9/11 Remembered

On Friday I attended the Utah Symphony Orchestra with my wife and parents. The first piece was “On the Transmigration of Souls” by John Adams, written to commemorate the victims of the 9/11 attack. I don’t care for modern classical music (unless movie soundtracks count, which for some I reason I don’t think they do…).

The reason we had bought the tickets was for the second piece, Beethoven’s 9th symphony. It was a fantastic performance that had the four of us pretty floored. My dad’s comment was “I don’t know how long it will be before I can stand listening to a recording again” (He has over 10 separate recordings of the 9th). The second movement was particularly well done.

So why am I talking about Beethoven in a post about 9/11? Well, the “Transmigration” piece was pretty effective at communicating fear, grief, confusion, and anger. But there were other responses and emotions during that time besides fear, confusion and anger. In fact, if that was the only response and the only way that we remembered it then the terrorists who carried out the attack will indeed have succeeded in their goal.

Ten years ago I was headed out the door when our neighbor called and told me to turn on the TV. I was in time to see the second tower fall.

There was a lot of fear, and confusion, and even anger. Almost 3,000 people died. But the fear and confusion that I felt does not compare to the hope and pride that I felt as I watched the many selfless acts that followed. I remember almost crying with pride and joy as I watched the New York City streets lined with onlookers cheering on the firefighters, policemen, doctors, and other volunteers as they headed into the chaos. As they did their best to save as many people as they could. As we heard of Flight 93, who gave their lives to thwart their hijackers plans.

Regardless of how politicians have used this event for one purpose or another, or even considering a number of conspiracy theories surrounding the destruction of the World Trade Center, what really struck me was the courage and strength of the people of this nation. We live in a time where we talk of the great evils of this world; immorality, drugs, gangs, corrupt governments, greedy corporations–there is almost no end to all the evil things in this world.

I do not like to focus on the negative. These things do exist, and we should not pretend that they don’t. I do believe there is far more in this world that is good. People are better than we think they are. and you know, Beethoven does a pretty good job of capturing some of those emotions and feelings.

“Oh friends, not these tones! Rather, let us raise our voices in more pleasing And more joyful sounds!”

Perhaps that is why they decided to pair those two pieces together. There was loss and grief and mourning. There was also hope and courage and strength. And that is what I wish to focus on when I remember 9/11. The time when I became proud to be an American.

How to Train Your Dragon: Family Bonding

Yesterday my wife and I decided on the spur of the moment to go see “How To Train Your Dragon” Since it was spur of the moment, our babysitting options were short. We figured it was a kid’s movie, so we could go ahead and take the kids.

…That might have been a mistake. Our toddler daughter loved seeing the dragons flying, but got bored about halfway through the movie. Meanwhile our baby son got hungry, so we had to buy some gummy bears to feed him throughout the movie (yes, we did give him real sustenance afterward).

Having said that, the movie was awesome. I mean, awesome! It was like taking my childhood daydreams and making a movie from them!

It was also a great bonding moment for my boy and I–at the end of the movie I discovered that both of us were covered in sticky, half-chewed gummy bears.

Classical Soundtracks

I have to say, I quite enjoy a lot of John Williams’ soundtracks. When the initial Harry Potter films and the Star Wars prequels came out, I rather poo-pooed his music, as it didn’t seem to really contribute much to the films and what was going on–it was more background noise than anything (However, if you think about the movies that said music was for, then perhaps it is excusable to have written background-noise music for background-noise movies).

At any rate, I’ve been listening to his music again recently, and have enjoyed a fair amount of it. It was rather interesting to listen to the Harry Potter soundtracks in order. In the first one only the main theme is listenable, the second one has a little more music that is good (Phawkes’ theme), and the third has a fair amount of music that I enjoy.

Here are some of my favorites from John Williams:

  • Star Wars – Throne Room, Empire March, Asteroid field, Yoda’s Death, Luke and Vader fight
  • Hook – Main theme, “You are the Pan”
  • Harry Potter – Phawkes’ theme, Hedwig’s theme, Buckbeak’s flight, A Window to the Past
  • Empire of the Sun – Cadillac of the Skies
  • The Patriot – Preparing for Battle
  • Indiana Jones – Main theme, Grail theme, and “Scherzo for Motorcycle & Orchestra” (mostly because of the title)
  • Jurassic Park – Main theme, Dinosaur theme


Some of my other favorite classical soundtracks/composers are:

  • Basil Poledouris (Hunt for Red October, Les Miserables, Quigley Down Under)
  • James Horner (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Legends of the Fall, Glory, and… dare I say it? …Titanic)
  • Hans Zimmer (Gladiator, Da Vinci Code, Batman Begins)
  • Jerry Goldsmith (Rudy, The Shadow)
  • Howard Shore (Lord of the Rings)
  • Klaus Badelt (Pirates of the Carribean, Time Machine)
  • Patrick Doyle (Henry V, Harry Potter 4)
  • Trevor Pinnock (Last of the Mohicans)
  • James Newton Howard (Lady in the Water, Signs, The Village, Atlantis)
  • Steve Jablonsky (Transformers)
  • Danny Elfman (Spiderman, Corpse Bride)

Any good ones I’ve missed?