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A History of Violence (Original Score)

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Album Review

The crime thriller A History of Violence, which concerns a Midwestern diner proprietor who may have a dark past revealed when he skillfully foils a robbery attempt, marks the 11th collaboration between director David Cronenberg and composer Howard Shore, who first got together early in their careers for The Brood (1979) and have also produced such disturbing works as Scanners (1980), Videodrome (1983), Dead Ringers (1988), and Crash (1996). Shore, meanwhile, became a mainstream Hollywood composer whose other scores include The Silence of the Lambs, Mrs. Doubtfire, Philadelphia, and the Academy Award-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy. For A History of Violence, he re-enters the decidedly weird world of Cronenberg, but he has provided a subtle, textured score that responds to the film's elements of doubt and internal conflict. Even though there are tracks here called "Run" and "Violence," he has not, for the most part, been called upon to underscore the action sequences. (In addition to the dramatic "Run," a notable exception is the portentous "Diner," accompanying the robbery scene.) Instead, this is minor key music taken at slow tempos, giving a continuing sense of uneasiness, but little resolution until the end. In his liner notes, Shore writes that the orchestration emphasizes the duality of the main character's nature, a duality between good and evil, "as the French horn and alto flute solos play duets with and against each other." Listeners are not likely to recognize this conflict between musical instruments or the composer's symbolism, though the conception no doubt helped him write. But it is worth noting that the French horn and the alto flute seem to be getting along well by the time the track "Ending" comes along, suggesting that the main character's dual nature has been resolved.


Born: 18 October 1946 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Howard Shore has composed the scores for over 50 films, including The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, After Hours, Seven, and both the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. His collaborations with David Cronenberg have resulted in scores for the films The Brood, Scanners, Videodrome, The Fly, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, M. Butterfly, and Crash, spanning a nearly 20-year period by the year 2001. Shore's formal education came at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. From 1969-1972 he recorded...
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