One of the most iconic aspects of the Harry Potter films is the music used through the films. From “Hedwig’s Theme” to “Double Trouble” to even “Leaving Hogwarts,” you can find all you need to know on the music from Harry Potter here.
- “Harry Potter” Film Concert Series Takes Over the Hollywood Bowl - On Wednesday, the "Harry Potter" Film Concert Series finally made its West Coast premiere at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California. The concert featured the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra performing every note from "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone".
- Steven Spielberg to Present John Williams with AFI Award - Director Steven Spielberg is due to present composer John Williams with the prestigious AFI Lifetime Achievement Award next month.
The Sorcerer’s Stone soundtrack was composed and conducted by John Williams and orchestrated by Conrad Pope and Eddie Karam in 2001. It was performed at Air Lyndhurst Studios and Abbey Road Studios in London. It was certified Gold in Canada, entered the Billboard 200 Chart at number 48, and also charter at number 2 on the Top Soundtracks Chart. It was also nominated for Best Original Score at the 74th Academy Awards. It also won the award for Best Original Score in MuggleNet’s 2013 Harry Potter Oscars, as chosen by the fans.
The film introduces many character specific themes that are used in at least one sequel, although mostly just in Chamber of Secrets. These themes include two themes for Voldemort, two for Hogwarts, one for Diagon Alley, one for Quidditch, a flying theme, a friendship theme, and the main theme. The iconic main theme, “Hedwig’s Theme,” was integrated into the rest of the films. Track 18, “Leaving Hogwarts” was featured during the epilogue of Deathly Hallows – Part 2 as a tribute to Williams and the series’ end.
The Chamber of Secrets soundtrack was composed by John Williams, adapted and conducted by William Ross and orchestrated by Conrad Pope and Eddie Karam in 2002. The score was originally slated to be composed and conducted entirely by John Williams but due to scheduling conflicts with the scoring of Steven Spielberg’s film Catch Me If You Can, composer William Ross was brought in to adapt Williams’ music and conduct the scoring sessions with the London Symphony Orchestra. The soundtrack charted on the Billboard 200 at number 81 and charted at number 5 on the Top Soundtracks Chart. It was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media in 2003.
Six new themes were introduced, building off the Sorcerer’s Stone themes. These themes are “Fawkes the Phoenix,” “The Chamber of Secrets,” “Gilderoy Lockhart,” “Dobby the House Elf,” “The Spiders,” and “Moaning Myrtle.” The soundtrack was initially available in one of five different collectible covers, with a different character or characters packaged above the main cover which features Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
The Prisoner of Azkaban soundtrack was composed and conducted by John Williams and orchestrated by Conrad Pope and Eddie Karam in 2004. It was performed at Abbey Road Studios in London. It charted at number 68 on The Billboard 200, and at number 3 on The Top Soundtracks Chart. It was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score, a Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media, and the World Soundtrack Award for Best Original Score of the Year.
The score introduces two major themes: “Window to the Past” and “Double Trouble,” although neither are featured in the other films. Two other notable themes were used to represent Sirius’s hunt and the Time-Turner. A ticking sound is heard throughout the song used in the Time-Turner scenes to indicated that time is running out. “Double Trouble” was composed by Williams during the film’s production as a warm welcome back to Hogwarts during the opening feast. It was sung by the London Orator School Schola, and the lyrics are taken directly from Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
The Goblet of Fire was composed and conducted by Patrick Doyle in 2005. It is the first soundtrack in the film series to not be composed by John Williams. Williams had scheduling problems. In 2005 alone, he scored Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Memoirs of a Geisha, Munich, and the remake of War of the Worlds.
The music was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and entered the Billboard 200 Chart at number 80. It also charted at number 4 on the Top Soundtracks Chart. He included three major new themes, one for the Triwizard Tournament, one for Lord Voldemort, and one to represent Harry’s crush on Cho Chang. A prominent minor theme is “The Death of Cedric.” There is also an ominous reprisal of the main “Hedwig’s Theme.”
The Order of the Phoenix soundtrack was composed and conducted by Nicholas Hooper in 2007. Hooper had worked with the new series director David Yates before. It was performed by the London Chamber Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios in London, and they recorded nearly two hours of music. The soundtrack was released a day before the film’s release. It entered the Billboard 200 Chart at number 43 and at number 5 on the Top Soundtracks Chart. It sold about 16,000 copies in its first week and has since sold around 356,000 copies in the US and a million copies worldwide. The soundtrack was also released in a special edition, with a custom hinged box with navy velveteen fabric. Inside the box was a 20 page booklet with a foil embossed front cover. Reviews of the score were mixed compared to previous scores in the series, leaning more towards negative compared to soundtracks before and after it. Critics noted its lack of continuity with the rest of the franchise and generally consider it the weakest of the eight scores.
Hooper incorporated “Hedwig’s Theme” into the new score, after reviewing previous Williams soundtrack but deciding, “that it was best if I moved into my own way of composing rather than trying to emulate John Williams which is impossible.” “Another Story,” “Hall of Prophecies,” “Room of Requirement,” and “A Journey to Hogwarts” contain samples of “Hedwig’s Theme.” The order presented on the release do not follow the order they are heard in the film. They are heard in the following order: 3, 4, 17, 15, 10, 13, 2, 16, 5, 8, 9, 14, 1, 11, 6, 12, 7, 18. Two new main themes were made to reflect Umbridge and Voldemort’s invasion of Harry’s mind. “Dumbledore’s Army” was used in the Quidditch trials scene in Half-Blood Prince, and “Fireworks” was used in the Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes scene in Half-Blood Prince. “The Kiss” was later used in Alexandre Desplat’s “A New Beginning” in Deathly Hallows – Part 2.
The Half-Blood Prince soundtrack was composed by Nicholas Hooper and conducted Hooper alongside Alastair King in 2009. It is critically acclaimed and the most successful score of the series. It debuted at number 29 on the Billboard 200 Chart, thus making it the highest charting soundtrack among all the six movies released at the time. It also charted at number 3 on the Top Soundtracks Chart. It was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for a Motion Picture. As part of the film’s marketing, many tracks were released across the Internet, with the whole soundtrack previewed on AOL Radio on June 30.
Thematically, Hooper references his own ideas from The Order of the Phoenix, and several elements from Williams’ work. Not included on the soundtrack: “Friends and Love,” which is a compilation of “When Ginny Kissed Harry” and “Harry and Hermione,” that came with purchasing a ticket for the movie on Fandango. Also “Big Beat Repeat,” which can be heard in the Gryffindor Common Room after the Quidditch match, and a track (that could be called “Murder and Escape” by John Powell,) that can be heard when Dumbledore falls from the astronomy tower and Harry pursues Snape. Two of the tracks on the soundtrack do not appear in the film. “In Noctem” was scored for the death at the end of the film and features a light choir did not make the final cut. “Wizard Wheezes” was unfortunately replaced by the Weasley Twin’s theme from OotP, “Fireworks.” The most prominent track from this score, “Dumbledore’s Farewell,” is reused in the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 theme “Severus and Lily” which is used in the scene when Harry views Snape’s memories in the Pensieve.
The Deathly Hallows – Part 1 score was composed and conducted by Alexandre Desplat and orchestrated by Conrad Pope in 2010. It was critically acclaimed, debuting at number 74 on the Billboard 200 and at number 4 on the Top Soundtracks Chart. The soundtrack was released three days before the film, and a three disk limited edition collector’s box set was also released. It was nominated for the 2010 IFMCA Award for Best Original Score for a Fantasy Film and the 2010 Satellite Award for Best Original Score.
“Hedwig’s Theme” was present, according to Yates, during “anything that felt like we were being nostalgic or in way reflective of the past.” Because the first half of the Deathly Hallows films is more about a loss of innocence the theme is utilized more in Part 1 than Part 2. Yates went on to say that the tone of the theme was altered to be inline with the mood of the film as he “wanted it to feel like it was all getting a bit distressed.” Desplat commented on the other major themes, saying, “Since Harry, Ron and Hermione are now on the road being chased by the dark forces of Voldemort, they are never twice in the same place. They are constantly on the move. I alternate between themes by situation or location (the Ministry of Magic, the Sky Battle, the Burrows); themes by characters: Dobby, Dumbledore, Voldemort, Bathilda Bagshot, Lovegood, or several other characters; the Oblivation theme, which conveys their loss of innocence, as well as the sense of danger and will be the leading them through their exodus; and themes for magical devices (the Detonators, the Locket, the Deathly Hallows).”
Not included on the soundtrack is the only “Muggle” song to be prominently featured, “O Children,” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. It is included in a scene developed by screenwriter Steve Kloves, where Harry and Hermione dance in their tent after Ron leaves to “capture the tension and friendship and love that they share together.” Yates wanted an “old soul song” that was not used in television or film before and one that wasn’t too clearly part of the “Muggle world.” Yates listened to about 300 tracks from Music Supervisor Matt Biffa, saying that he “needed a piece of music that was poignant and tender but oddly uplifting. And I came across Nick’s piece and I loved it immediately. It has that capacity to lift you up and break your heart at the same time. My biggest fear was playing it for Dan [Radcliffe] and Emma [Watson], cause I thought, ‘God, are they going to understand?’ Because it was important to me that they understand the music as well, that they felt it. So I played it for them and it was my most nervous moment, and I played it for them and I was like, ‘Oh God, are they going to like it?’ and they loved it.” The scene won the 2013 MuggleNet Harry Potter Oscar for Best New Scene (not in the books), as chosen by the fans.
The Deathly Hallows – Part 2 soundtrack was composed and conducted by Alexandre Desplat and orchestrated by Conrad Pope in 2011. John Williams was asked to return for the final film but his schedule did not align with the film’s schedule. It was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra on May 27, 2011 at Abbey Road Studios in London. The main theme of the film, “Lily’s Theme,” was performed by Mai Fujisawa, daughter of Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi. It peaked at number 25 on the Billboard 200 Chart, and at number 2 on the Top Soundtracks Chart. It was nominated for a Grammy Award, a Satellite Award, a Houston Film Critics Society Award, a Denver Film Critics Society Award, and an IFMCA Award. The soundtrack won the San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Score. It was critically acclaimed and cited as a perfect ending to the series.
Several tracks are reused from previous films. A variant of “Hedwig’s Theme” from Chamber of Secrets is used twice in Part 2. The first time is when Harry, Ron, and Hermione meet their friends in the Room of Requirement, and the second time is when Snape is sent out of the castle and the Order of the Phoenix takes over control. “Dumbledore’s Farewell,” composed by Nicholas Hooper for Half-Blood Prince, is integrated into Desplat’s “Severus and Lily” track which plays during “The Prince’s Tale” sequence. The final scene of Part 2 and the series, the epilogue set 19 years later, features “Leaving Hogwarts,” composed by John Williams, followed by the suite of “Hedwig’s Theme” for the end credits.
John Williams is an American composer born on February 8, 1932 in Long Island, New York. He is considered to be one of the greatest and most successful film composers of all time. In a career spanning over six decades, he has composed some of the most recognizable film scores in film history including: The Star Wars saga, Jaws, Superman, the Indiana Jones films, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Home Alone and its sequel, Hook, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, War Horse, Lincoln, Fiddler on the Roof, The Witches of Eastwick, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Amistad, The Patriot, Catch Me If You Can, Memoirs of a Geisha, Munich, The Adventures of Tintin, and of course, the first three Harry Potter films and notably the main theme, “Hedwig’s Theme.”
He has composed music for all but two of director Steven Spielberg’s major feature films. He also composed theme music for four Olympic Games, NBC Sunday Night Football, the NBC Nightly News, the Statue of Liberty’s rededication, the television series Lost in Space and Land of the Giants, and numerous classical concerti. He served as the Boston Pops Orchestra’s principal conductor from 1980 to 1993, and is now the orchestra’s conductor laureate.
Williams has won five Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, seven British Academy Film Awards and twenty-one Grammy Awards. With forty-eight Academy Award nominations, Williams is the second most-nominated person, after Walt Disney. Williams was honored with the prestigious Richard Kirk award at the 1999 BMI Film and TV Awards, which is an award given annually to a composer who has made significant contributions to film and television music. Williams was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame in 2000 and was a recipient of Kennedy Center Honors in 2004.
Williams studied privately with Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco at the University of California, Los Angeles. He was drafted into the US Air Force in 1952, where he conducted and arranged music for the US Air Force Band as part of his assignments. After his service ended in 1955, he moved to New York City to enter The Julliard School. He started his career as a jazz pianist but began to compose for TV and film in the 1960s. He has since scored more than 75 films. In April 2004, February 2006, September 2007, and October 2011, he conducted the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall in NYC. The program was intended to be a one-time special event and featured a medley of his Oscar-winning film scores. Its popularity led to more concerts in the next few years.
Patrick Doyle is a Scottish composer born on April 6, 1953 in Bireknshaw, Lanarksire, Scotland. He is a longtime collaborator of Kenneth Branagh, who played Gilderoy Lockhart in Chamber of Secrets, having scored nine of his films. He is best known for his work on the films, Henry V, Sense and Sensibility, Hamlet, Gosford Park, Eragon, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Thor, Brave, and of course, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. He has been nominated for two Academy Awards, a BAFTA Award, two Golden Globe Awards, one Satellite Award, and two Saturn Awards (one for Goblet of Fire).
Doyle graduated from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in 1974, where he studied piano and singing. He was made a Fellow of the academy in 2001. His film score debut occurred in 1989 with Branagh commissioned him to score Henry V. In October 1997, after scoring Great Expectations for Alfonso Cuarón, director of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, he was diagnosed with leukemia. He completed his score for Quest for Camelot while undergoing treatment in the hospital, and since made a full recovery. In 1998, Patrick Doyle’s Music from the Movies concert, sponsored by Leukaemia Research UK was staged at the Royal Albert Hall. It was directed by Branagh and starred several actors including Potter stars Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Imelda Staunton, and Robbie Coltrane.
Nicolas Hooper is a British film and television composer who is best known for his work on the Harry Potter series. He has scored award-winning BBC productions and TV movies. Hooper won a BAFTA Award in 2004 for best Original Score for The Young Visiters and a BAFTA for Best Original Television Music in 2007 for Prime Suspect: The Final Act.
Hooper is an old friend of director David Yates, and worked with him before on The Tichborne Claimant, The Way We Live Now, State of Play, The Young Visiters, and The Girl in the Café. He chose not to return for the final two installments, despite having been nominated for a Grammy for Half-Blood Prince. Hooper moved on to score the soundtrack to the Disney documentary African Cats, which was one of the 97 Original Scores eligible for a nomination at the 84th Academy Awards in 2011.
Alexandre Desplat is a French film composer born August 23, 1961 in Paris, France. He has received five Academy Award nominations, six BAFTA nominations, six Golden Globe nominations, and two Grammy nominations. He won a Golden Globe for The Painted Veil in 2007, a BAFTA for The King’s Speech in 2011, and a Satellite Award in 2012 for Argo. Desplat has worked on a large amount of prominent films such as: The Queen, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The King’s Speech, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, The Golden Compass, Julie & Julia, The Tree of Life, My Week With Marilyn, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Moonrise Kingdom, The Painted Veil, The Ides of March, The Girl with the Pearl Earring, Rise of the Guardians, and of course, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Part 2.
At the age of five, he began playing piano and became proficient on trumpet and flute. He studied in France and the US, and his musical interests were very wide. He swiftly became skilled as both a performer and composer. He has composed extensively for French cinema in addition to Hollywood and independent films, totaling over 100 films. Desplat has conducted performances of his music played by the London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Munich Symphony Orchestra. He has also given Master Classes at LA Sorbonne in Paris and the Royal College of Music in London.