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SLSO Musicians Share Their Favorite Film Music

By Tim Munro

On December 16, I moderated a lively Lunch & Learn conversation about film music. The participants were Music Director Stéphane Denève, Concertmaster David Halen, Associate Principal Clarinet Diana Haskell, Principal Horn Roger Kaza, and Associate Principal Trombone Amanda Stewart.

I asked the participants for playlists of their favorite film scores, to accompany the discussion. These playlists—a delightful mix of old and new, famous and obscure—are included below. I hope they provide some joyful listening (and viewing!) over this holiday season.

Music Director Stéphane Denève's Playlist

Stéphane included a commentary on some of his choices:

“My wife and I love to go to the movies, and typically see a film once a week. We made sure that we went to the cinema in Brussels on the first day that theaters were reopened here, on July 1.

“I must choose E.T. for my playlist! I saw the film when I was ten years old, and it was the first movie that made me cry. I met John Williams in 2007 in Los Angeles, that same day I also met Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese. I really believe that he made it possible for symphonic music to be the music for blockbusters, even today!

“When I conducted the score for E.T. with the Philadelphia Orchestra, my daughter Alma was there, seeing the movie for the first time almost at the same age I saw it myself. I cried like a child at the end of the performance—it was so moving.

“I can't choose between John Williams’ other scores: Star Wars (of course again!), Close Encounters, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, and so many more…

Le Mépris is a sort of Franco-Mahlerian nouvelle vague. I adore Michel Legrand and his music for The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. You must understand that the whole of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is sung, even the most casual dialogue—it is brilliant!

“I recorded a full album of film music with Renaud Capuçon. It was fun and it's also my best selling album! On that album is the “Aria” from Philippe Rombi’s score for Joyeux Noël, and a selection from Bagdad Café.

“I love Korngold’s score to Robin Hood, but I am afraid I have never seen the movie!

“Björk’s movie musical Dancer in the Dark is especially touching for me and my wife Åsa. We found the name of our daughter thanks to this film. I also love old musical movies, like Singin' in the Rain and West Side Story.”

Included below are playlists by Diana Haskell, Roger Kaza, and Amanda Stewart.


Associate Principal Clarinet Diana Haskell's Playlist

Principal Horn Roger Kaza's Playlist

Associate Principal Trombone Amanda Stewart's Playlist


Tim Munro is the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s Creative Partner. A writer, broadcaster, and Grammy-winning flutist, he lives in Chicago with his wife, son, and badly-behaved orange cat.


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