Film Music Review
The Sammy awards






2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)

Music composed by Alex North

13 Tracks (Playing Time = 39:02)


Conducted and orchestrated by Henry Brany. Album produced by Nick Redman. Music restored, edited, and mastered by Daniel Hersch at DigiPrep, Los Angeles, CA. Recording engineered by Ken Cameron. Music recorded at Anvil Studios, Denham, England, during January 1968. Booklet essay by Jon Burlingame. Album art direction by Joe Sikoryak at designWELL, Berkeley, CA.

Intrada Special Collection 38

Limited edition of 3000 copies.

Rating: ****


In order to appreciate the effort made in this latest Intrada release, I re-listened to Jerry Goldsmith’s 1993 re-recording of North’s score for this Kubrick film. There in regular stereo was this rejected score in its first appearance since the recording stage. Now, with the discovery of a private tape of the recordings from the North estate, we get a chance to hear this score from its original recording sessions.

The first thing to notice is that Intrada has a properly sequenced set of tracks. This means that the familiar fanfare music appears first in “Bones.” The ending is taken at a quicker clip than many performances on disc of this piece. Here one can discern North’s attempt to rewrite the Strauss “Introduction” from “Also Sprach Zarathustra” but the musical approach really feels much more contemporary. Therein lies the key to North’s approach and concept of the score for 2001. North’s contributions all take classical music from the temp track as an inspiration for something that is at times more visceral, more advanced harmonically, and in the music for the first half of the film, is constantly evolving toward a main thematic statement. The “Space Station Docking” music is magical music making in its own right. Intrada also includes a brief alternate take as well.

What is striking about hearing North’s original score, conducted here by Henry Brant, is that he managed to create such an amazing piece of music for each sequence he was given. Intrada’s notes allow you to actually cue up the DVD and watch these sequences with North’s music synched to picture. That is a fascinating exercise as well. All of this production is made even more worthwhile by a superb booklet filled with details about the evolution of the score and its recording. Tracks are discussed individually as well. The booklet alone would make this worth adding to your collection as Jon Burlingame provides information related to the Goldsmith recording as well in his comments.

When I finally heard this score in the Goldsmith release, and again here, I was struck by how North seemed to take some of the style from SPARTACUS and update through some contemporary harmonics and string writing. The “love theme” parallel shows up in the space station music. But there is no music to see how this would play out in the second half of the film. It is perhaps then hard to admit that maybe Kubrick was correct to populate his film with classical pieces. North’s music seems more in keeping though with Arthur C. Clarke’s vision in the novel which peeks through more when you view the film with North’s contribution. It is a gift to have this music available from the original sessions though there is some echo deterioration evident in spots (this does not detract from the music or one’s enjoyment). It also helps you appreciate how close Goldsmith got to trying to capture that same sense of excitement that comes when new music is played and recorded for the first time.

The release contains an alternate version of “The Foraging” (or “The Dawn of Man”) followed by three additional bonus tracks.


--Steven A. Kennedy , 8 February 2007

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