Movie Music UK presents THE 100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME
A new series by Craig Lysy
As part of Movie Music UK’s tradition of innovation, I have decided launch a new series charting the 100 Greatest Scores of All Time. I had always wanted to undertake this daunting challenge, and after 35 years of procrastination, finally summoned up the resolve and courage necessary to bring it to fruition. So, every Monday, over the course of the next 2 years, I will list my choices for the Greatest 100 Scores of All Time, in reverse chronological order, culminating in my 100th pick during the summer of 2017, 109 years after the first recognized original film score – “L’Assassinat du Duc de Guise” by Camille Saint-Saëns – was written.
In regards to rankings, I was not successful after numerous attempts to listen them in order of merit. Ranking 100 scores would seem to be an exercise in futility, so instead, I have chosen with this series to take you on a journey through time, beginning with the score, which launched film score art – King Kong, by Max Steiner. I will relate to you why I believe each score merits inclusion, and my hope is to provide an insightful and enjoyable journey.
I believe simplicity of criteria was needed to be successful. Firstly, the score must have achieved a masterful synergy with the story’s imagery, characters, setting and narrative, which served to elevate the film. Secondly, the score must have provided an exceptional and memorable listening experience within both film context and as a CD/MP3. Finally, the score must have made an indelible and lasting impression due to its creativity, innovation, sophistication, or thematic beauty.
My selections cover scores dating from 1933 to 2014. An assessment of my choices reveals that 38% of my choices come from the “Golden Age” from the 1930s through the 1950s, 27% from the “Silver Age” of the 1960s and 70s, 25% from the “Bronze Age” encompassing the 1980s and 90s, and 10% from the “Modern Age”, since the turn of the millennium.
Scores by 42 different composers made the list, and Maestros Bernard Herrmann and John Williams secured the most acknowledgements with eight each. In all, twenty-two composers achieved the status of being acknowledged for two or more film scores.
I freely admit that this is but one man’s opinion, that I like everyone has certain biases, and that these manifest in my choices. But we must be authentic, and true to ourselves. So I offer my voice to the chorus of voices that have preceded me, and hope to achieve some degree of consonance.
All the best!