The Music of Batman
Musical Score By: Various Artists
Performed By: The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus
Distributed by: Silva Screen Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Having been a fan of Batman for many years, I have read the comics, watched the live action television series, watched the animated television series, and seen the movies (yes, unfortunately all of them). So, when I received an offer to review The Music of Batman as performed by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus, I jumped at the opportunity.
The music of Batman is something you don’t forget easily. I grew up listening to the campy version created for the television series by Neal Hefti: “Nana, nana, nana, nana na, BATMAN!” That was the sound you associated with Batman for many years until Denny Elfman composed the musical score for the 1989 Tim Burton Batman film starring Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader: “bah, bah bah BAH, ba, bah.” Until Batman Begins came around, this was the Batman theme. With Batman Begins, the musical score was more dramatic. There was less focus on one particular theme and more focus on the music as it befit the scenes in the film.
The Music of Batman features music from all of these generations of Batman. The first six tracks are from the original Batman film with Michael Keaton. Composer Danny Elfman uses a great deal of horns and percussion in this musical score. The Joker is featured prominently in this film and Danny Elfman defines him perfectly in Waltz to the Death, which begins as a quirky circus-like theme but ends rather darkly. Batman Returns is also featured on this album in the track End Titles by Danny Elfman. The musical score of the next two films in the series, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, are composed by Elliot Goldenthal, who uses Danny Elfman’s original theme and supplements it with orchestral and choral fanfare. This is followed by James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer’s compositions from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, both vastly different from the musical scores of the first four films as they are darker and more dramatic.
Following the musical scores from the Batman films are musical scores from two animated Batman features. The musical score of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, as composed by Shirley Walker, is a dark and ominous orchestral creation made more powerful by the choir that accompanies the music. The End Credits of Batman: Gotham Knight, composed by Christopher Drake, seems to feature musical characteristics of all six films. Tracks 14 and 15 are Retro Batman and feature the Nelson Riddle musical score for Batman: The Movie and that ever popular and catchy tune created for the Batman television series by Neal Hefti.
It was interesting to see the different incarnations of the Batman theme and the variety of styles featured by the various artists as they attempted to define Batman through music. The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus always supplies a beautiful performance and this album is no exception. Fans of all incarnations of Batman are going to want to get their hands on The Music of Batman, where they can enjoy the sounds of Batman that they are used to and experience the music of Batman from other eras. I found this album to be very entertaining and I don’t doubt that other fans of the Caped Crusader will feel the same.