What is the best music or film

I was looking forward to him playing me something melodic, ”said Steven Spielberg. “But John Williams,” and the director stuck out two fingers as if they were two old socks, “just pounded these two around on the low keys, faster and faster.” Spielberg burst out laughing at the time. Was this supposed to be the cover story of Jaws? Today this Williams melody is one of the classics of film music. The hunting motif still causes discomfort, more than 40 years after the cinema premiere. It's a masterpiece of effectiveness.

Editor's recommendation

Music influences the judgment of an event. It amplifies or softens what we see - it manipulates. The shark in the water goes faster because the beat dictates it. Sound and image then together form our impression, which becomes memory. Nothing illustrates this interaction better than the film that John Williams quotes: Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho". Of course, the shower scene in which Marion Crane is assassinated by Norman Bates with a knife also works without music - a good film has to work without music. But the knife wounds develop greater horror because the composer Bernard Herrmann illustrates them with staccato strings. As Leigh's blood flows towards the drain, the viscous sound of a cello joins in. As if it were this totality of all tones that is responsible for death and then obliterates all traces.

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And what happened after this world famous scene was completed? A deep rift was created between the director and his house composer. Hitchcock wanted the shower murder without instrumental accompaniment, probably only wanted to hear the knife wounds. But would “Psycho” have turned out just as good? You don't want to believe in it. The desire for music is too great, the knowledge that it simply has to make pictures better.

How film music sticks

Sometimes your memory throws a spanner in the works. Not even the musicians themselves are immune from this. Ennio Morricone stated that one of his greatest triumphs was the opening scene of Sergio Leone's spaghetti western “Play me a song of death”. According to the master, a bloodbath to the sounds of the "Man with a Harmonica". We know the harmonica melody, but the problem is: It doesn't even appear in the moment Morricone quoted. The beginning even works without a score. Morricone remembered wrongly - but the music is so closely linked to the film that you think it's looping through it.

Editor's recommendation

We have selected the 60 best soundtracks. We have taken into account those that mainly consist of specially composed pieces or adaptations of existing material (such as Walter Carlos ’" Clockwork Orange "). Samplers of long-released hits ("Pulp Fiction", "Trainspotting") and scores to which the film was more of an accompanying work have not been included - instead of the other way around, as it should be for a soundtrack (which eliminates Prince's "Purple Rain") . All scores are in chronological order.

Gone with the Wind (1939)

Max Steiner

The world-famous closing melody, Rhett leaves Scarlett, it collapses on the steps of the plantation, is mistakenly treated as a love theme. However, it is dedicated to the country estate “Tara” - Steiner's two-and-a-half-hour soundtrack was so opulent: Even buildings were honored. Twelve “Original Scores” were nominated at the Oscars in 1940, Steiner lost to Herbert Stothart's “Wizard of Oz”.

Elevator to the scaffold(1958)

Miles Davis

Director Louis Malle saw it as a coup to have Davis engaged for his Jeanne Moreau film - for the trumpeter it was a commission, finished after two days. The five-member band improvised on a screen projection of the film. It is remarkable how Davis drove the evolution of jazz. Cool jazz became this free-floating modal jazz - which in turn forms a preliminary stage to free jazz.

Ben Hur(1959)

Miklós Rósza

The mother of all epic scores, and with more than three hours of music (with a film duration of 212 minutes) the supposedly longest soundtrack of all time. For his drama about a fallen prince who fights his way back as a slave, director William Wyler engaged the Hungarian Miklós Rósza, the top composer of his time, known for his collaborations with Hitchcock and Billy Wilder.


Bernard Herrmann

The “legendary shower scene” should be in every manual for film music: Herrmann relied on staccato strings, accentuated Hitchcock's fast-cut murder. The suspicion that the shrill tones were generated electronically was refuted: the microphones were placed close to the instruments. Hitch originally wanted the sequence without music, which led to a rift between the director and the composer.

Out of breath(1960)

Martial Solal

The great irritation was that Godard's realism-oriented Nouvelle Vague pioneering film received a jazz soundtrack that was less narrative, but was sufficient in itself. Pianist Solal, now 90 years old, gave the pulsating big city atmosphere Paris ’with his shimmering keyboard play and additional strings the appropriate hectic pace.

West Side Story (1961)

Leonard Bernstein

As musical director of the New York Philharmonic, Bernstein was the logical choice for the screen adaptation of the Broadway hit. The film by directors Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins is even more popular than the stage version, Bernstein and his poet Stephen Sondheim hired three times as many musicians as planned. An orchestral spectacle, as if instruments could dance.

Lawrence of Arabia(1962)

Maurice Jarre

Jarre received his first Oscar, and the alliance with director David Lean should lead to further Academy Awards ("Doctor Zhivago", "Journey to India"). The dream team was the inspiration for Steven Spielberg / John Williams. Everything was in it: the vastness, the exotic, the loneliness, the wonder of life. "Lawrence of Arabia" established the soundtrack as a force of nature.

The pink panther(1963)

Henry Mancini

The title melody is dedicated to the jewel thief Phantom (David Niven) - but of course everyone thinks of the song, which contrasts velvet-pawed curiosity with shock winds (feeling: caught!), Of the four-legged friend, who was later immortalized in a comic series. In addition, composer Mancini established his unprecedented symphonic jazz with Latino borrowings.

A hard day’s night (1964)

The Beatles

As "Magical Mystery Tour“(1967) the third studio album by the Fab Four stands for itself, is also appreciated without the film (director: Richard Lester). "And I Love Her" and "Can't Buy Me Love" were hits, the further development of the band was evident in the title track, which Beatlemania lamented. Harrison's legendary opening chord represents insanity. It sounds crooked and somehow not crooked.

My songs, my dreams(1965)

Richard Rodgers

Of course, "Edelweiss" is not Austria's national anthem, but Robert Wise's dreamy and political film adaptation of a musical (it deals with the annexation of the Alpine state to Nazi Germany) has also reached pop culture. Björk refers to it in “Dancer In The Dark”, Christian Bruhn reminds of it with his “Heidi”. Rodgers "The Sound Of Music" (original title) is the most beautiful escapism.

dance of the Vampires(1967)

Krzysztof Komeda

He could have become Hollywood's most sought-after composer, but the 37-year-old died in 1969 as a result of a fall at a party. Komeda equipped Roman Polanski's bloodsucker grotesque with diabolical choirs, with Eastern European folklore in which all hairs stand up - but also with a hymn to the beautiful Sharon Tate (“Sarah In Bath”).

Once Upon a Time in the West(1968)

Ennio Morricone

Everyone knows the melody, but it is the second part of “Man With A Harmonica” that was defining the style: A heavenly, proudly marching choir reinterprets the bloodthirsty cowboys into glorious fighters. The antihero motif survived the spaghetti western, and whenever Tarantino lets go of his killers, who are saviors for him, he has Morricone in mind.

In the Heat of the Night(1967)

Quincy Jones

As a police officer who is supposed to solve a murder in a racist southern community, Sidney Poitier, the first black Hollywood superstar, received musical support from Quincy Jones and in the theme song from Ray Charles: "Stars with evil eyes stare from the sky ...". A win-win-win situation that earned Norman Jewison's drama five Oscars - but none for the three African Americans.


Lalo Schifrin

Alongside John Barry, Schifrin, now 85, was considered the man for agent music. The pianist celebrated his breakthrough with "Mission Impossible" and the Peng! -Peng! Orchestra, but the score for Peter Yates' cop thriller was his masterpiece. Suspenseful brass zack, lurking bass, percussive continuous fire. The Argentine played it again with the WDR Big Band in 2000.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service(1969)

John Barry

Barry's eleven Bond scores are all spectacular, this one overwhelmed by the courage to prepare the title motif as a purely instrumental mixture of band and orchestra and by Louis Armstrong's divine “We Have All The Time In The World”. The other pieces can be found today on cocktail jazz samplers as well as playing music for Rocko Schamoni's shows.

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