Without music, there's no film working. Film producers recognized this already in the Stone Age of sound film. The significance of film music for a film can go so far that it would not work without this musical accompaniment, or at least it would lose a lot of its mood and lose its impact. Hollywood in particular has brought forth a sheer number of film composers, some of whom, from Erich Wolfgang Korngold through Bernard Herrmann and Miklós Rósza to John Williams, are rightly regarded as ingenious and comparably as being good to many a classical composer because of their high compositional quality. This is not surprising, given that a large number of older film composers had received a classical education in Europe and ended up in Hollywood as part of the exodus triggered by the persecution of the Jews, such as Erich Wolfgang Korngold.
But also the filmmakers in Europe could not and cannot do without film composers. The Italian Nino Rota (1911 - 1979), who composed a good part of the important film works produced in the Roman Cinecittà, was regarded as an exceptional talent who was primarily active in European film production facilities. Among others he worked there with Federico Fellini and Luchino Visconti, but also with Franco Zeffirelli, whose Shakespeare films he supervised as a composer. But also Frank Coppola's The Godfather II lives to a large extent from Nino Rota's contributions.
Nino Rota wrote more than 150 film scores for Italian and international productions. With at least 3 film scores per year in the 46 years of his active time in high to highest quality, up to 13 film scores in 1954, he is considered in his profession as a frequent writer. With all this he still found time for the composition of ten operas, five ballets as well as dozens of orchestral and chamber music works. After all, he was active in teaching: for almost 30 years he held the post of director of the Liceo Musicale in Bari, Italy. Nino Rota's more than full life did not stop him from developing his own musical language, which, in the case of his film scores, is expressed in moods tailored to the film. Without these moods created by Rota, a good part of the films would not "work". An example of this is Fellini's "Otto e mezzo" ("8 ½"), in which Fellini processes his own creative crisis. But also the early Fellini films, such as the heartbreaking "La Strada", live to a decisive part of Rota's music.
What is so special about the mood images that Nino Rota gives to Fellini's films, but also to the films of the other filmmakers he supervises? What's special is not so much the quite short, very peculiar melodies, which by the way are all not suitable for singing along, but rather the enormous density of the orchestrations, which almost sucks the viewer into the plot of the film. No other film composer manages to do this in such a way, and certainly not those from Hollywood, whose music, like John Williams' "Star Wars" for example, is geared towards brilliance and larmoyance, which compared to Rota's music, who meticulously works out the psychological mood of the film characters and the content of the plot, come across as quite superficial.
Nino Rota was quite clearly a compositionally independent genius who elevated the film works he set to music to a unique experience. This is even comprehensible without the addition of running pictures, as on the excellently produced The Fellini album, realized by the Filarmonica Della Scala under the direction of Riccardo Chailly, which album will hopefully be followed by further outings.
Filarmonica della Scala
Riccardo Chailly, conductor