Film & TV

Film & TV

There is so much classical music in movies and TV programmes. You have probably heard a lot more music than you realise! To have a TV programme or a film without any music at all would be very strange. Even when the cinema first started and it could show only pictures – no sound – there used to be somebody playing the piano, making up music to match the mood of whatever was happening on the screen. Otherwise, the whole thing isn’t so interesting or exciting. Over the years, composers have provided a lot of brand new music for movies and TV programmes.

Do You Know?

Do You Know?

See if you can answer the questions below!

 For the first 35 years of cinema (1894–1829), films had no recorded sound – they were silent! Which instrument was often played in the cinema to accompany a film?

a. Flute
b. Saxophone
c. Piano

 What was the only instrument Anton Karas used in his famous, chart-topping score for The Third Man?

a. Xylophone
b. Piano
c. Zither

 Which composer has received the most Oscar nominations ever for Best Original Score?

a. Hans Zimmer
b. John Williams
c. James Horner

Play More Music!

Play More Music!

Listen to more tracks and works featured in Film & TV.

Film & TV


Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897–1957): Captain Blood

The film Captain Blood was released in 1935 – it began the whole tradition of romantic Hollywood film music! Erich Wolfgang Korngold had come to Hollywood from Vienna and he was asked to write new music for the movie. It is a swashbuckling adventure.

Performers: Brandenburg Philharmonic Orchestra; Richard Kaufman

Taken from Naxos 8.557704


Henry Mancini (1924–1994): Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Moon River

Henry Mancini was such a successful composer of music for the screen that he won four Oscars and was nominated for eighteen! Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a famous film from 1961 starring the beautiful Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly. The film score won an Oscar, and this song, ‘Moon River’, won an Oscar all of its own for Best Original Song.

Performers: Richard Hayman Orchestra; Richard Hayman

Taken from Naxos 8.557825


Henry Mancini (1924–1994): The Pink Panther

This is another of Henry Mancini’s most famous film scores. The cheeky music fits perfectly the comedy about a jewel thief, and makes us think of the cartoon pink panther shown before the film begins and after it finishes.

Performers: Richard Hayman Orchestra; Richard Hayman

Taken from Naxos 8.557825


Miklós Rósza (1907–1995): Spellbound Concerto

Spellbound is a film by the famous director Alfred Hitchcock. Rósza’s music includes the spooky sounds of a weird instrument called the theremin, invented in in 1920 by a Russian scientist.

Performers: Philip Fowke, piano; RTÉ Concert Orchestra; Proinnsías Ó Duinn

Taken from Naxos 8.554323


Howard Shore (b. 1946): The Lord of the Rings – The 2 Towers: Suite

Howard Shore worked in pop music before making his name with film scores. He worked on The Lord of the Rings score for three years.

Performers: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; Carl Davis

Taken from Naxos 8.570505


Max Steiner (1888–1971): The Three Muskateers

There are several films of Alexandre Dumas’s famous The Three Muskateers. This one was made in 1935, and, although the film is not one of the best, Max Steiner’s music is brilliant.

Performers: Brandenburg Philharmonic Orchestra; Richard Kaufman

Taken from Naxos 8.557704

John Williams (b.1932)
John Williams (b. 1932): Raiders of the Lost Ark

John Williams has written so many fantastic film scores right up to the present day. Raiders of the Lost Ark is an adventure film from 1981 directed by Steven Spielberg.

Performers: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; Carl Davis

Taken from Naxos 8.570505

John Williams (b.1932)
John Williams (b. 1932): Schindler’s List

This heartrending music with its solo violin helped to tell a difficult story of Polish-Jewish refugees during the Second World War. The film was directed by Steven Spielberg and the score won the composer John Williams an Oscar.

Performers: Thelma Handy, violin; Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; Carl Davis

Taken from Naxos 8.570505

John Williams (b.1932)
John Williams (b. 1932): Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

John Williams was also behind the music for a famous boy wizard…

Performers: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; Carl Davis

Taken from Naxos 8.570505


Hans Zimmer (b. 1957): Gladiator

Hans Zimmer is a successful and talented film composer, who has a wide range of styles and knows exactly how to make music that fits a film. This track contains different sections from his exciting film music for Gladiator, which is full of big battle scenes!

Performers: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; Carl Davis

Taken from Naxos 8.570505