Classical Film Soundtracks

Coming to Wexner Center: A film built around a soundtrack(Photo: Robert Stigwood Organization (RSO))
Coming to Wexner Center: A film built around a soundtrack(Photo: Robert Stigwood Organization (RSO))

Programming at the Wexner Center for the Arts is always intriguing. Most recently, I find myself intrigued by the Wex’s summer film series “Soundtrack Available: Music in American Film,” Thursday evening screenings throughout July and August of a dozen or so iconic films with equally iconic popular music soundtracks.

Saturday Night Fever (with that great Bee Gees falsetto), The Graduate (Simon & Garfunkel hits), Easy Rider (featuring Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild”), and O Brother, Where Art Thou? (all sorts of great bluegrass tunes, thanks to Alison Krauss) all appear on this series.

This series got me thinking about all the classical music film soundtracks out there, and about all the great composers of art music who, though largely known for their concert music, at some point also composed music for films. Sergei Prokofiev, Benjamin Britten, Ralph Vaughan Williams, William Walton, Dmitri Shostakovich, and more recently John Corigliano, Eric Whitacre . . . the list goes on.

How many of the films for which these classical composers wrote scores have I seen?  Actually, very few. So I’ve now embarked on my own little summer film series (which in homage to the Wex I’m very un-adventurously calling “Classical Soundtrack Available”) consisting of some of the films with soundtracks by the great composers of art music.

It has proven difficult to acquire most of these films–they’re generally quite old and obscure, and the libraries that own copies often won’t lend them–but I persist.  If I learn anything interesting, I’ll blog about it here. 

Meanwhile, if you’ve seen films with classical music soundtracks that you found interesting, please write in about them. See you at the movies!

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