We’re big movie soundtrack fans here at the VSO. We love hearing old favorites repurposed in inventive ways, and we appreciate the film industry for its steady flow of new orchestral music. Looking ahead to the rest of 2020, we’re particularly excited to hear new works from Hans Zimmer and Pinar Toprak, among others, and hope to see the field continue to diversify as a whole. In the meantime, there’s a lot we already love to listen to—here is some of our administrative staff’s favorite film music.
You’ll notice a lot of John Williams’ work on this list, and for good reason. If you’ve seen a movie in the last 40 years or so, there’s a solid chance you’ve heard his work. But John Williams is more than just prolific; he also has a knack for pulling at heartstrings, building suspense, and interweaving recognizable character themes within complex arrangements. Needless to say, we can’t wait for our upcoming Star Wars and Beyond: The Music of John Williams concert later this month.
The Indiana Jones movies were a staple of my childhood. I have a particularly soft spot for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The plot and the late 80s visual effects pulled me in and always kept me on the edge of my seat even when I already knew the ending. The music in the film created the perfect level of suspense and drama and never let me settle in or get comfortable. As many times as I have seen this movie, there is always room to watch it just one more time.
-Mary Stuessy, Accounting and Benefits Manager
Movies that sprang to mind immediately: The Graduate, O Brother Where Art Thou, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Elvira Madigan (whose soundtrack is so closely associated with that film that Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 is commonly nicknamed “Elvira Madigan.”) But my pick is Master and Commander, which includes Bach (with Yo-Yo Ma, no less), Mozart, Corelli, Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis (one of my all-time faves), and especially the Boccherini arrangement at the end. I love that Russell Crowe learned to play the violin for the role!
-Eleanor Long, Orchestra Manager
I’ve only ever seen The Grand Budapest Hotel once, on a plane. I crossed eight time zones that day, so I couldn’t actually tell you anything about the plot of the movie, but the soundtrack really stuck with me and I’ve listened to it many times since. If you like balalaika, drum brushes, Alexandre Desplat’s original compositions, and traditional European folk tunes, then this is the soundtrack for you. The whole thing is worth a listen, but if you only have a few minutes, check out the “Mr. Moustafa” theme. To me, it feels equal parts foreign and nostalgic, which pretty much encapsulates the feeling of the rest of the score.
-Margot Van Horne, Marketing Manager
The original London Symphony Orchestra recording of John Williams’ score to A New Hope is always a good place to start. Close Encounters of the Third Kind is also brilliant. Jessica Curry wrote a breathtakingly original, BAFTA award-winning score to the videogame Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and pretty much anything by Bear McReary is amazing, but I especially love the moody and atmospheric score to the God of War video game series.
-Ben Cadwallader, Executive Director
Listen to A New Hope HERE.
When asked to give my favorite music from a film, the first thought was instantly Jurassic Park. Hands down. This movie was a defining moment in my childhood, and a bond that my brother and I share over our love of dinosaurs. And yes – we have been known to blast the theme as we drive down a road.
But then I gave this some more thought. Sure, the Jurassic Park theme song and soundtrack is definitely my favorite film score of all time. However, the soundtrack that really changed the way I listened to music was from the 1995 movie Now and Then. This was a compilation of classic greats and introduced me to the Allman Brothers, Tony Orlando & Dawn, and The Archies. I wore out the tape signing along to The Guess Who, Stevie Wonder, and the Jackson 5 – I still know all the words to these songs and it gave me a deeper appreciation for music.
(Runners up: 8 Seconds, Clueless, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s)
-Sasha Vaut, Director of Philanthropy
If I’m being honest with myself, John Williams’ Jurassic Park theme is at the top of every music playlist I have. Need to get motivated to wash the dishes? Put on the Jurassic Park theme. Are you moving but just looking at those empty boxes is giving you anxiety? Put on the Jurassic Park theme! Do you have friends over and it’s early in the morning and nobody feels like getting up? PUT ON THE JURASSIC PARK THEME. It has never let me down. Then, wonderfully, it kind of became the VSO’s anthem and we would play it at staff parties, and then the orchestra played it on the 2019 Summer Tour, which was probably the pinnacle of not only the work itself, but my life as a whole. Am I exaggerating? Definitely not. (And if I want a nice warm smile followed by a choking ugly cry I’ll listen to “Married Life” by Michael Giacchino from the movie Up but that’s a story for another day.)
-Grace Spain, Box Office Manager