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John Williams’ Prelude and Fugue (1965)

One of the things I’ve always found fascinating are classical works by composers best known for film.

But, a confession...I’ve always found them way more interesting in principle than in actuality.

It’s probably simply that I am accustomed to the immediacy of film music, compared to the more deliberate and formal classical idioms (most of which, of course, served as the models for film writing).

But it’s always interesting to hear the composer’s voice in the concert hall setting.

If you’ve never heard it, check out one of the earliest John Williams’ concert works, “Prelude and Fugue,” which was recorded by Stan Kenton and the Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra:

It’s really fun to hear that vintage “Johnny” Williams, Lost in Space-era style—and jazziness—in this more elongated context.

If you’re interested, here’s a list of John Williams’ concert works.

Two of my favorite classical works by film composers (or composers primarily known for film) are, number one, “Music for Orchestra” by Jerry Goldsmith:

I particularly love the climactic passage. I heard this played live (I think conducted by David Newman) at a UCLA concert and it was fantastic.

And, number two, James Horner’s “Pas de Deux,” particularly the very cinematic final movement:

Sir, the mains are back online—bless you, Scotty, go Sulu! haha

By the way, in this scene, it’s a good thing that cadet (Nicholas Guest, Christopher Guest’s younger brother) was so on top of the oval monitor (the most pointless shape for a screen)—they really cut it close!

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Jim Ware
Jim Ware
Apr 02, 2023

The recently departed Christopher Gunning wrote 12 symphonies and a pile of other concert works in the last twenty years - exceptionally prolific! Check out Howard Shore's piano, cello and guitar concerti too.


Funny how Jerry Goldsmith kept the very predominant "academic" serial style in the concert hall, and his music still remains strong and beautiful to this day. It is not a dry and academic serial piece of music. James Horner went the opposite way and kept his film music style when he went back to the concert hall, and it is of course very effective. But I'm sure some concert composers would be more critical... I still remember hearing the first notes of Pas de Deux during the rehearsal in Liverpool...I had was amazing.

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