Movies and classical music are the perfect duo. Classical music has a timeless and recognizable quality, and it contains such passionate emotional and intellectual expression that it simply cannot be left out of the soundtrack behind a great fight scene or an emotional speech.
Movies were created to use pictures to evoke emotions and feelings among audiences, and classical compositions were written to do the same thing using instrumentals and vocals, so it makes sense that they are so commonly pieced together.
If you turn on any movie or TV show, there is a chance that you will hear at least one piece of classical music. Whether it is a full chorus of brass during battle or a clip of strings during a suspenseful moment, there is a major likelihood that you will experience at least one classical piece coming from the speakers.
Back in the 18th century and early 19th century, classical pieces were the backbone of operas. An opera is a dramatic performance set to music with singers and instrumentalists. Movies are the modern-day opera and the popular performance art of our time. The standard classical music style originated shortly before the creation of operas, and thus, the two were made to fit together. Because movies are akin to operas, it is apparent that classical music belongs in the soundtracks of movies.
When you see a movie, the music reflects what is happening on the screen. Somber music adds to somber images, suspenseful music adds to suspenseful actions, etc. When used correctly, using classical music in movies will increase the overall impact of emotions and feelings that the movie is trying to evoke.
While some movies use classical music from classical era composers such as Bach, Beethoven and Wagner, other movies use music from contemporary classical composers.
Movies such as “Jurassic Park,” “Schindler’s List” and “Titanic” all have very famous soundtracks that were commissioned from contemporary-classical composers. Contemporary-classical composers are people that write classical music in modern times. Contemporary-classical music follows the same style and structure of the classical era, but it’s written more recently and has more modern influences.
“Jurassic Park” and “Schindler’s List” soundtracks were created by the same composer: John Williams. Williams is arguably the most prominent movie soundtrack composer of the 21st century, doing movies such as “Star Wars,” “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” “Home Alone,” “Jaws” and many more.
Pieces from composers such as Williams are constantly being played by bands of all ages and skill-levels alongside classical era pieces. The prominence of contemporary classical music in movie soundtracks is creating a musical environment in which modern works are becoming almost as recognizable as those from the 18th to 19th century.