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Classical scores tha evoke filmic fantasy


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Hello.

I was wondering what classical scores would you recommend that have a fantasy/fairy-tale quality which resemble film scores for fantasy films.

They don't have to be strictly music with a fantasy theme. i was talking more of orchestration and texture..

Some that i have already in mind:

-most of Stravinsky (especially rite of spring and Firebird)

-bartok (wooden prince, miraculous mandarin)

-ravel (Daphnis and Chloe)

-Respighi (roman trilogy)

-most of debussy orchestral works

-prokofiev (scythian suite)

-Dukas (sorcerer's apprentice)

Does anyone have other suggestions? perhaps from some unknown composers?

I'm especially interested in finding also atmospheric slow passages in these works (eg. for an imaginary scene of a child searching in a magical forest)

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Some Mahler, Dvorak (especiall the 9th and the tone poems), lots of Strauss (Richard, not the waltz Straußes). Wagner's operas, obviously (there are well-known orchestral suites, but they absolutely fall short of the actual operas). Anything by Bruckner and Sibelius. Definitely some Ralph Vaughan Williams, too.

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I don't listen to much classical music, but there are some passages from Holst's The Planets that might invoke those feelings.

oh yes, i forgot about that too.. this is what I'm talking about.

Anything by Bruckner and Sibelius. Definitely some Ralph Vaughan Williams, too.

Some specific suggestions from these composers? I haven't heard many things from them..

another that came in mind: Poeme del'extase (Scriabin)

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Bruckner: The best place to start, in my opinion, is always the 4th symphony. It's "just" a regular, program-less symphony nowadays, but for the premiere, as usual for its time, Bruckner provided a programme outline full of stuff like medieval towns and knights. There are plenty of great recordings, and, as always with Bruckner, lots of worthless ones (including plenty by major conductors). In my opinion, the final minutes of Celibidache's Munich recording are THE best bit of music ever put on record, but because of its unusually slow tempos, I wouldn't recommend it for Bruckner newbies. Instead, I recommend Günter Wand's recording with the Berlin Philharmonic (he recorded the work with many different orchestras, but Berlin gets my vote). The opening solo horn is one of the best I've heard.

Sibelius: He did lots of programmatic writing, classic favourites being Finlandia and the Karelia suite. If you can find this set for a good price somewhere, I absolutely recommend it. Great recordings of all the symphonies and tons of other stuff. I'm also partial to the original full version of the Karelia music, which is where several of his separate concert pieces found on that set are taken from, but I think there's only one recording of it, and the revised Finlandia is better. His violin concerto is also lovely, Williams copied the violin's opening statement, rearranged for choir, for ESB's Cloud City approach.

Ralph Vaughan Williams: He actually did write film music. His Sinfonia Antartica is based on his film score for Scott of the Antarctic. The first two symphonies, A Sea Symphony and A London Symphony, have a strong narrative/visual component, too. And then there's the fabulous Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, which isn't programmatic, but the most atmospherically ethereal bit of British string writing you're likely to find. This box (you should be able to find it cheaper, I think; I paid €20 for mine several years ago) is excellent and has one of the best versions of the Tallis Fantasia, though for a top London Symphony I'd recommend the Hickox LSO version, which is a recording of the symphony's original version before (even though Bernard Herrmann tried to intervene) RVW shortened it.

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-most of Stravinsky (especially rite of spring and Firebird)

That was my first thought. :) It's a big part of why I like them so much.

I'll second what you said about Ralph Vaughan Williams, Marian. I haven't listened to nearly enough of his work, but I really like what I hear, and it could almost be film music - although in a completely different way from Stravinsky.

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Although there are not yet many replies in this thread, most composers and/or compositions that immediately sprung to my mind have already been mentioned, but I must definitely add Eine Alpensinfonie, I think a great movie could've been shot to this amazing musical mountain hike.

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I mentioned Strauss, but yes, Eine Alpensinfonie deserves a special recommendation. And as always I have to cite the gorgeous Kempe/Dresden recording as probably the greatest of all. Yet another one that's part of a box set; 9 discs, tons of Strauss orchestral works, including all the tone poems (it claims to be complete, but most of these box sets that do so aren't). Used to be on EMI, but has been on Brilliant Classics at bargain price for several years now.

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"Danse Macabre" - Camille Saint-Saens

"Carnival of the Animals: Aquarium" - Camille Saint-Saens

"Dance Of The Prince & The Sugar Plum Fairy" (not to be confused with "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," which would also work) - Peter Tchaikovsky

"Serenada Schizophrana: Pianos" - Danny Elfman

"Incantation and Dance" - John Barnes Chance

"Requiem Mass In D Minor" - Wolfgang Mozart

I also second "Scheherezade."

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Mahler's Symphony No. 6 recalls darker fantasies in the vein of Lord of the Rings.

I'm also partial to his 1st, 2nd and 5th symphonies. Korngold clearly learned some stuff from Mahler - and Puccini and Strauss; some bits in Der Rosenkavalier strongly suggest Adventures of Robin Hood.

Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker is another wonderful fantasy candidate with special emphasis on "The Waltz of the Snowflakes."

The preceding piece (in the ballet, it's probably not part of the suite, but I don't have that), "usually entitled either Journey Through the Snow or A Pine Forest in Winter" (according to Wikipedia), has an awesomely film-like climax.

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The choir in Waltz of the Snowflakes, in the best recording, is bar none the most magical piece of musical I can think of. Hypnotic.

But yes, the preceding piece has a great climax, and I just checked with the wife, it is usually not included as part of the Waltz of the Snowflakes suite, but precedes it as the forest scene.

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Yes, from his Sleeping Beauty ballet.

Speaking of ballet, Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet is exceedingly film-like. With its leitmotific construction, it actually manages to actively tell a story, in quite a bit of detail. There's a wonderful staging that gets performed occasionally at Vienna's State Opera, and it's more like a silent movie than anything else. No comparison to the Tchaikovsky stagings I've seen so far, which managed to bore me despite the music - they seem to consist of a thin story framework filled with an endless number of endless dance set pieces. Whereas Prokofiev has a plot all through the entire work.

Also not forgotten should be Mussorgsky's Night on a Bare Mountain and Berlioz' Symphonie fantastique (with the famous Dies Irae based witch's sabbath at the end).

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Bruckner: The best place to start, in my opinion, is always the 4th symphony. It's "just" a regular, program-less symphony nowadays, but for the premiere, as usual for its time, Bruckner provided a programme outline full of stuff like medieval towns and knights. There are plenty of great recordings, and, as always with Bruckner, lots of worthless ones (including plenty by major conductors). In my opinion, the final minutes of Celibidache's Munich recording are THE best bit of music ever put on record, but because of its unusually slow tempos, I wouldn't recommend it for Bruckner newbies. Instead, I recommend Günter Wand's recording with the Berlin Philharmonic (he recorded the work with many different orchestras, but Berlin gets my vote). The opening solo horn is one of the best I've heard.

Sibelius: He did lots of programmatic writing, classic favourites being Finlandia and the Karelia suite. If you can find this set for a good price somewhere, I absolutely recommend it. Great recordings of all the symphonies and tons of other stuff. I'm also partial to the original full version of the Karelia music, which is where several of his separate concert pieces found on that set are taken from, but I think there's only one recording of it, and the revised Finlandia is better. His violin concerto is also lovely, Williams copied the violin's opening statement, rearranged for choir, for ESB's Cloud City approach.

Ralph Vaughan Williams: He actually did write film music. His Sinfonia Antartica is based on his film score for Scott of the Antarctic. The first two symphonies, A Sea Symphony and A London Symphony, have a strong narrative/visual component, too. And then there's the fabulous Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, which isn't programmatic, but the most atmospherically ethereal bit of British string writing you're likely to find. This box (you should be able to find it cheaper, I think; I paid €20 for mine several years ago) is excellent and has one of the best versions of the Tallis Fantasia, though for a top London Symphony I'd recommend the Hickox LSO version, which is a recording of the symphony's original version before (even though Bernard Herrmann tried to intervene) RVW shortened it.

Thank you very much for all the detailed information.

I listened to Fantasia on a theme by Tallis. It was excellent!! (although not in the vein of what i'm looking for).

I'm looking for large orchestrations with celestas, harps,etc which lean towards fantasy..To be more specific, classical works that could be used in films like Ridley's Scott Legend, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth etc..

but I'm sure i'll find something in all the works you ALL mentioned here.. ;)

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He's a bit modern, but Alan Hovhaness's "Mysterious Mountain" symphony feels very cinematic. Heck, most of his work on his "Mysterious Mountain/And God Created Great Whales" CD feels that way. Of course, he's a more modern composer and he'd scored films before, so...

I also second Berlioz's "Dream of a Witches' Sabbath" or "Symphonie Fantastique #5". I fell in love with that piece a few years ago during a college music course, and it feels very cinematic.

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Marian confirms his excellent taste in classical music. Kudos to you! :)

I would add some of John Adams' orchestral pieces (Harmonielehre and Naive and Sentimental Music are very cinematic) and probably all of Debussy's symphonic works (esp. the Nocturnes, La Mer and Images). And don't forget Ravel!

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Marian confirms his excellent taste in classical music. Kudos to you! :)

And I'm trying to limit myself here. ;)

I would add some of John Adams' orchestral pieces (Harmonielehre and Naive and Sentimental Music are very cinematic)

Ah, Adams. Not exactly "fantasy" material, but if you like Davis' Matrix scores, at least stuff like Harmonielehre should appeal to you. And even more so some of Aaron J. Kernis' works, Symphony in Waves in particular. With some editing, you could probably create a quite accurate temp score for Matrix from Adams and Kernis.

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A few things come to mind.

Erich Korngold's Symphony in F. The 2nd and 3rd movements in particular. The 2nd is a brilliant whirlwind scherzo that only lets up to get interrupted by a heroic theme for the horn. Simply electrifying from beginning to end. As for the 3rd movement, if you're looking for music that evokes a child lost in a magical forest, then look no further then this.

Samuel Barber's First Symphony. This is actually all written to be one continuous movement so some recordings reflect that while others break it up across multiple tracks. What may be of particular interest to you is the slow 3rd section, which begins with an achingly beautiful oboe solo over strings that would also be a good candidate for that lost in the magical wilderness sound. While we're on the subject of Barber, if you aren't familiar with his Overture to School for Scandal, then definitely check it out as well. It's a brisk and exciting work with a slower section toward the end that has one of the most instantly singable themes I've ever heard.

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A few things come to mind.

Erich Korngold's Symphony in F. The 2nd and 3rd movements in particular. The 2nd is a brilliant whirlwind scherzo that only lets up to get interrupted by a heroic theme for the horn. Simply electrifying from beginning to end. As for the 3rd movement, if you're looking for music that evokes a child lost in a magical forest, then look no further then this.

Samuel Barber's First Symphony. This is actually all written to be one continuous movement so some recordings reflect that while others break it up across multiple tracks. What may be of particular interest to you is the slow 3rd section, which begins with an achingly beautiful oboe solo over strings that would also be a good candidate for that lost in the magical wilderness sound. While we're on the subject of Barber, if you aren't familiar with his Overture to School for Scandal, then definitely check it out as well. It's a brisk and exciting work with a slower section toward the end that has one of the most instantly singable themes I've ever heard.

Thank you! i just listened to Barber's overture. well i can see now the influence on Williams.

(By the way, does anyone happen to have the full score pdfs to the Barber pieces?)

Anything by Elgar? haven't heard much of him and i think he is among Williams' favourites..

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You can get access to just about everything by Barber using the free Schirmer on Demand, which is basically G. Schirmer's online score perusal service. Go to http://digital.schirmer.com/ and follow the directions and you should have unlimited access to a ton of great stuff including a lot of John Corgliano's works as well as Elfman's Serenada Schitzophrenia.

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You can get access to just about everything by Barber using the free Schirmer on Demand, which is basically G. Schirmer's online score perusal service. Go to http://digital.schirmer.com/ and follow the directions and you should have unlimited access to a ton of great stuff including a lot of John Corgliano's works as well as Elfman's Serenada Schitzophrenia.

Oh, thank you so much!! I didn't know that! and it's complete free? hard to imagine!

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Anything by Elgar? haven't heard much of him and i think he is among Williams' favourites..

Not a big Elgar fan, but Nimrod from Enigma Variations is wonderfully grand. Cockaigne (In London Town) has quite film score like dynamics, in my opinion. And the scherzo of his 1st symphony could have been an inspiration for the Imperial March.

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Thank you very much for all the detailed information.

I listened to Fantasia on a theme by Tallis. It was excellent!! (although not in the vein of what i'm looking for).

I'm looking for large orchestrations with celestas, harps,etc which lean towards fantasy..To be more specific, classical works that could be used in films like Ridley's Scott Legend, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth etc..

but I'm sure i'll find something in all the works you ALL mentioned here.. ;)

If you're interested in sampling "Aquarium" from Carnival of the Animals, it can be heard with almost no SFX in

trailer for Benjamin Button. Just keep in mind that the actual piece does not include the choir.
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Just listened to Barber's "Fadograph of a Yestern Scene"!

Don't know what the title means, but this is what i have in mind generally..

i think i'll be listening to the Barber complete works first..

Only knew the Adagio until now (which happens to be my favourite piece of classical music ever)

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You can get access to just about everything by Barber using the free Schirmer on Demand, which is basically G. Schirmer's online score perusal service. Go to http://digital.schirmer.com/ and follow the directions and you should have unlimited access to a ton of great stuff including a lot of John Corgliano's works as well as Elfman's Serenada Schitzophrenia.

Oh, thank you so much!! I didn't know that! and it's complete free? hard to imagine!

Yup, totally free. A really nice service they provide and something I wish more publishers would pick up on.

As for Barber if you're looking to really dig into his catalog I'd say there really aren't any duds to be found. However (and I base this on absolutely nothing but the nature of your original request) I would shy away from his Second Symphony and his Essays for Orchestra. All great pieces, but far more modernist in their approach. Some others of his work that may interest your are his Summer Music and Medea and certainly give his First Symphony a listen all the way through.

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Ralph Vaughan Williams: He actually did write film music. His Sinfonia Antartica is based on his film score for Scott of the Antarctic. The first two symphonies, A Sea Symphony and A London Symphony, have a strong narrative/visual component, too.

RVW is one of my favourite composers and certainly, Sinfonia Antartica is one of my favourite and most listened-to CDs of all time. For my taste, music simply doesn't get any better sounding and written than in this symphony. So I was also completely overjoyed when Chandos released the original soundtrack re-recording of Scott of the Antarctic (click). Such amazing music, and I remember that the full score of Sinfonia Antartica has been very hard to get, and also quite expensive. A London Symphony is similarly beautiful, I especially recommend this recording.

And WOW, I just discovered this, I'm definitely adding it to my next Amazon order! bowdown

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You can get access to just about everything by Barber using the free Schirmer on Demand, which is basically G. Schirmer's online score perusal service. Go to http://digital.schirmer.com/ and follow the directions and you should have unlimited access to a ton of great stuff including a lot of John Corgliano's works as well as Elfman's Serenada Schitzophrenia.

Oh, thank you so much!! I didn't know that! and it's complete free? hard to imagine!

Yup, totally free. A really nice service they provide and something I wish more publishers would pick up on.

As for Barber if you're looking to really dig into his catalog I'd say there really aren't any duds to be found. However (and I base this on absolutely nothing but the nature of your original request) I would shy away from his Second Symphony and his Essays for Orchestra. All great pieces, but far more modernist in their approach. Some others of his work that may interest your are his Summer Music and Medea and certainly give his First Symphony a listen all the way through.

thanks! I'm just listening Music for a scene from shelley and it's in the same style I was looking for..

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You can get access to just about everything by Barber using the free Schirmer on Demand, which is basically G. Schirmer's online score perusal service. Go to http://digital.schirmer.com/ and follow the directions and you should have unlimited access to a ton of great stuff including a lot of John Corgliano's works as well as Elfman's Serenada Schitzophrenia.

Oh, thank you so much!! I didn't know that! and it's complete free? hard to imagine!

There is one lousy caveat: each score is limited to only ten views. To answer the topic, though, you might want to try Nino Rota's Castel del Monte (or almost any other piece on this wonderful disk). Some of the more wistful passages might remind you of "Sean's Theme".

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Basically all works of Debussy and Ravel are very imaginative and colorful and very "cinematic". It doesn't surprise at all that modern film composers frequently use their "impressionist" musical language (they didn't really like such label themselves), mixed with late romantic style (Richard Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov etc.) and modernism (Stravinsky and others).

My favorite works: La mer (the Sea) of Debussy and Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé. You can hear their influence in several scores of John Williams and others.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFy3tPt2Il8

The sunrise in Daphnis et Chloé (after 38:40) is one of the most moving moments in the history of symphonic music. It's a pure gem.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUS1VOh-aIw

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Wagnerian Opera is the epitome of all classical music that evokes filmic fantasy. There are none higher.

For those who don't like opera, look no further than Berlioz... "Symphonie Fantastique". It has everything. I would also add from Holst's Planets, specifically Neptune the Mystic.

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