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Magnificent Movie Music: The Heartbeat of Film

4-Session Weekend Series

Sunday, October 17, 24, and November 7, 14, 2021 - 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET
Quick Tix Code: 1K0153
 $80 Package Member
 $90 Package Non-Member
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"The marriage of the moving image and music is perhaps the most powerful visual communication we have."—Director Norman Jewison

Film music can inspire and romance us. It can make emotional statements that a script simply can’t, subvert a plot with a completely different subtext, and inject irony, fear, or humor when there is apparently none on screen. Music can salvage a bad movie and make a good one great.

Great film scores by composers such as Bernard Herrmann, Max Steiner, Ennio Morricone, and John Williams have engraved iconic scenes into our collective memory with their extraordinary music, even if the rest of the movie might have faded.

Join popular speaker and concert pianist Rachel Franklin in a series that explores the stories behind some of the greatest film music ever composed. She considers the purpose of a fine score and how it both supports and transforms the film, so we frequently fall in love with the movie through the music.

Over four sessions, view fascinating film clips and discuss the role of the score in each, comparing our responses, and delving into the history and craft behind the composer’s work. Look at the role of the movie director, enjoy some Oscar-winning sounds, and share great movie trivia. Fasten your seatbelts…it’s going to be a fabulous ride!

Please Note: Individual sessions are available for individual purchase.

OCT 17  Getting Under Our Skin

"A great film score gets under your skin, triggers your subconscious, enhances the drama and helps drive the emotional power train of the movie."—Director Alan Parker

While we frequently don’t notice the music underpinning the movie, our response to it is pretty much universal. Our pulse can race, we get goose bumps, our stomachs churn, our tear ducts fill: Listening to film music is a very physical business. Build some listening expertise by examining our own reactions to movie music, and defining some of the many different aspects and uses of a great score.

Films include Jaws, Laura, and The Third Man.

OCT 24  Humor, Romance, History: It’s All in the Mind

One person’s comedy could be another’s cringe. Romance is a highly individual experience. How does a composer create a sense of time and place in an historically based story without embarrassing cliches? These genres require extraordinary skill in composing music that convinces every viewer their reactions aren’t being tastelessly manipulated.

Films include The Madness of King George, Chicken Run, and Dr. Zhivago.

NOV 7  Westerns: "A Steppe Is a Steppe!"

So declared the charismatic, Ukrainian-born pianist-composer Dmitri Tiomkin. The  Russian word means "a vast, treeless plain," and Tiomkin used his roots to create evocative musical images of America’s wide-open spaces. However, he wasn’t the first. That honor belongs to Aaron Copland, who built an entire compositional  language to encapsulate those landscapes sonically. Copland and other sons of immigrants from Eastern Europe reated the mighty West in music, but this rip-roaring tradition underwent a massive cultural sea change after the arrival of Italian “Spaghetti” Westerns. In following the history of the Western movie score, we’re observing the history of America itself.

Films include The Red Pony, High Noon, and The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

NOV 14  Five Great Masterpieces

Max Steiner, Bernard Herrmann, Elmer Bernstein, Jerry Goldsmith, and John Williams are among of our greatest movie composers, artists whose works continue to grace screens large and small today. Franklin considers a memorable film score by each of these masters, discussing the elements that make their music so exceptional and influential in the development of movie scoring techniques.

Films include To Kill a Mockingbird, Psycho, and Planet of the Apes.

British-born Franklin has been a featured speaker for organizations including the Library of Congress and heard on NPR, exploring intersections among classical and jazz music, film scores, and the fine arts.

4 sessions

Photo caption (upper right): Rachel Franklin

Patron Information

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This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.