Back in February, we were able to get violinist Anne Akiko Meyers on the phone to chat about her new Vivaldi album performed on the legendary Vieuxtemps Guarneri del Gesu violin. While on the line, we asked her to name her favorite film composer. Without hesitation, Ms. Meyers told us that she loves Charlie Chaplin, who composed musical scores for his films. She told us that she loves to play “Smile,” originally composed for the 1936 film Modern Times.
In March, I had the pleasure of spending some time with flutist Sir James Galway when he was in town performing with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. It turns out that Sir Galway is a huge fan of movies and watches one a day with his wife. When asked to name a film he thinks uses pre-existing music in an effective way, Sir Galway responded Death in Venice which uses the slow movement to Mahler’s Fifth Symphony.
Sir Galway then went on to tell me about his old friend Henry Mancini, who is his absolute favorite composer of film music. He compared Mancini to Verdi explaining that in Italy, everyone can sing tunes written by Verdi, more so than any other composer. In the same way, in the United States, everyone can sing something written by Mancini, most commonly “Moon River” sung by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Who is your favorite composer of film music?