Queen of Versailles

Composed By: Jeff Beal

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            The documentary, Queen of Versailles, focuses on the rise and fall of the Siegel family.  Made billionaires through their timeshare empire, the Siegels spent their money lavishly, even going so far as to create a mansion inspired by France's Versailles.  Unfortunately, the economic crisis has reeked havoc on the Siegel empire.  Faced with the reality of a failing real estate business and piling bills, the Siegels must make some very tough decisions.

            The musical score of Queen of Versailles was created by American composer Jeff Beal.  Growing up in a family with a love for music, it was inevitable that Jeff Beal would become involved with the art, beginning with the piano until he reached the third grade when he decided he wanted to learn the trumpet.  His grandmother on his father's side, an accomplished musician herself, got Beal interested in jazz.  Beginning as a performer and amassing a number of CD projects, he began composing for film and television after moving to Los Angeles in the mid-1990s.  Since then, he has composed a number of scores for such notable films as Pollock, Appaloosa and The Passion of Ayn Rand.  He has also composed music for television series such as Ugly Betty, Monk and In Plain Sight.

            The mansion based on the Versailles design was an inspirational tool for the creation of the musical score of the documentary.  The music has a distinct 17th Century style, featuring classical chamber music with harpsichord flourishes and horn fanfares.  According to Beal, "Since my days as a trumpeter I've been fascinated by the Baroque period of music, and the chance to use this as a springboard for some of the score in The Queen of Versailles was a real treat."

            The music begins on a bright note as the Siegel family builds their empire.  It is playful and richly content until the economic crisis begins to have an influence on the Siegel's fortunes.  At this point, the music becomes more somber, more serious, with guitar and piano solos accentuating moments of grief and stark realization.  All the while, the main theme of the Siegels can be heard in excerpts throughout the score.

            Not having checked out the promotional material prior to listening to the Queen of Versailles Soundtrack, my first impression was that this score had been that it was written for a historical fiction piece involving someone who either becomes Queen of Versailles, or rises in status to something akin to the Queen, and then comes to realize, after a series of sad events, that their status has either been stripped or is not what they thought it was.  I felt that the score told a story in a way that was both beautiful and just a little sad.  Now that I know what film the score was created for, I am in no way less impressed with the music.  In a way, it turns out that I was right - this is a score telling the tale of the rise and fall of a family who, in a way, equated themselves with the dwellers of Versailles.  The rise and fall of a prominent family is perfectly expressed in Jeff Beal's musical score and the beauty of the music serves to make the Queen of Versailles Soundtrack a perfect stand alone album as well.


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