Film scores have the power to transport us to a key moment in time. It might be the first time we saw a particular movie but, more often, it is an emotional, nostalgic epiphany – a recollection of what that particular score has come to symbolise in our lives.
Classic FM's annual Movie Music Hall of Fame poll asks listeners to vote for their favourite, most evocative film music, with the results revealed in Radio Times magazine on Tuesday 6th September.
The top 20 will then be counted down in a special edition of Saturday Night at the Movies, hosted by Radio Times Film Editor and Classic FM presenter Andrew Collins on Saturday 10th September from 5pm on Classic FM, so you can enjoy the full sweep of the nation's best-loved scores.
To give you some inspiration in making your choice, we've asked Classic FM hosts and Radio Times writers to each share their single favourite film score, telling us just what it means to them.
Pride and Prejudice by Dario Marianelli
"It has to be Dario Marianelli’s score for Pride and Prejudice which is the most wonderfully evocative music. It conjures up images of Jane Austen's Hampshire so well. It is a place where I live and for that reason I have an especial fondness for it. It surprises me how fresh the score remains, in spite of the number of times I listen to it. It is wonderfully calming and Jean-Yves Thibaudet's piano playing is deliciously sensitive."
Alan hosts his own Saturday show from 7am to 10am
ET the Extra Terrestrial by John Williams
"Every time I hear the soundtrack to ET played, it instantly transports me to the magical time I first watched the movie and how it impacted me as a child. The music is exceptionally evocative and shows exactly just how powerful classical music really can be."
Myleene hosts Smooth Classics every Saturday and Sunday night from 10pm to 1am
Schindler’s List by John Williams
"It’s an achingly beautiful score by John Williams where music enhances the film at every moment. The theme is one of the most heart-wrenching tunes in all cinema. It has a magical ability to touch the soul."
Aled presents Sunday mornings from 7am to 10am
Murder on the Orient Express by Richard Rodney Bennett
"One of my favourite film soundtracks of all time is Richard Rodney Bennett's score for Murder on the Orient Express. It grows out of such sinister beginnings – the horror of the early murder episode is easily the scariest score I know (it makes The Omen sound like a madrigal) – but then it soars to such exhilaration and power. A spectacular soundtrack."
Alexander presents weekend afternoons from 1pm to 3pm
Dr Zhivago by Maurice Jarre
"The film soundtrack that I feel a strong emotional connection with is Maurice Jarre’s Oscar-winning score for David Lean’s epic romantic film, Dr Zhivago. The film deals with intense emotions and big themes, such as the triumph of the heart over the mind; Jarre’s music wonderfully reflects this. Whenever I hear Lara’s Theme, I immediately think of the deep and ultimately doomed love between Yuri and Lara, memorably portrayed by two physically beautiful actors, Omar Sharif and Julie Christie."
Charlotte hosts Charlotte Green’s Culture Club on Sundays from 3pm to 5pm
Cinema Paradiso by Ennio Morricone
"For me, it’s Cinema Paradiso. As soon as I hear the opening bars of Ennio Morricone’s wonderful music, I am in a small town in Sicily where a small boy helps the projectionist in the local cinema and falls under the spell of film."
John presents Classic FM’s flagship weekday morning show from 9am to 1pm
Love Actually by Craig Armstrong
"I’m a huge fan of the films of Richard Curtis and, in particular, Love Actually. The tunes are fantastic and you can tell it’s been chosen by someone who is really passionate about music. Part of the soundtrack is by the contemporary composer Craig Armstrong. I adore his music. I have to watch myself whenever I play his Glasgow Love Theme on Classic FM because right away I'm transported back to this film and there’s a danger of welling up on-air! Watching Love Actually is a Christmas tradition at home – there’s usually a glass or two of something involved and, for me only, a handkerchief close to hand which is never redundant."
Anne-Marie Minhall hosts weekday afternoons from 1pm to 5pm
The Crowd by Carl Davis
"Carl Davis has created some wonderful symphonic scores for classic silent movies, and one of my favourites is his music for King Vidor's bittersweet drama of 1928, The Crowd. It's the story of a young couple trying to make it in New York, and the intensely romantic, brooding title theme sweeps you into their lives. Lyrical, memorable, heart-breaking music to match a masterpiece of filmmaking."
Catherine presents The Full Works Concert on Thursday and Friday from 8pm to 10pm and Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Classical Music on Sunday from 9pm to 10pm.
The Piano by Michael Nyman
"There are few films where the soundtrack has to speak for a character – which Nyman’s music does for Ada (played by Holly Hunter), the self-imposed mute whose true voice is her piano playing. Nyman’s trademark minimalism is softened with lilting Scottish accents and romantic melodies to echo Ada’s thoughts and feelings. The emotional connection between music, character and cinematography is as powerful and compelling as Ada’s inner strength. Nyman has composed the perfect score for this brooding gothic masterpiece – and I love it!"
Jane presents The Full Works Concert from Monday to Wednesday from 8pm to 10pm
Dances with Wolves by John Barry
"I love John Barry's score to Dances with Wolves. The music is a joy to listen to in its own right and just stunning to hear alongside the incredible visuals of the film. The score adds such a powerful and emotional dimension to the story as well as giving a voice to the scene-stealing 'Two Socks'. At three hours long, four with Kevin Costner's directors cut, it’s epic and most deserving of the Academy Award and Grammy the score won John Barry."
Margherita presents Smooth Classics every weeknight from 10pm to 1am
The Magnificent Seven by Elmer Bernstein
"From the opening bars, the scene is well and truly set. The dust, the heat, the arid landscape, the heroes riding to the rescue of villagers menaced by bandits. You can’t hear the music without visualising the excitement and drama of one of the best Westerns of all time."
Nicholas presents Saturday afternoons from 3pm to 5pm
Jurassic Park by John Williams
"One of the best films ever made with one of the biggest, boldest and most anthemic scores to match. The perfect accompaniment to incredible scenes of majestic, jaw dropping, CGI dino-action – this is film music from the very top drawer. I even played it at my wedding… yes, you heard – it’s that good."
Tim Glanfield is editor of RadioTimes.com
North by Northwest by Bernard Herrmann
"Master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock may never have earned that title without his frequent collaborator Bernard Herrmann, who also composed the brilliant scores for Vertigo and Pyscho. In North by Northwest, he drags every instrument in the orchestra into a rumbling, swooping score to create intrigue, action and drama, as Cary Grant's ad man goes on the run following a case of mistaken identity..."
Paul Jones is deputy editor of RadioTimes.com
Vertigo by Bernard Herrmann
"Bernard Herrmann received no Academy Award nominations for any of the seven scores he wrote for Alfred Hitchcock — a fact as shocking as Psycho. His hypnotic and consummately Romantic music here surely must rank as the best borrowing of Wagner in all of film, reinvented with a certain 20th-century anxiety. "
David Oppedisano is a radio writer at Radio Times
Once upon a Time in the West by Ennio Morricone
"You are spoilt for choice when it comes to the music of the octogenarian Italian maestro, but his operatic, multi-themed score for Sergio Leone’s epic spaghetti western is the one that still resonates. Listening to the soundtrack on an old tape of my dad’s aroused my curiosity years before I saw the movie – has a harmonica ever sounded so hypnotically menacing? When I eventually caught up with the film and experienced the sublime blend of Morricone’s awesome orchestration with Leone’s dynamic visuals, it was unforgettable. And so it remains."
Jeremy Aspinall works in the Radio Times film unit
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