2001: A Space Odyssey – The Lost Score

2001: A Space Odyssey - The Lost ScoreIt’s somewhat common knowledge that prior to tracking his entire two-and-a-half- hour science fiction opus with pieces from the classical repertoire, Stanley Kubrick had commissioned the prolific film composer Alex North – whose other screen accomplishments include Spartacus, Cleopatra and The Agony and the Ecstasy – to compose original music for 2001 along the lines of many classical numbers that Kubrick already had in mind. According to the very detailed liner notes booklet, which is admittedly biased in favor of the late Mr. North, who died in 1991, Kubrick kept North under the illusion that his original music would be used up until shortly before the film’s release; having completed the score up to the moon scenes in the movie, North was told that the entire second half of 2001 taking place aboard spaceships, in spacesuits and so on, would not be scored, but instead covered with “breathing effects.” In short – North’s services would no longer be required. Imagine North’s surprise when he went to the premiere of 2001 and heard the very classical numbers which Kubrick had asked him to approximate. To hear his wife tell it, Alex North stowed the manuscripts of his 2001 score away safely, and the only people aside from Kubrick who heard the music were Mrs. North and a close family friend by the name of Jerry Goldsmith. North, before his death, was finally persuaded to allow a fresh recording of his legendary brainchild to be conducted by Goldsmith. The results are quite satisfying indeed. North’s 2001 main title borrows the triplet structure of “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, but trades the almost religious sound of Strauss in for a somewhat more stately and heraldic tone. (Considering the immense scope of 2001, this could be one place where Kubrick’s choice was justified; indeed, though I like North’s work on the movie, I really do like the 4 out of 4movie’s soundtrack as it turned out.) The rest of North’s work is steeped in belligerence for the scenes of primitive man, intricate beauty for the grace of spaceflight, and mystery for the ambiguous story at the heart of the film. Somehow, a track-by-track breakdown of the existing half of North’s work doesn’t seem to carry enough weight to do the music justice. I highly recommend it.

Order this CD

  1. Main Title (1:37)
  2. The Foraging (3:44)
  3. Eat Meat and the Kill (3:27)
  4. The Bluff (3:01)
  5. Night Terrors (2:02)
  6. The Dawn of Man (3:14)
  7. Space Station Docking (2:22)
  8. Trip to the Moon (3:21)
  9. Moon Rocket Bus (5:01)
  10. Space Talk (3:30)
  11. Interior Orion (1:26)
  12. Main Theme Entr’acte (2:31)

Released by: Varese Sarabande
Release date: 1993
Total running time: 35:16