SoundReels is Classical 101's podcast devoted to cinema music. Jon Sherman, associate professor of film at Kenyon College, joins midday host Jennifer Hambrick for a deep dive into epic film scores.

color exterior photograph of Highclere Castle as "Downton Abbey"
Focus Films /

The main theme of the hit television series Downton Abbey is as recognizable to the ear as Big Ben's iconic tower is to the eye, from its first pulsing eighth notes ticking away like the moments of a moribund way of life.

color photo of balloons lifting house in Up
Pixar, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / YouTube

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the animated film Up, directed by Pete Docter, produced by Pixar and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. Set initially in Ohio, Up unfolds in dazzling visuals the outlandish adventures of an elderly widower and a young boy. 

color photo of Jim Graham watching the P-51 Mustang in flight in Empire of the Sun
Amblin Entertainment /

September 2019 marks the 80th anniversary of Hitler's invasion of Poland, which opened the floodgates to World War II. On this occasion, this episode of SoundReels looks at a film set in the later years of the war.

Adrian Brody as Wladyslaw Szpilman in The Pianist.
Focus Features

September 1, 2019 is the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the combined Nazi and Soviet invasion of Poland, which marked the start of World War II.

This episode of SoundsReels explores producer and director Roman Polanski's 2002 film The Pianist and will take you back to that moment in history and into the harrowing true story of Polish-Jewish concert pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman's struggle to survive the brutal realities of the Polish invasion and the Warsaw Uprising.

color shot of Megasaki City from "Isle of Dogs"
FOX Searchlight /

Writer, director and producer Wes Anderson’s 2018 stop motion animation film Isle of Dogs was first screened at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival.

Anderson won that festival’s Silver Bear award for best director. The film and its musical score, with original music by Alexandre Desplat, also received nominations for Golden Globe, Critic’s Choice and Academy Awards, among others.

United Artists

Even if you’ve never seen the 1957 hit musical West Side Story, I'll bet you can hum the tune from "Tonight," "Maria," "America" or any number of the show's signature songs and dance pieces on command.

Columbia Pictures

Lawrence of Arabia is, hands down, one of the classics.

Odeon Films / Lionsgate

A violin with a past is fated to keep dooming the present.

The Mirisch Co. and Alpha Productions / United Artists Corp.

John Sturges' 1960 Western remake of Akira Kurosawa's classic film Seven Samurai features an intense musical score by one of the great composers of film music, Elmer Bernstein. 


Ah, the joys of summer — sunshine, long days, grilling on the patio — and movies.