Movies and music go way back — back, even, to the era of silent films, when music, provided by any performance outfit, from a full orchestra to a humble upright piano player, constituted the only accompanying sound of any kind. Often, kids who begin choosing music for themselves (at least this held for the kids of my generation) start with movie soundtracks, since they’ll usually have done at least a little filmgoing before they come to life as consumers of recorded sound. And modern soundtracks, so often composed in whole or in part of orchestral pieces, also offer a non-intimidating entrée into the wide world of classical music.
Movies and the City of Prague Orchestra also go way back. Founded in the 1940s as the Film Symphony Orchestra, in-house orchestra of Barrandov Film Studios, it eventually went its own way as the Czech Symphony Orchestra, and it has worked, post-Velvet Revolution, under the name we know it by today. We know that name because of the sheer amount of music the City of Prague Orchestra plays, doing 250 recording sessions every year for not just classical albums but a variety of other media as well, including television shows, video games, ringtones, and especially movies. Today we’ve rounded up a variety of albums on Spotify (whose free software you can download here) that collect the City of Prague Orchestra’s work with movie music, which spans scores they first laid down themselves to their interpretations of classic favorites.
First, in celebration of the recent continuation of the Star Wars saga with its new seventh film, the City of Prague Orchestra plays the music from the first six. But if you prefer a different sort of space odyssey, have a listen to the playlist just above featuring, the music from the films of Stanley Kubrick, who said that he didn’t need to commission new music for his pictures, since he could hardly do better than simply using the finest classical pieces already in existence — which, as anyone who’s seen 2001 knows, he could use suitably indeed. Below, you can hear the Orchestra take on selections from the work of Tim Burton and Martin Scorsese, auteurs well known for their visual inventiveness.
If you enjoy all of those, much more awaits your ears on Spotify from the City of Prague Orchestra’s cinematic catalogue, including playlists of music from the films of Steven Spielberg, whose big Hollywood visions depend on their scores for a good deal of their impact; of music from pictures starring iconic actors like John Wayne, Paul Newman, and Johnny Depp; of the pieces that have given the James Bond series their signature (sometimes so-uncool-it’s-cool) cool; and even of orchestral work from a swath of Italian film, including movies like La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2, and of course, Cinema Paradiso. If we find the cinema a paradise, after all, that owes as much to the music we’ve heard there as the visions we’ve seen there.
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.