Creating a dramatic, operatic score for the Harry Potter finale

While the Harry Potter series of books is an international phenomenon because of J.K. Rowling’s writing and imagination, the movies have had to add great acting, filming, and of course, a compelling film score.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Recently MPR Classical’s Julie Amacher spoke with composer Alexandre Desplat, who created the score for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, parts 1 and 2. He said the first thing he did with part 2 was find a central musical theme to tie the score together.

The thread that we decided to have was Harry Potter’s mother, Lily, who’s connected to another character in the film. I wanted to find a theme that had a lullaby quality to it, something very gentle and tender. A bit ancient, maybe Celtic, but with no Celtic reference in terms of instrumentation. It is of the first hearing, a haunting melody sung by a female voice with no lyrics.

This pure crystal clear voice, that to us was the echo, the mist of Lily’s presence which has been near Harry all around the years, and maybe also near another character that we discover near the end of the film. Lily is not only the reason he is fighting, he wants to know why his parents died. He also knows he’s been protected by his mother’s benevolence.

Later in the film you will hear it played by full orchestra in a very epic moment when a dragon is flying with the three heroes on his back. It has both qualities of being very gentle and being very wide and large.

You can hear more about Desplat’s score, and listen to some of the music, by clicking on the audio link below, or you can read the text version here.

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