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Happy Birthday Nino Rota

Although motion pictures are, for all intents and purposes, a visual art form, one can still appreciate the music from those films on their own without the movie-going experience. For this I am grateful, as, being more drawn to music than film (and having limited spare time to catch all the movies that I’d like to), I can enjoy a great soundtrack without needing to see the film in the first place. And, even going a step further, I would argue that enjoying a movie without any music would be difficult and probably a much less pleasurable experience; whereas enjoying the music on its own is quite pleasurable. Perhaps the composers behind our favorite films are as vital, if not more vital, to the movie as a whole than the actors and actresses.

One of the more famous film composers of all time, Nino Rota,—who wrote the music for The Godfather parts I and II, Franco Zefferelli’s 1968 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, as well as multiple scores for Italian director Federico Fellini’s films, including , La Strada, and Amarcord—would have celebrated his 104th birthday today. Rota not only wrote the scores for over 170 movies between 1933 and his death in 1979,  but also numerous pieces of music outside of film, including four piano concertos, numerous operas, and even a trombone concerto!

That being said, we have a few titles in the NLS music collection by Mr. Rota that may be of interest to patrons. The first is the theme from Zeferelli’s Romeo and Juliet, “A Time for Us.” We have audio lessons for the alto sax (DBM02801), and also a lead sheet version in braille (BRM 34095).  We also have Rota’s love theme from The Godfather (Part I), also known as “Speak Softly, Love”, in digital talking book for solo piano (DBM01748) and braille for voice and piano (BRM 27100).

Lastly, we have film music from a lesser known film (at least here in the States), The Glass Mountain. This romance movie was released in Britain in 1949, and the movie, as well as the soundtrack, became very popular at that time in Britain. The main theme, which we have in the collection at BRM 02980, was later adapted to Rota’s Sinfonia Sopra una Canzone d’Amore (Symphony on a Love Song). In the movie, Tito Gobbi, who was an operatic baritone in real life, sings the main theme.

Photo of Henry Mancini, three-quarter length portrait, standing, facing slightly right. 1 photographic print [between 1950 and 1980]

Photo of Henry Mancini. 1 photographic print [between 1950 and 1980]. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c05918

Besides Rota, there have been dozens of composers who have become recognized for their film composing. Although a blog post could be written about each of the film composers represented in our collection, here are a few more that may be of interest:

  • Henry Mancini, composer of “Moon River”, the theme from Breakfast at Tiffany’s (in our collection for solo piano in braille at BRM20896 and digital talking book at DBM02413), the theme from Days of Wine and Roses (in braille at BRM35016), and the theme from The Pink Panther (for piano in braille at BRM33037 and  digital talking book at DBM01756 ). Along with these, we also have Mancini’s own Sounds and Scores: A Practical Guide to Professional Orchestration (BRM35206)—a wonderful resource for the aspiring composer!
  • Frank Churchill, who wrote music for Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (BRM06258)
  • Burt Bacharach, who wrote the song “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (BRM24725), as well as many non-film pop music hits
  • James Horner, made most famous by his score for Titanic and the mega-hit song from the movie “My Heart Will Go On.” We have that song available for solo piano on digital talking book (DBM01754), and for solo piano (BRM30021) as well as piano and voice in braille (BRM30015)
  • Max Steiner, who wrote the theme for Passage to Marseille, “Someday I’ll Meet You Again” (BRM21178)
  • And soon, we will have a collection of music from perhaps the most well-known film composer, John Williams

Please contact us if you would like any of the above titles, any other film music titles you would like to learn, or any suggestions on things we can add to the collection. Happy practicing!

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