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Saving Private Ryan
Album Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:

Performed by:
The Boston Symphony Orchestra and The Tanglewood Festival Chorus

Brass Solos by:
Tim Morrison

Orchestrated by:
John Neufeld
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Dreamworks Records
(July 21st, 1998)
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Regular U.S. release.
Winner of a Grammy Award and nominated for a Golden Globe, a BAFTA Award, and an Academy Award.
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... only if you are a true John Williams collector, for Saving Private Ryan is among the maestro's least enjoyable stand-alone listening experiences.

Avoid it... if you expect the dramatic weight of the music for Schindler's List or the dynamic, engaging appeal of Williams' other famous scores for Steven Spielberg's films.
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WRITTEN 7/21/98, REVISED 3/11/08
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iTunes (5.99)

Saving Private Ryan: (John Williams) Director Steven Spielberg's two World War II masterpieces of the 1990's unanimously rank among the top war films of all time, but whereas Schindler's List used the greater concepts of good and evil to jerk your tears, Saving Private Ryan did so with the terrifyingly realistic depiction of the lives of common soldiers. The film easily swept through 1998 with the most consistently positive critical reviews seen in years, and only the brutal and gory nature of the story's execution (which almost gained the film an NC-17 rating) deterred audiences enough to quell the overwhelming popular interest that usually accompanied a Spielberg film. Robert Rodat's screenplay, Spielberg's direction, and an ensemble cast that acts with subtlety cause a compelling tale of the American military's attempt to return one soldier home from France to convey a level of respect rarely seen on film. The emotionally powerful production left Spielberg's usual collaborating composer, John Williams, in a difficult position. Williams' scores for Spielberg films, including Schindler's List, were a sure ticket to dramatic success, and yet, Saving Private Ryan presented a number of unique challenges for the maestro. First, the film's major scenes of action would be absent any music, allowing the explosively impressive sound effects editing to more accurately represent the atmosphere of combat. Secondly, the music that Williams provided would amount to less than an hour in length and was to be mixed during only transitional scenes that allowed audiences a temporary break. As such, the score's presence was not dominant enough to allow for significant thematic development for the plethora of characters in Private Ryan's unit. At best, Williams could only provide an overarching representation for their struggle together, and within the short confines of his occasional synchronization points, any development of those ideas would be minimal. Finally, the film had used the dramatic theme to Marc Shaiman's The American President over its highly popular trailers, and that music is about as far from the restrained approach that Williams would take with the film as possible.

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Average: 3.34 Stars
***** 2,713 5 Stars
**** 2,794 4 Stars
*** 3,765 3 Stars
** 2,324 2 Stars
* 789 1 Stars
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Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
Total Time: 64:12
• 1. Hymn to the Fallen (6:10)
• 2. Revisiting Normandy (4:06)
• 3. Omaha Beach (9:15)
• 4. Finding Private Ryan (4:37)
• 5. Approaching the Enemy (4:31)
• 6. Defense Preparations (5:54)
• 7. Wade's Death (4:30)
• 8. High School Teacher (11:03)
• 9. The Last Battle (7:57)
• 10. Hymn to the Fallen (Reprise) (6:10)

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The insert includes the following note from Steven Spielberg:

"With Saving Private Ryan, John Williams has written a memorial for all the soldiers who sacrificed themselves on the altar of freedom in the Normandy Invasion on June 6, 1944. Pay particular attention to the cue entitled 'Hymn to the Fallen,' which never appears in the main text of the film, only at the end credit roll. It's a piece of music and a testament to John Williams' sensitivity and brilliance that, in my opinion, will stand the test of time and honor forever the fallen of this war and possibly all wars.

In all of our 16 collaborations, Saving Private Ryan possibly contains the least amount of score. Restraint was John Williams' primary objective. He did not want to sentimentalize or create emotion from what already existed in raw form. Saving Private Ryan is furious and relentless, as are all wars, but where there is music, it is exactly where John Williams intends for us the chance to breathe and remember.

As with Schindler's List, John Williams chose the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the deeply resonant qualities of Symphony Hall to record the score for Saving Private Ryan. I would like to give special mention to Tim Morrison, Thomas Rolfs (trumpets) and Gus Sebring (French horn) for their heartfelt solos, and to Kenny Wannberg, who has been a close collaborator of John Williams and mine from almost the very beginning of my career."
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The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Saving Private Ryan are Copyright © 1998, Dreamworks Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 7/21/98 and last updated 3/11/08.
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