Cinematic Pioneers

from ECO Music Director Matthew Kraemer
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From the earliest days of motion picture history, music has played an integral role. Although the initial inclusion of music may have been merely to drown out the sound of the projector, it quickly evolved into a dramatic means of heightening drama and conveying emotions in ways that words never could. The pantheon of film composers over the past 100 years is astounding.

J.S. Zamecnik
J.S. Zamecnik

Revered classical giants such as Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Copland, and Vaughan Williams contributed exceptional scores. Bernard Hermann, Maurice Jarre, Erich Korngold, and Miklós Rózsa are but four of the extraordinary names from Hollywood’s Golden Age. Modern movie audiences may be more familiar with the names of John Williams, Hans Zimmer, and Danny Elfman, who have added their personal touch to so many beloved modern classics.

This week the Erie Chamber Orchestra pays homage to the beginning of this rich cinematic tradition with the release of our first recorded album, the music of John Stepan Zamecnik, a prolific composer of early photoplay music. We are thrilled to close our week with a screening of Charlie Chaplin’s 1931 classic, City Lights.

City Lights © Roy Export S.A.S.
City Lights © Roy Export S.A.S.

A true pioneer of early cinema, Chaplin’s work as director, producer, writer, actor, and composer is truly remarkable. City Lights marks the first time that Chaplin composed music for one of his own films. He dictated the music to composer Arthur Johnston over the course of six weeks, and together they produced a score that pairs perfectly to the film Chaplin created. The music alone transports us back almost 100 years into a fascinating era of American history. A beautiful love story, it remains for many film historians one of the finest movies ever made.


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