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Munich (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

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Veteran film composer John Williams scored his second Academy Award nomination of 2005 (along with Memoirs of a Geisha) for this soundtrack to career collaborator Steven Spielberg's challenging tale of the Israeli government's program of revenge for the massacre of their Olympic team by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich games. In spirit, Williams' orchestral work here can seem the haunting godchild of Schindler's List, a film whose moral compass it seems to have reversed. The anguished vocals of Lisbeth Scott's "Munich, 1972" sets the score's tone, a minor-keyed cloud of gloom and regret in which heroism is a decidedly relative term. There are intriguing details throughout (Dean Parks' Spanish guitar imparts a classical elegance to "Avner's Theme," the zither of "Stalking Carl" further hone its nervous edge while "Letter Bombs" typifies Williams' way with suspense), but they never clutter the soundtrack's more overarching sense of dread. Employing arrangements where the basses groan like a mourner's chorus, the composer subtly evokes Jewish cultural and musical traditions throughout, turning Scott's chilling vocal performance on "Remembering Munich" into a sort of post-modern Kaddish and Israel's national anthem ("Hatikvah") into an autumnal theme of introspection.

Customer Reviews

The conclusion of an epic year...

Munich is the fourth and final soundtrack scored by John Williams this year, preceded by Star Wars III, War of the Worlds and Memoirs of a Geisha. Each soundtrack has its own unique flair as Williams has expanded his musical techniques. In Munich, we find a score that is a blend between War of the Worlds and Schindler's List. There are plenty of references to both of these soundtracks (as well as a high string passage quote from, of all things, a Harry Potter film), so subtle that it just barely triggers that memory, but there nonetheless. Overall, the score is dark and moody, and there are no bombastic parts. It mainly comprises of minimalistic effects on the low keys of the piano, tender string passages, and beautiful woodwind melodies. The score is rather depressing at times, full of pain and angst. Take the most dissonant parts of Schindler's List, and step it up a notch, and this is the result. The first few tracks feature a vocal "theme" performed in the Jewish chanting style, full of what I describe as melodic 'hiccups' and odd intervals. Rather like the vocals on Passion of the Christ. It's very dificult to understand the melodic lines with this vocalist, but when it pops up later in oboe, clarinet and violin, it's much easier to understand. A few of the highlight tracks are: Hatikvah (The Hope) - A very touching, delicate piece for mostly strings A Prayer for Peace - A passionate, climatic piece, a good balance and respite from the darkness of the rest of the soundtrack Bearing the Burden - Full of odd effects, including plucking the lowest strings on a piano, gives it a very eerie feeilng. An absolute gem for anybody interested in avant garde. Anver and Daphna - The love theme of the soundtrack, very nice, moody, rather like "Ray and Rachel" from War of the Worlds Anver's Theme - Theme of said person, but played on solo classical guitar. Exquisite. Thoughts of Home - Once again, another delicate track. All of these would be rather boring lumped together, but when interspersed throughout the soundtrack, the contrast between the pieces provides musical conflict and unrest. End Credits - A reprise of many of the themes. Not just a typical end credits remix, but an actual flowing, progressing piece. A great way to top off a great soundtrack. Overall, I would not reccomend this as much as, say, or Memoirs of a Geisha, simply because it is harder to listen to. It demands your attention, and rightfully so. But if you want a musical journey that's both dark and sensitive at the same time, do not hesitate to purchase this wonderful album.

Munich is John Williams' next masterpiece

After a year so full of John Williams scores as 2005 has been, and after picking up every one of his others to be released this year (those being Star Wars III, War of the Worlds, and Memoirs of a Geisha), I was reluctant to open the pocketbook one more time to pick up Munich. The album opens with Lisbeth Scott's mournful Hebraic vocals over a subtle string backing, thereby introducing the score's primary theme. The track then builds to a suspenseful climax with some Horner-esque piano work. The following track is not amazing, but does introduce one of the more dissonant themes contained herein. "Hatikvah" is, as I understand, Williams' telling of the Israeli national anthem. This is another beautiful piece. Scott's vocals return in "Remembering Munich", where the primary theme is further elaborated on. From here on, every odd-numbered track is suspenseful, and every even-numbered track is heart-wrenching. Most notable is the guitar presentation of the secondary theme in "Avner's Theme," the gorgeous yet heartbreaking cello solos in "Thoughts of Home," and the breathtaking piano performances in "End Credits." As I said, I would heartily recommend purchasing this entire score, but if one were planning on selectively purchasing tracks, then... in my opinion, tracks 10 (Avner's Theme), 16 (Thoughts of Home), and 18 (End Credits) are the very best the album has to offer. But after track 3, all the even numbers (4, 6, 8, etc.) are simply lovely. So... which score is the better of Munich and Memoirs of a Geisha? To be sure, Memoirs was a very admirable achievement from the maestro, though it only includes one memorable theme which isn't the most complex or moving that Williams has written. Also, Memoirs includes so much underscored material, that it makes for a somewhat difficult listen unless one is skipping through the tracks. Munich, on the contrary, has two very memorable themes that could have a tendency to move one to tears. I would even venture to say that, while he has written more exciting scores of the likes of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Hook, Munich is quite likely his best composition since Schindler's List, and the themes here may be better than his classic 1993 score. It amazes me that as outstanding as Williams already is, he seems to be growing better and better every year (besides a slight stumble in the mid-late 90s). If you don't already have this score and you are anything of a fan of John Williams... what are you waiting for?

Simply Beautiful!

What an amazing year this has been for Williams! Munich is classic Williams at its best. Lush String arrangements only John Williams can write. If your a fan this soundtrack is a must.


Born: February 8, 1932 in Flushing, NY

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The most popular film composer of the modern era, John Williams created music for some of the most successful motion pictures in Hollywood history -- Star Wars, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, Jurassic Park and Harry Potter are just four of the credits in his extensive oeuvre. Born February 8, 1932, in Floral Park, New York, he was the son of a movie studio musician, and he followed in his father's footsteps by studying music at UCLA and Juilliard; initially, he pursued a career as a jazz pianist, later...
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