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Sound of Cinema: Philip French

Film critic Philip French talks to Michael Berkeley about the powerful relationship between cinema and music, and picks the music which has meant most to him over his long career.

It's quite possible that Philip French has seen more films than anyone else on the planet. Obsessed with cinema since the age of four, he has been reviewing films for the Observer for the past fifty years, as well as writing for many other papers and publishing several critically acclaimed books about cinema.

He talks to Michael Berkeley about the role of the composer in the cinema, his late flowering love of Beethoven string quartets, his lifelong delight in the singing of Ruth Etting; and his greatest film music memories.

His music choices are all associated with film ? from Disney's Fantasia; through The Ride of the Valkyries used so memorably in Apocalypse Now; to Miles Davis and avant garde composer Harry Partch.

Philip French sees at least nine films a week ? that's getting on for 20,000 over his career. Michael Berkeley asks him, how important is music in making a film stick in the mind?

Producer: Jane Greenwood. A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Edvard Grieg

    In the Hall of the Mountain King (Peer Gynt)

    Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic. Conductor: Herbert von Karajan.
  • Leonard Bernstein

    Symphonic Suite: On the Waterfront (excerpt)

    Orchestra: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Carl Davis.
  • Felix Mendelssohn

    Symphony No.4 in A (Italian)(1st mvt)

    Orchestra: Boston Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Charles Munch.
  • Miles Davis

    Generique (Ascenseur pour l'echafaud)

    Performer: Miles Davis. Performer: Barney Wilen. Performer: René Urtreger. Performer: Pierre Michelot. Performer: Kenny Clarke.
  • Ray Henderson

    Button up your Overcoat

    Singer: Ruth Etting.
  • Harry Partch

    Ulysses at the Edge (excerpt)

    Ensemble: Gate 5 Ensemble. Conductor: Harry Partch.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    String Quartet in C sharp minor, Op.131 (6th mvt: Adagio quasi un poco andante)

    Ensemble: Juilliard Quartet.
  • Igor Stravinsky

    The Rite of Spring (Introduction)

    Orchestra: Kirov Orchestra. Conductor: Valery Gergiev.
  • Richard Wagner

    Ride of the Valkyries (Die Walküre)


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