I just want to record some of my initial thoughts about the next Classic 100 on ABC Classic FM which is Music from the Movies. There was a sense of inevitability about the announcement to be honest, ever since the debate which raged over Howard Shores’ score for The Lord of the Rings making it into the Classic 100 20th century two years back it seemed film music was going to get its own countdown.
Of course, it’s also an exciting theme with lots of wonderful options. I do however have some concerns about it. The first is the inclusion of music not written for but used in films. So O Fortuna, Ride of the Valkyries and heaps of other pieces are open for consideration. Which is okay but the other choice is the score itself, so we can vote for Thus Spake Zarathustra for 2001: A Space Odyssey or the score to Ben Hur – but not the opening credits for Ben Hur. To me there’s a conflict here and the two should probably be treated as separate countdowns – classical music used in films and film scores.
My other issue is in many ways the same problem that arises in any of these countdowns but is accentuated by the nature of the theme. People will vote primarily for what they know and a lot of very good music misses out from not being aired often enough or simply well-known enough. That happens; it’s the nature of countdowns. But in this instance there’s more than just music preferences in play, there are film preferences and some of these will certainly affect the way people vote.
There is in some circles a view that blockbusters for instance have no real artistic merit, which is untrue but will deter people from voting for a lot of them. The one I feel most unfairly suffers here is actually Twilight. Outside the fans of the franchise there is a strong dismissal of anything associated with it, but if Classic FM listeners heard any of Burwell's score for the movies without knowing where it came from there is no doubt in my mind they would love it. Say what you will about the movies and books, the score behind the movie is sublime.
I also fear Basil Poledouris is going to be sadly overlooked. His score to Conan the Barbarian is fantastic, but it’s for Conan the Barbarian … which I love but I’m that kind of a guy, I don’t think many voters in the countdown will even pause to wonder if the music for it is any good at all. I could be horribly wrong and being a snob against myself, I hope so as it is definitely worthy of being included.
To be honest as I think about it, there are so many movies out there and so much good music is written for them. Maybe the blockbusters will win out for sheer shared knowledge. I guess we'll find out and I hope the journey is as fun as last year. Expect a series on composers soon.