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Alan Silvestri: the genius behind the best soundtracks

Alan Silvestri and the most outstanding film soundtracks

If we imagine the experience of watching a movie without its soundtrack, we probably realize the importance of music in cinema. A good musical composition conveys to us a multitude of feelings that deepen the cinematographic scenes, sensations that make the communication capacity of the seventh art even greater.

Cinema is an art that brings together different professions such as acting, direction, photography, editing, sound and, of course, music. One of the first issues that come to mind when we remember a movie is its soundtrack. When I think about Apoalypse Now, the Ride of the Valkyries quickly takes shape in my imagination, and if I think about The Godfather, I inevitably hum that main theme by Nino Rota. Cinema is not cinema without its music, therefore, we are going to analyze one of the great representatives of music composed for this art. Alan Silvestri: the genius behind the best soundtracks.

Alan Silvestri and his career in the music industry

Born in New York (USA), on March 26, 1950, Alan Silvestri is a composer whose popularity and pace of work have allowed him to maintain a career that has lasted more than 50 years, in which he has remained at the forefront, both in the most commercial cinema and in smaller and independent projects.

He is well known for his close collaboration with director Robert Zemeckis, a partnership that remains solid and immovable from the beginning of both their careers to the present, as they have shown in their latest collaboration released by Disney, Pinocchio (2022). In recent years, he has also become known among younger generations thanks to his work in several Marvel superhero films.

Of Italian descent, Silvestri demonstrated his musical vocation at a very young age and trained as a drummer and percussionist, later showing interest in the bassoon, clarinet, saxophone and guitar. At the Berklee College Music in Boston he took the music composer course. After graduation he joined the group Wayne Cochran and the CC Riders, with whom he toured the United States on tours and in concerts. From there, he quickly found a niche in Hollywood, making his film debut with The Doberman Gang. Later, he would alternate film and television.

The next step, given his rhythmic and fresh style, united him forever with Robert Zemeckis, a young and inexperienced director at the time. The 80s marked an undeniable emergence of Silvestri into the world of cinema, working with the most prominent directors of the moment. Together with Zemeckis, he would consolidate with Back to the Future (1985), a milestone in both their careers. During the rest of the time he would work on equally famous films such as predator (1987) or Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988), and even collaborating with James Cameron only once in The Abyss (1989).

Already in the 90s, Silvestri would see himself established in the first division of Hollywood cinema. After new deliveries of Back to the Future and predatorIn the middle of the decade, the greatest triumph, especially at the awards level, would come for the Zemeckis-Silvestri tandem. Forrest Gump (1994) was a huge success, winning the Oscars for Best Film and Best Director, and giving the musician his first nomination, also for the Oscars as well as the Golden Globes. Far from the brass orchestras that had marked his career, it is a work minimalist and sensitive musical, framed by an emotional main theme performed on the piano.

The entry into the 21st century brought adventures such as The Mummy Returns , A Christmas Carol, Castaway either Polar Express, with which he earned his second Oscar nomination, in this case for Best Song. Already in 2011 the composer accessed the Marvel studios film carousel, with Captain America, First Avenger, where he demonstrated his solvency despite not reaching the levels achieved with Zemeckis. The following year he repeated with one of the company's biggest hits, The Avengers. Alan Silvestri is not one of the most awarded composers, not even in nominations, but that has not prevented him from becoming one of the most loved and respected.

Distinctive elements of Alan Silvestri's musical style

The New York composer has extensive training as a percussionist, as well as enormous skill as an instrumentalist, facts that have shaped his musical style. This is especially characterized by the mix of 'modern' instruments like the guitar, drums or piano, with great orchestrations.

With an exquisite sense of rhythm, he has also written great songs that are part of the cinephile imagination. He is very fond of melodic rhythms, sometimes with a certain Latin flavor and other times jazzy. As a curiosity, in addition to his profession as a musician, he has some vineyards in California, his place of residence. On this topic, he himself points out that “there is something in the elemental aspect of winemaking that attracts me. Both the 'making' of music and the making of wine involve the mixture of art and science. Just as each note brings its own voice to the melody, each vine brings its own personality to the wine.”

Throughout his extensive career, Alan Silvestri has blazed a trail of innovation with exciting, melodic scores while earning the applause of the public and the industry worldwide. He has written some of the most recognizable and beloved songs in the history of celluloid, which is why he is considered one of the most relevant composers of film music.

The most notable soundtracks that Alan Silvestri has composed

Most of Alan Silvestri's projects as a soundtrack creator have been accompanied by directors of the caliber of Joe Russo, the aforementioned Robert Zemeckis, Anthony Russo, Nancy Meyers or Joe Johnston and have offered an iconic quality in each of them. The pieces. A musician like Silvestri has exploited all his creativity, drawing inspiration from romance, adventure, comedy, drama or fantasy films. Now we are going to review the most notable New York soundtracks.

Forrest Gump

The compilation album published in 1994 and based on the songs that sound in the film Forrest Gump, is a selection of exclusively North American classics, covering different musical genres popular during the second half of the 20th century, and which sold more than 12 million copies. Zemeckis wanted the soundtrack to include only songs by American artists, as he thought that was the only thing Forrest Gump would listen to.

The original soundtrack created by Alan Silvestri was published independently of this publication. The minimalism of this work and its ability to generate feelings, with an unforgettable piano, make this score memorable. The main theme of the film is I'm Forrest…Forrest Gump', a beautiful sweet and sad song at the same time. Silvestri also signs Suite from Forrest Gump, a composition that runs through the film and accentuates its dramatic effect, again with a magnificent piano and beautiful choral elements. This work is capable of exciting even a robot.

Back to the Future

Return to the future (1985), as well as the aftermath Back to the future II (1989) and Back to the future III (1990), have become one of the most famous trilogies and franchises in science fiction cinema, thanks to the aforementioned collaboration of Robert Zemeckis and Alan Silvestri. The original soundtrack includes several original songs for the film, which are especially famous, such as The Power of Love, with an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song.

The soundtrack of Return to the future It is another of those cases in which compositions created expressly for the film are mixed with scores from recognized groups. Silvestri's original work is for many, one of the three best scores created by Silvestri. Some historical data indicate that the composer was not very happy with the work done, also for Zemeckis, in After the green heart, so he took advantage of this tape to get rid of the thorn that was stuck in him.

At the time, it was said that Silvestri managed to echo the wild symphonism that John Williams had rescued for film music since the mid-seventies. Thus, he managed to impress an entire generation upon hearing the unique combination of nine notes that make up the leitmotif of the film.

According to the composer himself, at that time he was fulfilling his dream of creating a powerful soundtrack with a great orchestra. He lived real moments of terror in the face of that responsibility. At first he read the script and then he started composing. After attending a work session with the director, he understood perfectly what he wanted. The heroism that characterizes the score has made it one of the most admired. It is inevitable to contemplate the time travel of the Delorean in our minds every time we listen to the music created by Silvestri.

The Avengers

Time has shown that choosing Alan Silvestri as composer for the saga the Avengers, (except Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), was a right decision. The main theme, on which the entire story rests, is extraordinary. Furthermore, it is very recognizable, and above all, upon hearing it we quickly associate it with comic book characters. Silvestri's style has always been to create a prominent central theme and the rest of the score as accompaniment.

It is also worth mentioning that the vast majority of films, both Marvel and DC Comic, that have flooded the cinema in this century, have been accompanied by excellent soundtracks; epic, full of orchestration, melodic and easily recognizable, since 2002 Spider-Man, with Danny Elfman, would open the way. It is also notable that before, the scores of other characters in the comic had a notable relevance. John Williams opened the jar of essences with superman, in 1978 and then other greats emerged with Danny Elfman in batman (1989).

As we have mentioned, Silvestri is a composer full of vitality and rhythm, whose scores always have a leading role in the film. On many occasions they radiate enthusiasm, as in the aforementioned Return to the future either The bride's father (1991). And, in others, a certain melancholy, as in the case of Forrest Gump either Castaway (2000).

The adventure saga of the Avengers required strength, bombast and a lot of orchestration, although it also offers moments of pure emotion. As the story developed it acquired a more dramatic tone, as was evident in Avengers: Endgame (2019). This composition is closer to the music of Castaway.

All those spectators who want to enjoy Alan Silvestri's music live can attend the Film Symphony Orchestra's concerts. In Krypton, the Tour, you can hear soundtracks of heroes and superheroes in concert and in the next Henko, the Tour, the best live film music. More than 70 musicians playing the most unforgettable soundtracks in the history of celluloid await you. Do not miss it!

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