The 9 Most Used Classical Music Pieces in Movies You Must Know

by Patria
The Wolf of Wall Street

Classical music has played a significant role in the world of cinema, enhancing storytelling, evoking emotions, and creating memorable moments. Certain pieces have become almost synonymous with the scenes they accompany, to the point that hearing them can instantly recall images from the films in which they were used. In this article, we will explore the most frequently used classical music in movies, examining why they have become so popular and iconic in the film industry.

The Power of Classical Music in Film

Classical music’s enduring presence in cinema can be attributed to its emotional depth, versatility, and timelessness. Directors and composers often choose classical pieces to:

Set the Mood: Classical music can evoke a wide range of emotions, from joy to sorrow, tension to relief. Its ability to convey complex feelings makes it an invaluable tool in filmmaking.

Enhance Storytelling: Music can act as a narrative device, guiding the audience’s emotions and highlighting key moments in the story.

Create Iconic Scenes: Some classical pieces have become so closely associated with certain scenes that they are instantly recognizable, adding to the film’s cultural impact.

Add Authenticity and Gravitas: The use of classical music can lend a sense of sophistication and depth to a film, enhancing its overall aesthetic.

The Most Frequently Used Classical Pieces in Movies

1. Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 (“Ode to Joy”)

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, particularly the “Ode to Joy” segment, is one of the most celebrated pieces of classical music in cinema. Its powerful and uplifting melody has been used to underscore moments of triumph, unity, and profound emotion.

Films Featuring “Ode to Joy”:

Die Hard (1988): The piece is famously used during the film’s climax, adding a dramatic and somewhat ironic backdrop to the action.

A Clockwork Orange (1971): Stanley Kubrick used “Ode to Joy” to juxtapose the ultra-violent tendencies of the protagonist with the sublime nature of Beethoven’s music.

Immortal Beloved (1994): This biographical film about Beethoven naturally features many of his works, with “Ode to Joy” being a centerpiece.

2. Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries”

Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” is a powerful and dramatic piece that has been used in numerous films to evoke a sense of epic action and grandeur.

Films Featuring “Ride of the Valkyries”:

Apocalypse Now (1979): Francis Ford Coppola used this piece during the iconic helicopter assault scene, creating one of the most memorable sequences in film history.

The Blues Brothers (1980): The piece is humorously used during a scene involving a high-speed chase through a shopping mall.

Valkyrie (2008): The film about the plot to assassinate Hitler features the piece as a nod to its title and the mythological themes.

3. Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565”

Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” is synonymous with mystery, horror, and the supernatural, making it a popular choice for films in these genres.

Films Featuring “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor”:

Fantasia (1940): Disney’s animated masterpiece uses the piece in a visually stunning segment that introduces viewers to the power of classical music.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931): This classic horror film uses the piece to underscore the transformation scenes, enhancing the eerie atmosphere.

The Phantom of the Opera (1925): The silent film version of this classic story uses the piece to evoke the menacing presence of the Phantom.

4. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Requiem”

Mozart’s “Requiem” is a deeply emotional and haunting piece that has been used to great effect in films dealing with themes of mortality and the divine.

Films Featuring “Requiem”:

Amadeus (1984): This biographical film about Mozart naturally features his music prominently, with the “Requiem” playing a significant role in the narrative.

The Big Lebowski (1998): The “Requiem” is used in a surreal dream sequence, adding to the film’s unique and eclectic style.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999): Stanley Kubrick uses the piece to enhance the film’s mysterious and unsettling atmosphere.

5. Antonio Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”

Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” is a set of four violin concertos that vividly depict the different times of the year. Its lively and evocative movements have made it a popular choice for various film scenes.

Films Featuring “The Four Seasons”:

A View to a Kill (1985): The piece is used during a dramatic horse-riding scene, adding to the elegance and tension of the moment.

The Other Sister (1999): The film uses “Spring” to underscore a joyful and romantic montage.

Runaway Bride (1999): Vivaldi’s music adds a touch of classical charm to the film’s wedding scenes.

6. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake”

Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” is a ballet score that has become synonymous with grace, beauty, and drama. Its use in film often highlights moments of elegance and emotional intensity.

Films Featuring “Swan Lake”:

Black Swan (2010): The film, centered around a production of “Swan Lake,” extensively uses the music to enhance its psychological and dramatic elements.

Billy Elliot (2000): The piece underscores the protagonist’s passion for ballet, adding to the film’s emotional resonance.

Dracula (1931): The opening credits of this classic horror film feature “Swan Lake,” setting a haunting and elegant tone.

7. Johann Strauss II’s “The Blue Danube”

Strauss’s “The Blue Danube” is one of the most famous waltzes in classical music, often used to convey elegance, beauty, and the passage of time.

Films Featuring “The Blue Danube”:

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): Stanley Kubrick’s use of the waltz during a space docking sequence created an iconic and surreal moment in film history.

Titanic (1997): The piece is played during the ship’s final dinner service, adding a touch of tragic elegance.

The Godfather Part II (1974): The waltz is used during a New Year’s Eve party scene, contrasting the festive atmosphere with the underlying tension of the story.

8. Giuseppe Verdi’s “La donna è mobile” from “Rigoletto”

Verdi’s “La donna è mobile” is a lively and recognizable aria that often appears in films to add a touch of Italian opera flair and to underscore themes of love and deception.

Films Featuring “La donna è mobile”:

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013): The aria is used during a yacht scene, adding to the film’s opulent and extravagant tone.

Fitzcarraldo (1982): The piece underscores the protagonist’s obsession with bringing opera to the Amazon jungle.

The Family Man (2000): The aria adds a light-hearted and humorous touch to a key scene in the film.

9. Sergei Prokofiev’s “Montagues and Capulets” from “Romeo and Juliet”

Prokofiev’s “Montagues and Capulets” is a powerful and dramatic piece that has become synonymous with conflict and intensity.

Films Featuring “Montagues and Capulets”:

Caligula (1979): The piece underscores the film’s dramatic and intense scenes.

Romeo + Juliet (1996): Baz Luhrmann’s modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s play uses the piece to enhance the story’s dramatic elements.

The Apprentice (2004-2017): The piece is famously used as the show’s theme music, adding to the high-stakes atmosphere.

See Also: Classical Music vs World Music: What is the Difference?


Classical music has a unique ability to enhance the emotional and narrative depth of films. The pieces mentioned in this article have become iconic through their repeated use in cinema, each bringing a distinct flavor and resonance to the scenes they accompany. From the triumphant strains of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” to the haunting melodies of Mozart’s “Requiem,” these compositions have left an indelible mark on both the world of classical music and the art of filmmaking. Their timeless appeal ensures that they will continue to be a vital part of cinema for years to come.

related articles

Dive into the enchanting world of music at, your ultimate destination for discovering new and diverse sounds. From emerging artists to timeless classics, embark on a musical journey that transcends genres and captivates your senses.

Copyright © 2023