in Harry Potter is a dizzying waltz that builds to furious climax -- like Ravel's "La Valse" -- but consists of different melodic and harmonic building blocks.


To The Beach Bum: As for Horner, sorry, but I'm not much aware of that. Perhaps too subtle for THESE old ears!!!

James Horner's helped himself to a lot of classics - Mahler (in Star Trek II and Krull), Prokofiev (in Star Trek II & III and Willow), Khachaturianin's "Gayne Ballet" (Aliens and Clear And Present Danger). That said, I love Horner and he can can be very original as well.

 
 Posted:   Sep 14, 2013 - 1:28 PM   
 By:   Adm Naismith   (Member)

For Legend, I thought I read somewhere that Goldsmith refers to the score and The Dress Waltz as his homage or ode to Ravel.
To me, The Dress Waltz sounds like Ravel's La Valse edited and adapted for running time. When I saw La Valse danced a few months ago I though to myself that the music sounded awfully familiar.

It's no surprise it was used. The scene in the movie is very similar to the story of the ballet.

 
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