When is film music considered Classical music?

When is film music considered Classical music?

Robin Grier
on Apr 04, 2017

Though many classical composers write film scores for today's movies, is that music considered classical music?

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Is music written for movies by classical composers considered "classicall" music?

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What do you think?

Anonymous
on 2017-05-25T12:38:55+00:00
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Madelaine Matej MacQueen
on May 02, 2017
"I think movie music needs to be viewed in its economic/political context, just like any other..."
Jacqueline Gerber
on Apr 17, 2017
"Are movie scores by Vaughan Williams or Shostakovich any less classical because they were "work..."

Robin Grier

Robin Grier - 2017-05-25T12:38:55+00:00 - "Though many classical composers write film scores for today's movies, is that music considered..."

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Madelaine Matej MacQueen
on May 02, 2017 - 10:30 am

I think movie music needs to be viewed in its economic/political context, just like any other music. I've talked to modern, living film composers, and they tell me that most of what we hear in new releases is not written by the composer who has his name on the movie. These days, a big-name composer such as John Williams will write a theme or a single melodic line, and underpaid ghost-writer composers will complete the entirety of the score. Movie music is caught up in the Hollywood culture of stars being visible and the hard workers being invisible. Of course, concerts are not immune to the same phenomenon, but classical music written for the concert hall is usually not ghost-written, and credit is given where it is due. I don't know when the practice of ghost-writing movie music started, but it has not always been that way. Older scores are written by the listed composer. Along the same lines, most recordings in films and television today are made my a synthesized orchestra, meaning that not a single real musician is hired. This is a big difference from the earliest films, for which an organist was hired to give a live performance of the score every time the film was shown. Performers and composers have probably lost more work and credit to film music than to any other genre. It's all because of money. 

 
Jacqueline Gerber
on Apr 17, 2017 - 12:35 pm

Are movie scores by Vaughan Williams or Shostakovich any less classical because they were "work for hire?" Malcolm Arnold wrote the score for "Bridge on the River Kwai" and virtually no one remembers because Alford's "Colonel Bogey March" was so prominently featured in it and - let's face it - was a crowd-pleaser.  One could say that movie scores by composers known for their classical works are frequently classical in style.  Whether the music passes muster in the concert hall is up to audiences and music critics.

 
Cliff Lewis
on Apr 07, 2017 - 10:51 am

I find it almost impossible to define classical music, other than, "I know it when I hear it." Even that is subjective, of course. Why is it OK for WCLV to play an arrangement of Yesterday played by a classical guitarist, or one played by The Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom, but it is not OK to play the original Beatles' song, which in many ways is better than the other arrangements.

WCLV often plays movie music, and I am OK with that. But when I tune in to WCLV and hear movie music playing, I can nearly always tell that it is movie music. It is different from what I consider to be real classical music. Of course there are exceptions; for example most people don't even know that Prokofiev's Lt. Kije is movie music. And real classical music is frequently used in movies.

My view on "classical" movie music goes back to the original "Wow, that sounds a lot like classical music!" movie. Yes, I mean Star Wars. I remember seeing The Empire Strikes Back, sitting on the edge of my seat and drawn into the riveting music, which seemed even better than the first movie. I ran out and bought the movie soundtrack recording the next day. After listening to the whole album--both sides!--I realized that the music didn't stand on its own. Everybody likes the main theme, of course, and it's hard not to be stirred by the Imperial March. But the rest of it was not that interesting.

I believe that is the way it should be. Movie music is meant to set the mood for a scene, not to steal it. Some of it can be set to a suite for performance, but it is usually more appropriate for a pops concert than a classical concert.

Last summer we went to Blossom for the showing of Raiders of the Lost Ark, mainly because it was the end of summer and we still had some passes left from our lawn ticket book. I was not surprised to see that it was the most popular Cleveland Orchestra concert we had attended that summer. The orchestra performed flawlessly; from our seats on the lawn we couldn't tell that we were hearing the orchestra instead of the movie soundtrack. But what a waste of the Cleveland Orchestra's talents!