NWPR's Picks for Best Classical Music Moments in Film and Television

Some classical pieces have become so famous for the film scenes in which they appear, it’s hard to think of them in any other context. NWPR staff open up about their favorite classical music moments in film and television.

Operations Manager Marie Glynn noted Wagner’s “The Ride of the Valkyries” in the helicopter scene of “Apocalypse Now” to be “harrowing and horrifyingly apt.” She said "it was stunning to be seated in a movie theater in 1979 and experience that.”

Afternoon host Gigi Yellen answered the “Blue Danube Waltz” by J. Strauss Jr. behind a huge, graceful space station in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Kubrick’s film “forever transformed how I hear this piece, and took my breath away in the theatre.”

Host Steve Reeder describes a scene from his favorite film, Federico Fellini's "Otto e mezzo. “Early in the story, the filmmaker-protagonist Guido goes to a spa, hoping to find a certain measure of peace and privacy, as well as inspiration for his next picture. While waiting in line with a group of women for a cup of the facility's ‘restorative’ waters, he lowers his shades and imagines his muse (Claudia Cardinale), dressed entirely in white and gliding toward him with some water as refreshment.  After a few moments, the nudging of the women in the queue brings him back to reality....’The Barber of Seville’ courses throughout this scene on the soundtrack, offering a humorous counterpoint to a stately ‘procession,’ even as some of the women briefly mug for the camera.  It's Fellini and Rossini giving us a knowing wink and nod.”

Sandi Billings says she thinks of how effectively director John McTiernan used “Ode to Joy” in the original “Die Hard” and as a musical theme in an action-adventure (now practically a cult) film.

Music Director Jessie Jacobs said most recently she was moved by the Dvorak in the final moments of “Arrival.” “The Larghetto from his “Serenade for Strings” was a great mix of the conflicting emotions that arose at the end of the film…and the arrangement was really lovely and haunting.”

Sue Sheppard, membership, noted the Adagio from Mozart’s “Clarinet Concerto in A” in 1985’s Academy Award winner for Best Score. She “couldn’t tell if it was the music or the cinematography that was spellbinding in “Out of Africa.” Clearly I cannot separate the two cause both are beautiful.”

Hannah Whisenant, Traffic, says the appearance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in The BBC’s production of “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.” “Sherlock mischievously playing the violin badly to get on Watson's nerves is also a reason it's one of my favorite episodes.”

And Mozart makes the list again - host Anjuli Dodhia likes the inclusion of the “Canzonetta Sull’Aria” from The Marriage of Figaro in “The Shawshank Redemption.”All of the inmates stop what they’re doing when the record comes on. It’s a slice of something beautiful outside their terrible situation - it’s a moment that really shows the power of music.”