Birge's Picks

Variations on a Silver Screen

Film composer Elmer Bernstein attends the Walt Disney Concert Hall opening gala on in 2003 in Los Angeles. Chris Blumenshine/Getty Images

April 04, 2022

Monday is the 100th birthday anniversary of Elmer Bernstein, Oscar-winning composer for The Ten Commandments, The Great Escape, and The Magnificent Seven.  Epic scores all, yet for me his most affecting music is his gorgeous score for To Kill a Mockingbird.  Does any other music capture childhood, fragility and innocence more beautifully?

Thursday brings the next chapter in the annual Twin Cities Hitchcock Film Festival. This year it includes the 1942 rarity Saboteur,  and – just a few days after Doris Day’s 100th birthday anniversary – The Man Who Knew Too Much, in which music becomes a pivotal plot device, not only Doris Day’s heart-wrenchingly suspenseful take on “Que Sera, Sera,” but also in Arthur Benjamin’s Storm Cloud Cantata, the perfect musical coverup for an assassin’s bullet?

Saturday, the La Crosse Symphony plays “The Best of British Movie Scores,” including a visit from the fabulous pianist Alessio Bax performing Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.

The weekend also brings the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s new orchestral arrangement of Bach’s keyboard classic, the Goldberg Variations.  Although not originally movie music, its gentle theme has been used in many movies — including, to terrifying effect, in The Silence of the Lambs!