Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Sunday 19 July 2015

Sunday Soundtrack - "My God - it's full of stars!"

In honour of the Pluto mission this week and the awe-inspiring photographs from the outer reaches of the Solar System, we are revisiting '2001: A Space Odyssey' and Kubrik's inspired pairing of classical music with space-age action.

From the dramatic opening fanfare from Richard Strauss' 'Also Sprach Zarathustra' to the visceral keening of Ligeti's 'Requiem', the pared-down visuals and the music combine to convey the immensity of space.

Given the close collaboration of Arthur C Clarke in the film-making process - a man who must have known his science fiction classics - I wonder whether it is not too fanciful to assume that somewhere behind at least one selection is the 1956 short story 'A Work of Art' by James Blish, in which Richard Strauss is brought back to life in the distant future and invited to compose works on the themes of space-flight and time travel.

Another, unrelated, Strauss is responsible for perhaps the most hypnotic sequence in the film; I invite you to sit back and enjoy 'An der Schönen Blauen Donau' in a context its composer could never have imagined.



  1. Rate the SF potential of each of the classical masters.

  2. JH, there's a lifetime's work in that one!


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