Composer Danny Elfman Returns with Tulip Fever

Aug. 11, 2017
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In a partnership that will remind classic film buffs of Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Hitchcock, composer Danny Elfman and director Tim Burton have forged an enduring relationship between music and motion pictures. One difference: Elfman and Burton have worked together longer, and on more films, than their predecessors.

Elfman has branched out over the years, working with other filmmakers, including the soundtrack (out now on CD) for director Justin Chadwick’s upcoming Tulip Fever. The film, starring Alicia Vikander, is set in 17th century Amsterdam at that moment when the commodity of speculation wasn’t petroleum but tulips, then an exotic newcomer in Europe in great demand for its shapely beauty.

Elfman makes no attempt to imagine the music of that time and place but keys into the moods on screen. He eschews pop melodies, pensively tinkling pianos, low-bass electronics and the other dull devices of most contemporary soundtrack hacks. Like Herrmann and other composers from Hollywood’s golden age, he draws with the full palette of an orchestra in a symphonic style that would not have been unfamiliar a century ago. Little wonder Elfman has also been premiering sonatas and other original classical works for concert stages.

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