Popular Classical Music in Movies

From “A Clockwork Orange” to “The Godfather,” many popular movies feature classical pieces. Get to know some of the most popular classical pieces used in film.


Classical music has been used in movies for decades, and there are a number of well-known pieces that have become closely associated with certain films. In some cases the music was composed specifically for the movie, while in others it was existing classical pieces that were used to enhance the on-screen action.

Here are some of the most popular classical pieces that have been used in movies:

1. “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” by Mozart – Used in many films, including The Shawshank Redemption, Amadeus and Romeo + Juliet
2. “Clair de Lune” by Debussy – Featured in numerous films, including Ocean’s Eleven, The Notebook and Napoleon Dynamite
3. “Requiem” by Verdi – Used memorably in The Godfather
4. “Ride of the Valkyries” by Wagner – Made famous by its use in Apocalypse Now
5. “The Four Seasons” by Vivaldi – Used in several films, including The Parent Trap and Notting Hill

The Godfather

One of the most popular classical pieces used in movies is “The Godfather” by Nino Rota. The Godfather is a 1972 American crime drama film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Albert S. Ruddy, based on Mario Puzo’s best-selling novel of the same name. It stars Marlon Brando and Al Pacino as the leaders of a fictional New York City crime family. The music in the film was composed by Carmine Coppola, Nino Rota, and Garrick Heywood, and conducted by exposed underbelly of the Mafia.

Other popular classical pieces used in movies include “Pomp and Circumstance” by Edward Elgar, “Ride of the Valkyries” by Richard Wagner, and “O Fortuna” from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.

The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption is one of the most popular and well-loved films of all time, and part of its charm lies in its use of classical music. The film’s score was composed by Thomas Newman, but it also features a number of well-known pieces by other composers, including Bach, Mozart, and Verdi.

One of the most memorable moments in the film is when Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins) first arrives at Shawshank Prison and is met with the sight of the prisoners working in the yard. The scene is set to the poignant strains of “Canon in D Major” by Johann Pachelbel, which immediately sets the tone for the film.

Other classical pieces used in The Shawshank Redemption include Mozart’s “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” (used during a montage of Andy’s early years in prison), Verdi’s “Requiem” (played during a montage of Andy’s escape from Shawshank), and Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” (played during the final scene when Andy is reunited with his friend Red).

The use of classical music in The Shawshank Redemption helps to create an unforgettable cinematic experience that has left a lasting impression on viewers for decades.

Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump is a 1994 American comedy-drama film directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Eric Roth. The film stars Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, and Sally Field. The story depicts several decades in the life of Forrest Gump (Hanks), a slow-witted but kind-hearted man from Alabama who witnesses and unwittingly influences several defining historical events in the 20th century United States.

The film differs greatly from Conrad’s novel, which revolves around darker themes such as post-traumatic stress disorder, violence, suicide, and sexual abuse. In the film, Forrest is portrayed as an innocent everyman who goes through many challenges in his lifetime but always manages to do the right thing despite limited intellectual capacity. Although Forrest is dim-witted, he possesses pure childlike innocence which guides him through his life’s journey; this is conveyed through his conversations with Jenny (Wright).

One of the most iconic scenes in the movie is when Forrest is running across America; this scene is set to the tune of “Running on Empty” by Jackson Browne. Another memorable scene is set at the Watergate Hotel; Forrest stands outside the entrance as people are seen coming and going; this scene is set to “Piano Concerto No. 1” by Sergei Rachmaninoff.

The Dark Knight

The soundtrack for Christopher Nolan’s superhero movie The Dark Knight features several pieces of popular classical music. These include “The Prestige” by Lucien Cailliet, ” Batman Forever” by Elliot Goldenthal, and ” The Dark Knight Rises” by Hans Zimmer.


In conclusion, there are many different types of classical music that are popular in movies. These include traditional pieces such as Bach and Beethoven, as well as more modern composers such as John Williams. In addition, many soundtracks feature a mix of both traditional and modern classical pieces.

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