The Greatest Individual Film Scores

Soundtracks convey the soul of a film. Here are some of greatest scores every composed and orchestrated.

The Breaking of the Fellowship – Howard Shore – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

The rising crescendo of the orchestra brilliantly builds into the theme of the Fellowship and just keeps rising, finishing serenely with a flute and vocal solo, respectively. I get chills every time.

Main Theme from Schindler’s List – John Williams – Schindler’s List

Itzhak Perlman has a unique ability to play the violin like no other. His performance makes the Main Theme from Schindler’s List one of the greatest single scores ever created. Credit is also due to John Williams for first writing this song on piano. Both the piano and violin adaptations are equally and chillingly beautiful. The melody, is one of the most distinct scores. The melody incarnates the sorrow of the darkest epoch in the history of humanity

Love Theme (A Time for Us) -Andre Rieu – Romeo and Juliet

There are few songs more timeless and enduring that the theme from the 1968 adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The violinist Andre Rieu’s composition of “A Time for Us” is perhaps the greatest rendition to date. The tragic grandeur of this piece  encapsulates what it means to be human, what it feels like to fall in love.

Lucy Meets Mr. Tumnus – Harry Gregson Williams – The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

This song defines the childlike innocence of Narnia. Imagine sitting inside a cozy cottage by the last embers of the hearth as this melody faintly echoes through the wintry forests of a distant land.

I’m Sending You Away – M83 – Oblivion

If there is anything that defines the word transcendent, it’s this track. It’s ethereal, otherworldly, metaphysical.

For the World – Tan Dun/Itzhak Perlman – Hero

The trembling vibrato of Perlman’s violin pairs profoundly with a distinct traditionally sounding Chinese melody that soothingly ebbs and flows.

May it be –  Enya – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

The Irish have a unique ability to speak to the soul through their esoteric, mystical and timeless melodies. This track defines a serenity. A serenity that will come after the eschatological advent of our cosmological journey

Freedom/The Execution/Bannockburn  & End Credits – James Horner – Braveheart

Braveheart is a towering commemoration of freedom and sacrifice, even for those of us who reject that freedom is worth killing for. The film is flawed in its idealization of the past, its revision of history and its over indulgence in violence. However the compelling story guided along by perhaps the greatest score ever written, make Braveheart one of the greatest films of our time, one that will maintain an enduring legacy thanks to the compositional ingenuity of James Horner.

Hymn to the sea – James Horner – Titanic

Although, for some, Jack and Rose’s romance may seem contrived, the Titanic score by the recently departed James Horner, is hardly so and will remain one for the ages. The Uilean Pipes convey the soul that only Celtic instruments can.

Time – Hans Zimmer – Inception

This pulsating and ever rising track crashes relentlessly over the ears, not unlike the waves crashing against the rocks in the opening scene of Inception.

Across the Stars: Love Theme – John Williams – Star Wars: The Attack of the Clones

It’s seems appropriate for a song about a love that change the galaxy to be entitle “Across the Stars.” This composition can hold its own over against even some of the greatest classical compositions from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to The Blue Danube Waltz by Strauss.

A Way of Life – Hans Zimmer – The Last Samurai

There is a serene beauty in this track that invokes an elysian sense of tranquil bliss and introspection.

Duel of the Fates – John Williams – Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

The “Duel of the Fates” is a pure masterpiece.  One of the finest compositions of John Williams. It has become a classic and will remain so indefinitely. Only a piece as epic as this one could fit the

A Gift of a Thistle – James Horner – Braveheart

There is very little I can say to describe the profound beauty here.

No Time for Caution  & Dust – Hans Zimmer – Interstellar

The OST for Interstellar may be the greatest single score of all time (Apart from either Braveheart or LOTR). The various tracks from Interstellar are the kinds that capture the soul of a movie, defining it as much as the story itself. It sets the tone for the duration of the movie. Hans Zimmer tapped into something with Interstellar’s OST that reaches into the depths of what it means to be human. His creative and brilliant use of organs throughout the film, makes it an even more impressive feat.

Honor Him/Elysium/Now we are free – Hans Zimmer – Gladiator

Grand. Gorgeous. Gladiator.

Battle of the Heroes – John Williams – Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith

A fitting track to this grand and climactic scene.

From the Western Woods to Beaversdam – Harry Gregson Williams: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The evolving dynamics of this song make for a shimmering combination of excitement, foreboding and wonder.

Anakin’s Betrayal – John Williams – Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith

If Star Wars is a space opera, songs like this effectively capture the intended drama of the tale without becoming overly melodramatic.

 

The Burning Bush – Hans Zimmer – The Prince of Egypt

It’s no accident that Hans Zimmer has made this list numerous times. This song keeps my love for the Old Testament stories alive.

Love Theme (From BladeRunner) – Vangelis – Blade Runner

The pairing of a sensual saxophone and oceanic synths is an unusual choice for a dystopian cult classic, but the musical brilliance of Vangelis is what made Blade Runner the towering film that it remains to this day. There are numerous stand our tracks from the Blade Runner OST, but the “Love Theme” may be the most memorable.

Heartbeat to a Gunshot – Angelo Badalamenti – A Very Long Engagement

The ambient and vibrant dialectical pairing of violins and trembling synths create a gentle, yet soulful track that tugs on the heartstrings, capturing the restless solemnity of Mattilde and Manech’s enduring love for each other, torn apart by war.

Forth Eorlingas – Howard Shore – LOTR – The Two Towers

Magisterial.

A Small Measure of Peace – Hans Zimmer – The Last Samurai

‘There is a peace that all of us seek, but few find.’

Honorable Mentions:

Evacuating London

Emotions just seep from this track. The second half is pure chills.

Mountains – Hans Zimmer – Interstellar

The track matched the scene in the movie to perfection. You can feel the foreboding sense of impending danger as the relentless tick tock rises and rises into a thunderous cascade of grandiose synths.

The Battle Song – Harry Gregson Williams – The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

I’m not a fan of overly dramatic songs built against the backdrop of war. War is not something music should aggrandize or glorify, but this track is beautiful nonetheless. The  variety of melodic alternations that take place throughout the song give in a diversity that is refreshing. Each successive section of the track expresses the shifts in the story as the listener is transported to the fields of Narnia.

Brothers in Arms – Junkie XL – Mad Max: Fury Road

The urgency and relentless nature of this film is captured well in this track. An exciting and invigorating listen that never bores or slows. As the track progresses it becomes surprisingly melodic.

 

 

 

 

 

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