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The History of Film Music

If you like to learn something about the history of film music, I recommend the three-part BBC documentary series “Sound of Cinema: The Music that Made the Movies” from 2013. Film composer and author Neil Brand guides the viewer through the history of film music and each of the three episodes lasts about one hour. They are thematically structured into three parts: “The Big Score” tells the beginning of the pompous and orchestral sound of cinema in the 1930s and the impact of 19th century Romantic Classicism that Max Steiner and Erich Wolfgang Korngold had on cinema. In the episode “Pop Goes the Soundtrack” Neil Brand continues to talk about the development of film music in the 1960s and the influences of pop music in film, and in the third part “New Frontiers” the technological development and its use and impact on music and sound in film is discussed. 

In all three episodes, numerous examples are shown and many living film composers get a chance to speak – with this work, Neil Brand has created a simple but very precise analysis of various influences of the composers who have had such a decisive influence on the Hollywood sound and, above all, helped the films to become unique and recognisable, starting with Steiner and Korngold, Bernhard Hermmann, Lalo Schifrin, John Barry and ending with Hans Zimmer. 

During my research on the history of film music, I stumbled upon this great documentary series almost by chance and I would like to warmly recommend it to you.