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Band of Brothers
Composed, Co-Orchestrated, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:
Michael Kamen

Co-Orchestrated by:
Robert Elhai
Geoff Alexander
Blake Neely

Co-Produced by:
James Brett
Michael Price

Sony Classical

Release Date:
August 28th, 2001

Also See:
Saving Private Ryan
Medal of Honor

Audio Clips:
1. Main Theme (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

2. Band of Brothers Suite One (0:33):
WMA (213K)  MP3 (264K)
Real Audio (164K)

4. The Mission Begins (0:34):
WMA (220K)  MP3 (274K)
Real Audio (171K)

20. Band of Brothers Requiem (0:33):
WMA (213K)  MP3 (263K)
Real Audio (164K)

Regular U.S. release.


Band of Brothers

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Buy it... if you don't own a Michael Kamen score and are looking for one that combines his blazing thematic heroics with the restrained atmosphere of his classical sensibilities.

Avoid it... if you simply can't fathom a relatively obvious rearrangement of Kamen's spirited title theme from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves for a serious World War II drama.

Band of Brothers: (Michael Kamen) HBO's prize of 2001, Band of Brothers was not only a superior mini-series from top to bottom, winning the most coveted Emmy and Golden Globe awards, but it was also a promotional juggernaut that had built invaluable momentum throughout the months before its debut. It was a production from Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, recounting yet another World War II story by Saving Private Ryan inspiration Stephen E. Ambrose. The story of the Easy Company, the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army, is the centerpiece of the ten hour epic series, with the primary characters played by a relatively unknown cast of young actors. The narrative of the group of paratroopers follows their actions from their training through the Battle of the Bulge and the capture of Hitler's Eagle's Nest. Interestingly, Band of Brothers was the first HBO mini-series or film to be both shot and presented in HDTV. The series' music by Michael Kamen was a labor of love for the composer, swamping him with the incredible volume of compositions that he would be required to write. Earlier in the year, Kamen was working on a frustrating demo process with the producers of Tomb Raider when the opportunity to join Band of Brothers came knocking on his door, and the composer wisely jumped from the sinking Tomb Raider ship and began writing a painstakingly awesome amount of music for the HBO event. Unlike the director's seat, which would hold many well known directors for the different parts of the series, Kamen was the sole composer for the entire project. The large (and by some reports, highly overblown) budget for the project, the most expensive in the history of HBO, allowed Kamen to employ the London Metropolitan Orchestra and a full chorus of voices to complete an impressive ensemble. Kamen had been nominated for his title theme and episodic work on another Tom Hanks HBO production, From the Earth to the Moon, and he rose to the occasion once again in 2001. While Band of Brothers surprisingly did not earn the composer any major award nominations, it is commonly considered his last great score before his untimely death not long thereafter.

One listen to the opening titles for Band of Brothers will explain exactly why Kamen fled Tomb Raider for this project. Many film score collectors believed at the time that Kamen's best recent work had existed for HBO films, with his feature film scores like X-Men failing to stimulate much of a widespread (or positive) response. The composer spent much of his time writing classical pieces (which he had always been interested in exploring in addition to film scoring) for concert performances and album recordings, and this experience would prove important to his approach to Band of Brothers. With such a mass of music to write for the series, Kamen had the opportunity to compose miniature classical movements for each episode. Both the structural style and orchestration, as well as (to an extent) the handling of themes, will likely prove to be popular with collectors of contemporary classical music. The title theme for the show is nothing short of spectacular, combining the very best of Kamen's classical and concert style with the adventuresome brass and percussion of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, which endures as his most popular score. Some listeners maybe bothered by a few blatant similarities in progression between this theme and that of Robin Hood, though this recording doesn't suffer from any of the vibrancy or performance errors that plagued the 1991 presentation. A slight hint of the early swashbuckling spirit of Bruce Broughton and James Horner can be heard in the title theme here as well, exploding with exuberance in its primary and secondary variants in the album's first three tracks. In its ability to capture both the danger and historical proportion of the epic story, the show's main theme is superior to even that of From the Earth to the Moon. Kamen managed to pull it off with a sense of class and significance that served to accompany the stunning visuals without glorifying the heroics of the men. The use of voices throughout, ranging from the heavy adult chorus in "Main Theme" to the lighter, more contemporary female vocals in "Band of Brothers Requiem," are a stunning highlight. The merging of the vocal tones with a few familiar progressions have created understandable comparisons between the final track on this album and Horner's equally noble Apollo 13.

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Comparisons were also inevitably drawn between this production and Saving Private Ryan, for which John Williams wrote a score that was ultimately respected by all but loved on album by only some. The Band of Brothers score's album presentation is very similar to that of Saving Private Ryan, with the solemn, but inspiring spirit of a hymn built into a thematic performances at the beginning and end. Both scores feature a somber and introverted underscore extending for the mass of the albums and films' time. From "Swamp" to "Austria," essentially making up the entirety of the actual episodic material in Band of Brothers, Kamen maintains an extremely restrained and melancholy atmosphere of small ensemble grace, informed obviously by the composer's classical sensibilities. Engaging solo performances on woodwinds and strings are common in these sections, but compared to the momentous title theme, the two lengthy suites, the opening cue of the mission, and the closing requiem, the underscore will potentially pass most listeners with little notice. Band of Brothers easily features a more rounded and complete balance of honorable theme and subdued underscore than Saving Private Ryan, however. The instrumentation and tone employed by Kamen is very restrained, closer to Williams' approach than Michael Giacchino's for the video game adaptation of Saving Private Ryan from 1999, Medal of Honor. Ironically, both Medal of Honor and Band of Brothers have turned out to be more dynamic and exciting scores than Saving Private Ryan, though a true fan of the World War II fighting genre will likely be able to appreciate all three for what they are and how they represent their composers. Kamen's work for Band of Brothers, even with its less inspiring moments of extended underscore at minimal volumes (and marginal thematic extension), is an outstanding achievement. Not only does it impress in length, but its title theme and choral elements feature the rare quality of scope in the television film genre. Kamen's music for Band of Brothers has proven to maintain its popularity throughout the years, living up to the expectations that were forced upon it by the prominent use of Horner's Legends of the Fall in the initial trailers for the show. If you don't own a Kamen score, then this is a safe place to start. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Michael Kamen reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.14 (in 14 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.21 (in 32,993 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.95 Stars
Smart Average: 3.69 Stars*
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 69:55

• 1. Main Theme (2:24)
• 2. Band of Brothers Suite One (6:31)
• 3. Band of Brothers Suite Two (9:15)
• 4. The Mission Begins (5:50)
• 5. Swamp (2:08)
• 6. Spiers' Speech (1:02)
• 7. Fire on Lake (2:16)
• 8. Parapluie (2:17)
• 9. Boy Eats Chocolate (1:18)
• 10. Bull's Theme (3:21)
• 11. Winters on Subway (1:54)
• 12. Headscarf (4:11)
• 13. Buck in Hospital (2:01)
• 14. Plaisir D'amour (1:56)
• 15. Preparing for Patrol (2:32)
• 16. String Quartet in C-Sharp Minor (Opus 131) - written by Beethoven (2:13)
• 17. Discovery of the Camp (10:59)
• 18. Nixon's Walk (2:18)
• 19. Austria (2:01)
• 20. Band of Brothers Requiem - performed by Maire Brennan and Zoe Kamen (3:18)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes extensive credits, but surprisingly offers no extra information about the series or score.

  All artwork and sound clips from Band of Brothers are Copyright © 2001, Sony Classical. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 8/29/01 and last updated 1/29/09. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2001-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.