Inspired by space

July 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing. Here at MusiCB3 we’re celebrating with a mini exhibition of space related music in the Anderson Room, and posts here on the blog. Nearer the anniversary, we’re going to have a look at the music scene in 1969, but to kick off the celebrations, here’s a look at some space related music.

Of course, the moon has long been associated with romance from Victorian barcarolles…

… to popular music…

While the wonder of space has been used to introduce children to both science and music. One of my personal favourites, which we received under the Legal Deposit Act is a volume aimed at early years based around the musical by Jim Parker – Blast off! Mr. Jones goes to Jupiter. Who hasn’t been tempted at some point in their past to send their least favourite teacher out into the deepest reaches of space?

More seriously, some of the very best film music has been inspired by stories related to space travel, from the work of Bebe and Louis Barron, who wrote the first complete electronic film score for Forbidden Planet (a complete score guide by James Wierzbicki can be found at M735.c.02.4) to the work of John Williams (Star Wars), Alexander Courage (the original Star Trek TV theme) and Jerry Goldsmith (Alien, Star Trek films). Goldsmith’s films, particularly the space related scores, have featured in academic discourse.

Classical music has also been used and re-imagined for space related films. Famously Alex North’s original score for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 : A space odyssey was rejected by the director in favour of the “guide pieces” that he had used during filming. Hence in many minds the work of two un-related Strausses, Richard and Johann, are inextricably linked with science-fiction.

Composers have been inspired by the moon and the planets. Holst dedicated a whole suite to them, and Dvorak’s heroine, Rusalka, sang to the moon. While David Bowie’s Space Oddity was irretrievably lost in space.

A quick sweep around the office produced a number of moon related favourites…

Courtesy of Kate…
One of Catherine’s favourites…
From Sarah…
…and me.

What’s your favourite?


About mj263

Music Collections Supervisor at Cambridge University Library. Wide musical interests. Often to be found stuck in a composer's archive, or enthusing about antiquarian music.
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