No Great Classical Composers Today?
I was talking with a dear friend a couple of weeks ago—a fellow lover of classical music. My friend was lamenting the fact that we have no great composers today, that the genius of classical music has withered away during the past century. He asked, “Where are the Bachs, the Mozarts, the Beethovens of today?” I told him, there are many great composers of classical music today. Among the masses, they are nearly invisible, but they exist none the same.
“Where are they?” and “Who are they?” some may ask. They are the composers of the film scores of today’s movies. Great “classical” music is being written every year and many people don’t realize it. It sometimes shows up in obscure movies, other times in blockbusters. It may appear in a movie which is panned by the critics or in movies that are well received. I have a long list of movies whose “classical” music I enjoy and admire. Some you will recognize, others you may not. There are so many on my list, I hardly know where to start, but I’ll share three below that come to mind.
Film Score to Ben-Hur
One of my favorite film scores is from the 1959 classic Ben-Hur, composed by Miklos Rozsa. Rozsa was a winner of three Academy Awards (for Ben-Hur, Killers and Spellbound—one of my favorites, also), more than a hundred other movies, and a composer of many non-movie classical works as well. Incidentally, his mother, a pianist, studied with students of Franz Liszt.
I also enjoyed the music used for the closing scene in the Da Vinci Code, composed by Hans Zimmer (another prolific composer of numerous well-known films). Frenzied violins accompany the powerful theme (titled, “Chevalier de sangreal”) in ever increasing volume, as illumination descends upon Robert Langdon when he figures out the final piece to the puzzle.
Lady in the Water was an unusual movie about a man who rescues a woman, who lives in the water, from danger; little does he realize that she is a character from a bed-time story who is trying to return to her world. The woman is trying to find a man whose writing will better humanity’s future. When the writer is found, the woman tells him about his future, that his writing will change the world. The music that accompanies that scene (titled, “The Healing”) is inspiring and beautiful, composed by James Newton Howard, also a composer of the soundtrack of numerous movies.
A hundred years from now, I believe much of this music will continue to live on, just as it has for the eighteenth and nineteenth century legends. Yes, classical music continues to thrive, though it is hardly noticed by the masses. When you consider what has been written for the cinema, there is a nearly endless supply of great classical music. I would love to hear from you, dear readers, about some of your favorite cinema compositions.