Art Music and the Movies

Department of Music, School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music

College of Arts and Law


Code 20571

Level of study Third/Final year

Credit value 20

Semester Running Spring 2012. Further information available June 2012.

Module description

For more than a century, music for film has been one of the most significant of artistic genres, if not in prestige then certainly in terms of commercial success and widespread influence. It also has had a great effect on the popular image, and indeed popularity, of "serious" music and its composers, not only in the use of such music as part of the soundtrack to a wide range of films, but also in movies directly dealing with specific musicians (for example, the celebrated but ludicrous Chopin-biopic of 1945, "A Song to Remember" or the increasingly bizarre films of Ken Russell on Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Liszt and others).This module will give a broad overview of the history and development of film music from the silent era to the present day, with a particular emphasis on its connections with art music, and on "films about music". We shall study the roots of film music styles in the programme pieces and opera of the 19th century, general stylistic borrowings from art music (for example Korngold's debt to Richard Strauss in scoring for the swashbuckling films of the 1930s , or John Barry's "mickey-mouse Wagner" for James Bond) , and finally film's enormously important contribution to the reception history of music as a whole in the 20th century.

Teaching and learning methods

Seminars. Examined by two assessed essays.