#writing #music: #JamesHorner and @samuelsofficial

After wading through the muck’n’mire of Cancel Culture, I’d like to celebrate Spring’s arrival with you. It comes upon the choir of strings, written by a beloved composer, performed by dynamic voices.

Stringed voices.

Norwegian violinist Mari Samuelsen and her cellist brother Hakon have been performing both together and separately for years. Like me, they’ve always adored the music of composer James Horner–how can one not? This man’s music brought life to blockbusters like Braveheart, Aliens, and Titanic. His music filled the movies of my childhood: Something Wicked This Way Comes, American Tail, and Start Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, to name a few.

Just as writers and readers dream of meeting the authors who inspire them, the Samuelsens dreamed of Horner composing a piece for them.

And, as the happiest of stories go, this dream came true.

Mutual friend and Norwegian director Harald Zwart finagled a meeting with James Horner and the Samuelsens. After performing for Horner, Mari asked if Horner would write a concerto for them.

He said yes.

I feel like I’m transported to the classical style Horner himself loved. The beginning cello solo here reminds me of the bassoon opening Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Then the violin enters, and I can’t help but think of Firebird Suite,also by Stravinsky. It’s no coincidence both works were adapted to accompany visual stories of creation and destruction in Disney’s Fantasia and Fantasia 2000.

And Horner himself is a storyteller, such a storyteller. The cello and violin are the characters of this story; its setting, the dawn of spring. Can’t you just feel the encroaching sunrise with the muted swell of the woodwinds? And here come the strings: warmth, growth. Green shoots struggle for freedom from thawing soil. Cello and violin walk–no, dance–through the landscape, casting out the final frost fairies to welcome spring’s sprites. The sprites run as the orchestral strings unleash them into the air.

I could go on, but I am sure your own imaginations picture this dance of change and color. It delights me to hear beloved themes from Horner’s other work woven into this tale: the strings bring forgotten magic from Something Wicked This Way Comes, a touch of kindled love from Titanic. The orchestral woodwinds remind me of the bravery buried in Wrath of Khan. Yes, I hear many loved harmonies of my childhood fantasies come and go until the final moment, when all is silent but for the violin and cello, an echo of the song’s beginning.

It helps the harmonies are played with such passionate players. I must find more of the Samuelsens’ work–their expression with bows and breaths are unlike any I’ve heard before.

If you loved Part 1, then please, listen to Part 2 and Part 3 of James Horner’s concerto. It’s such a stunning work, and one of Horner’s last; he died the year this album was released, 2015.

I am so thankful to have found Pas De Deux, and cannot wait to write more about the composer who led me to this album. But that will have to wait. Until then, let me give you a sample in the form of his contribution performed by the Samuelsens. May this song bring you dreams of Spring’s duet, its color and storms ever dancing with ribbons of sunlit magic.

But most of all, may this song fill your heart with a hope defiant of all darkness.

Thank you so much for reading this small journey through music’s inspiration. I hope you’ll take a moment to check out my novel and free fiction, as well as subscribe to my newsletter.

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

37 thoughts on “#writing #music: #JamesHorner and @samuelsofficial

  1. I meant to comment earlier but had a crisis now sorted. I wanted to say the music is transition. Gentle. I’d like to hear the winter equivalent – maybe more fiddle than violin? ~ George

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Samuelsons’ rendition of James Horner’s work is stunning. I’m listening to it as I write this. I will listen to it again tonight when I do my calligraphy practice. It’s so dramatic, yet balanced in its gentler passages. Sadly, the composers for musical scores are largely absent from commingling with the gods and goddesses of classical music. Thank you for opening my eyes to Horner’s portfolio.

    By the way, I hope my little review for your fine novel helped in a small way. I was astounded by your depth as an artist. Is the sequel for it out now? You kinda left the reader in the dark spaces between the underworld and Grandma’s house.



    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, thank you so very much! The publishers still have the second book, but hopefully not for much longer.
      I know, that music just won’t leave my head, which is fine by me. The entire concerto cannot be appreciated without long meditation. πŸ™‚


  3. I love this! Thank you for sharing both your passion for the music and the music itself. Isn’t that magical?? Only a few years ago you could have written movingly about it – and then I would have had to rootle around to hear it – but listening to it as I read your article… Magic. Just this fabulous composition. And yes… you can hear the vibrancy of regrowth and renewal. As I get older, each Spring seems that much more of a miracle… perhaps as I realise just how fragile Life actually is. Marvellous article, Jean:))

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Jean Lee, I’m impressed with your knowledge of music. I like James Horner’s music too. I am a fan of movie music if it’s good. Marvin Hamlisch, the winner of three Acadmey Awards (The Way We Were, The Sting) was a friend of mine and we oftean spoke about music for movies., He said that he thought the greatest movie score was Leoanard Bernstein’s for On Th Waterfront with Marlon Brando. Stay well, David Thanks for the lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is amazing, Sir! The Sting’s got a beautiful score, embodying the ragtag mischief of that decade while still gripping the heartstrings in emotional moments.
      And thank you so much for your kind words–music is a joy my parents both passed to me, and I hope to pass it on to my children. xxxxxxxxxxx


  5. What a pleasure it is reading your article and listening to this divine music. Score composers have unique talent. I can listen to the movie scores all the day round, and it doesn’t matter to me if I haven’t seen the movie itself πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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