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Philip Glass

Production Credits
Original music by Philip Glass
Composed for the film Dracula, 1931
Produced by Judith Sherman
Recorded August 1998

26 Tracks, Total Time 1:06:49

Performed by Kronos Quartet:

David Harrington, violin
John Sherba, violin
Hank Dutt, viola
Joan Jeanrenaud, cello

Two trailblazing new music artists--Kronos Quartet and composer Philip Glass--come together for a recording of the first original score for the Universal Pictures 1931 horror film classic Dracula, starring Béla Lugosi. Glass's score marks the first-ever for a film which the composer himself considers a classic. "Many films have been made based on Dracula since the original in 1931--however, none is equal to the original in eloquence or the sheer power to move us."

British cover There have in fact been many screen versions of Bram Stoker's classic tale of Dracula, but none more famous or enduring than the 1931 original. Starring Béla Lugosi as the world's best known vampire and directed by horror specialist Tod Browning, Universal Studios' Dracula creates an eerie, chilling mood that has rarely been realized since. Dracula's initial theatrical release coincided with the transition from silent pictures to "talkies." At that time limited technology existed to present the film as a sound picture, so no musical score was ever composed and there were few sound effects. Browning relied on Lugosi's legendary Hungarian accent to give the film its distinctive sound.

Glass's new original score for Dracula was commissioned by Universal Family and Home Entertainment Production for inclusion as part of Universal's Classic Monsters collection, to be released on video on August 31. Philip Glass, in commenting on writing this score, said, "The film is considered a classic. I felt the score needed to evoke the feeling of the world of the 19th century--for that reason I decided a string quartet would be the most evocative and effective. I wanted to stay away from the obvious effects associated with horror films. With Kronos we were able to add depth to the emotional layers of the film."

CD Back Glass is a sought-after composer for film. His work has appeared in several movies, including the Stephen Hawking documentary A Brief History of Time and Martin Scorsese's Kundun. But in the past, the movies Glass has written for have been almost exclusively contemporary. Dracula is different because it places Glass's modern minimalist modulations against the high romanticism of an early black-and-white classic. After all, the tiny amount of music that managed to work its way into the original score--Swan Lake in the opening credits, and the overture to Die Meistersinger--couldn't be more sweeping in orchestration.

In this case, however, the restricted string timbre seems to perfectly complement the black and white images, and it's tempting to compare this decision with Bernard Herrmann's string orchestra on Psycho. Much of the music for Dracula consists of repeated figures such as arpeggios which sometimes serve as accompaniment to a simple melodic line, though the music breaks into counterpoint for the "Death of Dracula" near the end of the movie. It is interesting to compare Glass's approach with that of James Bernard who, after a long association with the Hammer Dracula films, composed a new score for the original Nosferatu from 1922.

--Nonesuch Records Press Release, 1999

A selection of Dracula related music.

Find Dracula on

A selection of Dracula in books.

A History of Horror

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