Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He produces the Café Concerts series and the podcast/show Conducting Business. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
Classical Music to Match 'Hunger Games'' Dystopian Vision?
Monday, March 26, 2012 - 05:25 PM
To create the stylized sound of “The Hunger Games,” the dystopian action-thriller that just enjoyed the third-highest-grossing opening weekend in U.S. history, the film’s director turned to the award-winning producer T-Bone Burnett. He assembled a soundtrack featuring pop artists like Taylor Swift, Arcade Fire, Glen Hansard and Maroon 5. So far, the music is winning praise from critics, and is burning up the iTunes sales chart.
Based on the first book of Suzanne Collins's trilogy, "The Hunger Games" is set in a dystopian future where 24 randomly selected young people must fight each other, gladiator-style, in an annual televised battle to the death.
Although it's not included on the official soundtrack album, perceptive audiences will note "The Hunger Games" includes Steve Reich's Three Movements for Orchestra, as well as electro-acoustic music by the Icelandic composer Olafur Arnalds and the American composer Laurie Spiegel.
But as for more standard repertoire, consider some post-apocalyptic films of the recent past: “A Clockwork Orange” (1972) famously employed Rossini, Elgar and the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony; “V for Vendetta” (2005) used Beethoven’s Fifth and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture; “Minority Report” (2002) included Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony and Bach; and “Children of Men" (2006) featured Mahler, Handel and Penderecki’s Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima.
Some might object to the notion of pairing hallowed classical masterpieces with Hollywood portrayals of massive dehumanization, totalitarian governments, rampant disease, post-apocalyptic landscapes and cyber-genetic technologies. Others may shrug it off as harmless entertainment.
What do you think? Which piece best suggests a dystopian future to you? Take our poll and leave a comment below:
Updated 3/27 at 1:30 pm