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The Film Score: Celebrating Music in Film

The Film Score: Celebrating Music in Film

The Film Score, hosted by Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips, explores Oscar-winning music, as well as compositions that were nominated but did not win, and a handful of themes that surprisingly did not receive a nomination.

Michael Phillips

Michael Phillips

February 28: David Raksin’s “The Bad and the Beautiful”

We arrive at the essence of self-aggrandizing, self-mythologizing Hollywood: David Raksin’s brilliant score for the Vincente Minnelli melodrama The Bad and the Beautiful. Plus: Bill Evans’ unforgettable solo piano version of Raksin’s theme.

February 27: Franz Waxman

Sunset Boulevard owes much of its velvety, sinister quality to the musical score by Franz Waxman. Today we dine out on Waxman’s feast of Hollywood glamour and corruption.

February 26: Ennio Morricone

The Italian maestro behind Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns and so much more is up for an Oscar this year, thanks to his Hateful Eight score. All hail the likely winner Ennio Morricone!

Feburary 25: John Williams

You’d need more than one segment to pay proper tribute to John Williams. But here’s a taste of his latest Oscar-nominated film score: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, plus a taste of his other work.

Feburary 24: Johann Johannsson’s “Sicario”

Today we continue our segments devoted to this year’s Oscar-nominated film composers with menacing music from Johann Johannsson, who gave the drug cartel thriller Sicario its particular aura of danger.

Feburary 23: Thomas Newman

Thomas Newman’s family is Hollywood musical royalty. We hear selections from the Oscar-nominated composer of Bridge of Spies.

Feburary 22: Carter Burwell

Today we feature the Oscar-nominated composer of Carol and (even better) Anomalisa .

Feburary 21: Dario Marianelli’s Atonement

Dario Marianelli’s score for Atonement made use of a percussion instrument rarely heard on screen: the typewriter.

Feburary 20: Miklos Rozsa

He won an Oscar for Spellbound, among others, but Miklos Rozsa’s finest moment on film may have been this nerve-wracking waltz from Madame Bovary.

February 19: Jerry Goldsmith

When Jerry Goldsmith was hired to write a 10-day replacement score for Chinatown, he came up with a modern classic. We compare the one we know to the one most people haven’t heard. Plus: Goldsmith’s Planet of the Apes.

February 18: Jane Austen and the Alien

Contemporary female film composers are a criminally small group. Music from Oscar winner Rachel Portman, Lesley Barber and Mica Levi.

February 17: There Will Be Blood

One of the great film composition achievements of the 21st Century was disqualified for Academy Awards consideration. Listen to Jonny Greenwood’s There Will Be Blood suite and tell me if he was robbed or not.

February 16: Jazz

In a segment almost too cool for human ears, we glide from Sweet Smell of Success to Elevator to the Gallows to Anatomy of a Murder to Breathless in this salute to jazz film scoring par excellence.

February 15: Aaron Copland

Aaron Copland’s Oscar-winning and nominated scores include Of Mice and Men, Our Town and The Heiress. Eternally moving film music from an American giant.

February 14: Ratatouille

Just in time for Valentine’s Day: music evoking the romance and allure of Paris from a street-level perspective, and from the great Michael Giacchino score accompanying Ratatouille.

February 13: Nino Rota

The great Nino Rota’s Godfather theme was mighty familiar… plus, we remember Amarcord.

February 12: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Oscar-winning music to make you distrust everyone around you: Trent Reznor’s The Social Network, plus a cut from Gone Girl.

February 11: Dmitri Tiomkin

His film career got a boost from an “Eastern,” i.e. Lost Horizon. But Dimitri Tiomkin made his name on Western after Western, including today’s little-known “Film Score” highlight.

February 10: Victor Young and Michael Giacchino

Victor Young’s famous waltz from Around the World in 80 Days came first. But another Oscar winner, Michael Giacchino’s main theme from Up, may have one-upped its own inspiration.

February 9: Bernard Herrmann (Part 2)

Hear why the Concerto Macabre from the little-known 1945 potboiler Hangover Square inspired Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.

February 8: 1960

Exodus. Spartacus. The Magnificent Seven. All from 1960 releases—talk about an epic year for epic film themes!

February 7: The Grand Budapest Hotel

A recent Oscar winner, Alexandre Desplat’s beguiling score for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” continues WFMT’s exploration of the sound of cinema.

February 6: Laura

It took a heartbreaking “Dear John” letter for composer David Raksin to come up with the theme from Laura.

February 5: David Shire

Has a film composer ever written two more wildly different (and Oscar un-nominated!) themes in the same year? Next stop, “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” and “The Conversation,” from David Shire.

February 4: The Sound of Funny

We treat you to a pair of 1963 comedy themes, “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” and “Tom Jones.” Know which one won the Oscar?

February 3: Bernard Herrmann (Part 1)

Bernard Herrmann created scores for “Vertigo” and “Psycho.” This episode digs into his scores for “Citizen Kane” and “The Devil and Daniel Webster.”

February 2: Korngold’s Robin Hood

Eric Wolfgang Korngold, who was inspired by Mahler, Strauss, and Puccini, claimed that composing the score for The Adventures of Robin Hood ended up saving his life.

February 1: Music of Max Steiner

King Kong may be Max Steiner’s most famous early film score, but he won the second-ever Oscar for original score of a 1935 picture. Find out which one in today’s episode.