There are obvious examples of classical music in movies, i.e. the movie biographies of composers themselves. A Song of Love comes to mind, with Katharine Hepburn and Paul Henreid, the story of Schumann and his accomplished pianist wife, Clara. Made in 1947, the movie also stars Robert Walker as Johannes Brahms. The music throughout is of course by Schumann, with some Brahms thrown in, and is a delight to the ear. As Schumann’s mental health declines, his most beautiful music accentuates the sorrow. 1945’s A Song To Remember is the biography of Frederic Chopin. Although it stars Cornel Wilde as Chopin and Merle Oberon as George Sand, even Paul Muni as Chopin’s teacher, the movies is kind of a dud. But the music – oh the music – Chopin throughout and beautiful enough to make the movie seem better than it is.
Then there are well-loved movies that incorporate classical music into the score, or use particular pieces almost in place of a score. One that I love is a 1945 British film, Brief Encounter, starring Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson. One of the most decent love stories about two people, each married, who deal with their feelings about one another, this movie could stand by itself. But the music of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto weaves throughout this beautiful story and enhances it immensely.
The final film I like for this category is more recent, 1980’s Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. A love story of two people who live in different times, this movie is famous for its glorious score by John Barry. But it is even more famous for the love scenes which are lushly enhanced by Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini. An unwieldy name for a gorgeous piece of music, the movie’s romance would have been just another love story without it.
There are so many examples of classical music in movies, and too little time and room. I have offered a few for your consideration. Maybe you know others you would like to bring to our attention, and that would be wonderful. All input is welcome from all movie lovers