Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile”: Anne Akiko Meyers

Smile, composed by Charlie Chaplin as the love theme for his 1936 film, Modern Times, was inspired by the soaring, romantic melodies of Puccini’s Tosca. Here is an excerpt from the film with the music in its original form. Lyrics were later written by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons and the song became a standard. It was first recorded in 1954 by Nat King Cole. Later, it was performed by artists including Barbra Streisand, Josh Groban, and Michael Jackson. Violinist Anne Akiko …

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Bernstein at 100: “On the Waterfront”

The 1954 American crime drama, On the Waterfront, starring Marlon Brando, is set amid the union violence and corruption of longshoreman working on the docks of the Hoboken, New Jersey waterfront. The film, directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg, was ranked the eighth-greatest movie of all time by the American film institute. It was Leonard Bernstein’s only foray into the world of Hollywood film scoring. Bernstein found the collaborative nature of film scoring frustrating artistically. …

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The 2018 Oscars: Nominees for Best Original Score

The 90th Academy Awards ceremony was held last Sunday. French composer Alexandre Desplat’s music for The Shape of Water was awarded Best Original score. Here are excerpts from the five scores nominated for this category for 2018: “The Shape of Water” (Alexandre Desplat) Arpeggios rise and fall in continuous waves of sound in Desplat’s music for the opening scene of The Shape of Water. The composer discusses the music for this love story between a mute …

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Remembering Jóhann Jóhannsson

The Icelandic-born composer, Jóhann Jóhannsson, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly over the weekend in Berlin. He was 48. Jóhannsson was the Oscar-nominated composer of such films as Arrival, Sicario, and The Theory of Everything. His scores frequently enter a dark, ambient sound world, augmenting the colors of the orchestra with the sounds of electronic music. This excerpt from Jóhannsson’s rejected score for the film, Blade Runner 2049, ventures into the world of microtonality- nonconventional tuning in which …

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Thomas Newman and the New, Ambient Film Score

Today is the birthday of American film composer Thomas Newman (b. 1955). Newman’s scores include Bridge of Spies (2015), Finding Nemo (2003), Road to Perdition (2002), American Beauty (1999), and The Shawshank Redemption (1994). His father, Alfred Newman, was one of Hollywood’s most important and influential composers in the early days of film scoring. Those early days were often characterized by sweeping, lushly Romantic melodies and large orchestral colors. In recent years, as the style of filmmaking has …

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The 2017 Oscars: Nominees for Best Original Score

The 89th Academy Awards are coming up this Sunday. Here are some excerpts from this year’s nominees for “Best Original Score: “Moonlight” (Nicholas Britell) Nicholas Britell’s score for Moonlight alters and manipulates sound in a way that is similar to expressive techniques used in cinematography. In this interview with The Frame, the Juilliard-trained pianist and composer said, Barry [Jenkins, the director] told me right from the beginning about his love of “chopped and screwed” music, which …

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Philip Glass at 80

Tomorrow marks the 80th birthday of American composer Philip Glass. In celebration, conductor Dennis Russell Davies will lead the Bruckner Orchestra Linz in a world premiere performance of Glass’ Symphony No. 11 at Carnegie Hall. Along with Steve Reich, Terry Riley, and La Monte Young, Philip Glass was a leading voice in the American minimalist movement which emerged in the late 1960s and 70s. His music from this period, which includes the gradually unfolding Music in Similar Motion (1969) and …

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