Top 10 Classical Pieces that Influenced Television and Movie Scores

This list is about classical pieces in symphonies that influenced television show and movie scores, including those of the most famous TV shows and movies.
The Top Ten
1 Carmina Burana: 1. O Fortuna / 10. Were diu werlt alle min

The opera majorly influenced many composers such as John Williams for Padme Amidala and Obi-Wan's departure from Coruscant and arrival to Mustafar, as well as his and Darth Vader's battle on Mustafar in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. It also influenced Kylo Ren's theme in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, along with Trevor Jones for Last of the Mohicans during the massacre scene (yet this also played as the theme to Excalibur, whose scores are also played by Trevor Jones). It influenced Hans Zimmer for the love theme in Pirates of the Caribbean and many dramatic musical scores from people. It even inspired Globus for the intro to Preliator. Yet it even influenced many bands, including marching bands and school bands, along with Kevin MacLeod for some of his musical work and lately Avatar 2. What a classic operatic hit.

2 Holst: The Planets, Op.32 - 1. Mars, The Bringer Of War

This influenced entertainment in so many ways. For example, the theme song for Buck Rogers was believed to be influenced by this piece. This also influenced one of the scores for the original Star Trek series along with the end of one of the Alien movies. Plus, the most famous example was the intro to Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope by John Williams and the part where Luke Skywalker (which by the way R.I.P. in Ep VII - The Last Jedi) blew up the 1st Death Star (which seemed to influence the score of Chicken Little when he started to ring the school bell). Though don't forget this, however, was actually plagiarized in the battle of Gladiator by Hans Zimmer and he got sued for that. Anyway, it was a hit and never to be erased from memory.

3 Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring

Stravinsky influenced so many TV show and movie pieces with this masterpiece. The Rite of Spring was a ballet and symphony, and it influenced so many other artists.

Many TV/movie scores were influenced by this. For example, it influenced John Williams for the stormtrooper march in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. It also influenced the Jaws theme and the scene where C-3PO walked on the Dune Sea of Tatooine along with the Jawa sandmen, Leia's interrogation, the chase scene on Coruscant in Episode II - Attack of the Clones, and Hogwarts Forever in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Influences can also be found in the chase scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the battle of Coruscant and Utapau in Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, along with the Rathtar attack and Millennium Falcon chase scene in Episode VII - The Force Awakens.

Yet, the episode of the TV series Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures where Cloud City plunged into Bespin also seemed to take notes from this piece. This piece also influenced the scores of some popular kids' shows such as Rocko's Modern Life and SpongeBob SquarePants. This was a classical and iconic piece, yet a powerful one never to be forgotten.

4 Dvorák: New World Symphony

This captivated many scores, including the Jaws theme, along with the Duel of the Fates by John Williams in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. It was also used in the ceremony in Episode IV - A New Hope and by Howard Shore for the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit franchise. Additionally, it was featured in one of the soundtracks to Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas (which also influenced the track for the Foyer room at the entrance to Phantom Manor at Disneyland Paris). Yet, this was taken influence in NASA's movie about the Apollo 11 launch. A true classic.

5 Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake Ballet

It influenced John Williams for the Imperial March from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, along with Luke and Leia's theme in Ep V - The Empire Strikes Back (R.I.P. Luke and Leia) and Ep III - Revenge of the Sith, along with the Harry Potter theme. Yet, the ending also related to that of Stravinsky's Firebird Suite. They enjoyed Tchaikovsky's hit.

6 Wagner: Ride of the Valkyries

It inspired the instrumentation of the Star Wars theme and Imperial March along with the Phantom Manor score and war movies like Apocalypse Now, The Wire, and many others.

Much more famously used in war movies, such as "Apocalypse Now", as a symbol of unstoppable military onslaught.

7 Saint-Seans: Piano Concerto No. 2

Influenced John Williams for the Star Wars theme.

8 Holst: The Planets, Op.32 - 7. Neptune, The Mystic

Neptune has inspired so many creators like John Williams for many Star Wars episodes, along with Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark. Danny Elfman's scores for the Batman movies and other Tim Burton movies, along with The Wizard of Oz, Jerry Goldsmith (R.I.P.) for the Alien movies, along with Ligeti for the monolith scenes in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek, and even Harry Potter, along with the TV series Lost, Jim Powell for Robots, and Patrick Doyle for Nanny McPhee, along with some of Kevin MacLeod's musical work.

The choir influenced the underwater scenes on Naboo in The Phantom Menace, along with the constellation scene and the Solar Sail approaching Count Dooku's workplace on Coruscant in Episode II - Attack of the Clones, Padme's death and Vader's rebirth in Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, part of Episode IV - A New Hope, the Millennium Falcon approaching Bespin's Cloud City in Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, and the beginning of Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, along with scenes from the Star Trek OG series, Ligeti for the monolith scenes in 2001: A Space Odyssey, many of Danny Elfman's scores for Tim Burton's movies, The Wizard of Oz, the theme of Lost, Harry Potter, LOTR, Patrick Doyle for the theme of Nanny McPhee, John Powell for Rodney approaching Bigweld's room in Robots and the dark scenes in How to Train Your Dragon I & II, and even James Horner (R.I.P.) for the themes of Braveheart, Titanic, and Avatar. Plus, again, John Williams for Indiana Jones, like the map room in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Plus, this piece overall seemed to influence John Debney for the score of Phantom Manor at Disneyland Paris that plays when you enter the room that stretches.

All in all, this is a magical piece, all thanks to Gustav Holst. P.S. A shocking thing is that one of the scores for Phantom Manor compared to the Lost theme.

9 Holst: The Planets, Op.32 - 5. Saturn, The Bringer Of Old Age

This influenced John Williams for scores such as the map room in Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, the themes from Hellraiser, Jerry Goldsmith (R.I.P) for the theme of Alien, and even John Barry (R.I.P) for the Black Hole. It even seemed to influence John Debney for the Haunted Mansion at Disney parks. Pretty creepy, right? But a splendid original masterpiece in the name of Holst.

10 Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker - Arabian Ballet

Influenced John Williams for one of his scores in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope.

The Contenders
11 Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture

It became a staple for Russia and firework celebrations. It even influenced John Williams for the Star Wars theme, the Jurassic Park theme, and the Olympic theme.

12 Holst: The Planets, Op.32 - 4. Jupiter, The Bringer Of Jollity

It influenced many composers, including James Horner, who did the score for Braveheart, along with Howard Shore, who composed the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) theme, and Harry Gregson-Williams for the love theme from Shrek (and of course Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen) and Ice Age. Plus, John Williams' score for Jurassic Park seemed to be inspired by this in a way, yet the soundtrack from the SpongeBob episode about the Krusty Krab Training Video seemed to take notes from this piece.

It also influenced the theme of Totoro. Plus, Zelda's music seemed to take notes from this, as well as the Morrowind theme by Jeremy Soule. Yet, this influenced 2001: A Space Odyssey and Jason and the Argonauts, as well as Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin (R.I.P.) and Pirates of the Caribbean by Hans Zimmer. Yet, this was used in the hymn I Vow to Thee My Country, all showing us how powerful and influential this piece was.

13 Respighi: Pini Di Roma (Pines Of Rome)

It made huge headlines in the world as his biggest hit and influenced many movies of genres including science fiction and fantasy. Not only was it fit for war and victory, but it also appeared to influence Johann Strauss for the theme of 2001: A Space Odyssey (Zarathustra), along with the theme for Michael Giacchino for Star Trek: Enterprise and Wrath of Khan, along with John Williams for the ending score of E.T. the Extra Terrestrial and the dream tree scenes from The B.F.G. (which unfortunately flopped at the box office).

It especially influenced the scenery from Fantasia 2000, but instead of showing pine trees or war, they showed flying whales, which really fit. It was played in the grand opening of Walt Disney World on October 1st, 1971, and EPCOT's IllumiNations NYE celebrations (R.I.P. IllumiNations after nearly 20 years). Anyway, it was a hit in the music and entertainment industry alike and one we'll never forget.

14 Debussy: La fille aux cheveux de lin (Maid With The Flaxen Hair)

Debussy's piece influenced John Williams for his piece on Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace where Anakin Skywalker's pod racer roared to life.

15 Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Kings Row Theme

It's obvious this influenced the Star Wars theme by John Williams just by listening to it.

16 Beethoven: Symphony No.9

Beethoven's powerful symphony influenced many movie composers, especially Hans Zimmer for the Superman and Pirates of the Caribbean scores and John Williams for the Indiana Jones and Star Wars ending themes. It was a hit. It even included Ode to Joy, which had many renditions, including those on commercials due to its influence.

17 Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker - Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy

It influenced many artists with their own renditions. Even composers like John Williams were inspired to do the scores of movies like Home Alone 1 and 2, the Harry Potter films, and even Star Wars movies (using a celeste). There's no doubt about how much this impacted culture in general.

18 Holst: The Planets, Op.32 - 2. Venus, The Bringer Of Peace

It had a romantic style and influenced many works of entertainment, including classic cartoons like Looney Tunes. It even inspired John Williams for Luke and Leia's theme in the original movie, Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (yet it influenced him for the Force theme). It was even played in some documentaries about space exploration.

19 Holst: The Planets, Op.32 - 6. Uranus, The Magician

This piece compares to the music used in traditional magic and circus shows. It apparently influenced Danny Elfman for his scores, along with John Williams for the Star Wars Imperial March and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (which in turn apparently influenced the title score of season 7, episode 4 of SpongeBob SquarePants on Nickelodeon). But what's most fascinating is that this was apparently influenced by the Sorcerer's Apprentice by Paul Dukas, yet this is titled The Magician and TSA was also about magic.

20 Holst: The Planets, Op.32 - 3. Mercury, The Winged Messenger

It influenced many scores, including the Bug's Life score from Pixar and those of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

21 Symphony No. 25 - Mozart
22 Edvard Grieg: Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, In the Hall of the Mountain King

It was apparently influenced in the soundtrack from the sequel to Nanny McPhee when she took the children to the British Museum.

23 Pachelbel: Canon in D

It has been covered in many shows and films. It apparently influenced Somewhere in My Memory by John Williams from the Home Alone films as well as the American Girl film Samantha (Holiday), all fitting the Christmas aspect.

24 Jacques Offenbach: Orpheus in the Underworld, Infernal Galop

Although it was covered in so many films and TV series, the "original" tracks that were apparently influenced by this were the running tunes from A Christmas Story by Carl Zittrer and Paul Zaza. Though the finale of the overture to William Tell apparently influenced the tunes as well.

25 Edvard Grieg: Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46 - The Death of Ase

It was apparently the inspiration for the immolation scene, the soundtrack played when Obi-Wan left Darth Vader on Mustafar burning, as seen in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. It also inspired I Could've Done More from Schindler's List by Itzhak Perlman and John Williams.

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