Top ten classical works used in the movies

James Jolly
Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Barber's Adagio, heard in 'Platoon' and here played by the LA Phil
Barber's Adagio, heard in 'Platoon' and here played by the LA Phil

Classical music has a long relationship with the movies: Brief Encounter (1945), for example, made Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto a popular classic. Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra – or rather its first two minutes! – conjures up images of space travel or rockets rising majestically into the sky (thanks to Stanley Kubrick).

Or the music can be used ironically – Barber’s intense and passionate Adagio juxtaposed with the horrors of combat in Vietnam – or to add a sonic dimension of napalming the jungle in Apocalypse Now; helicopters taking the place of Wagner’s Valkyries.

(All of these recordings are available to stream via Spotify, as well as purchase on Amazon)

Barber Adagio ('Platoon') Los Angeles PO / Leonard Bernstein (DG) CD from Amazon / Download from Amazon

Wagner Ride of the Valkyries ('Apocalypse Now') LPO / Sir Mark Elder (CfP) CD from Amazon / Download from Amazon

Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 2 ('Brief Encounter') Leif Ove Andsnes; BPO / Antonio Pappano (EMI) CD from Amazon / Download from Amazon

Rimsky-Korsakov Flight of the Bumble Bee ('Shine') Academy of St Martin in the Fields / Sir Neville Marriner (CfP) Download from Amazon

R Strauss Also sprach Zarathustra ('2001: A Space Odyssey') BPO / Herbert von Karajan (DG) CD from Amazon / Download from Amazon

Mahler Symphony No 5 – Adagietto ('Death in Venice') New Philharmonia / Sir John Barbirolli (EMI) CD from Amazon / Download from Amazon

Mascagni Cavalleria rusticana – Intermezzo ('Godfather 3') Philharmonia / Giuseppe Sinopoli (DG) CD from Amazon / Download from Amazon

Verdi La forza del destino Overture ('Jean de Florette/Manon des Sources') BPO / Herbert von Karajan (DG) CD from Amazon / Download from Amazon

Vivaldi Four Seasons ('Kramer v Kramer’) Giuliano Carmignola; Venice Baroque Orch / Andrea Marcon (Sony Classical) CD from Amazon / Download from Amazon

Pachelbel Canon ('Ordinary People') The English Concert / Trevor Pinnock (Archiv) Download from Amazon

What recordings would appear in your Top 10? Why not add to our list by posting a comment below. (You need to be registered –  which is free – and logged in).

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