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The Apollo/ Saturn V Center by David Kneupper

The Best Score You've Never Heard!
Review by Christopher Coleman


The Apollo/ Saturn V Center by David Kneupper

Apollo/ Saturn V Center




Originality 9
Music Selection 10
Composition 10
CD Length 7
Track Order 10
Performance 10
Final Score 9/10



 Purchasing Options


Call to order this CD:
Item #4843

The Space Shop USA orders call 1-800-621-9826

International orders call 321-449-4450




David Kneupper

Official Site


Composed and Conducted by David Kneupper
Scoring Engineers: Glenn Neibaur and Aaron Gant
Released by BRC Imagination Arts 1997

Touring the restricted areas of the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, and being in total awe of what I’m witnessing, the last thing I anticipated was coming across some of the best music I’ve heard in 1999.  One portion of the tour is the Apollo/Saturn V Center which opened in December of 1996.  It is a divided into three powerful segments.  The first is purely a film documentary.  The second is an incredible mixture of film and live reenactment of the Apollo 8 launch.  Last, is the actual exhibit where, among other incredible sites, one of the three remaining Saturn V rockets lies horizontally suspended about 10 feet from the ground.  Through each section of this exhibit is David Kneupper’s astounding score. 

What makes this a unique score is that it not only serves as score for the film elements of the exhibit, but also as mood music as you stand flabbergasted in front of the Saturn V, lunar landers, and other incredible vehicles.  Thankfully, within the exhibit is a gift shop that, as a direct answer to prayer, sold copies of the score!

The CD is broken up into two sections:  The Firing Room and The Lunar Theatre, which coincide with two sections of the exhibit.

The Firing Room

This section of the tour is a "live" experience from the control room during the launch of Apollo 8.  The CD begins with The Early Years which is strongly reminiscent of James Horner’s Apollo 13 main trumpet theme.  The overall mood of the score is not unlike Apollo 13 in many ways, but incorporates music styles of some other familiar film composers as well.  David Kneupper uses strong percussion and brass like some of the best film music magicians out there.  Track 1 switches from its heroic beginning to a much more foreboding mood as the challenges and tragedies of the US space program are documented; however, a return to the solo trumpet finishes out the track.

Track 2,Kenned Charts the Course , brings back the glorious main fanfare but quickly dives into a much more militaristic motif- one full of persistence and determination.  Here, the main theme weaves in and out played by the brass section and woodwinds.  Finally, it reaches a crescendo as the strings percussion hold a steady rhythm.  This track is equally as pleasing as its predecessor.  

The mood changes substantially as track 3. Apollo 1,  begins with a very beautiful theme played by the flutes and strings.  It has the playful innocence of Horner’s Searching for Bobby Fisher, but unfortunately, is extremely short – under one minute. Track 4, Rebuilding, is a serious bit of music.  It chronicles the rebounding of the Apollo program after the Apollo 1 tragedy.  It begins quite forcefully, but ends, again, with the solo trumpet theme.

The heart of the CD is reached in tracks 5 and 6.  Launch Day – December 1968, track 5, has an eerie quality to it.  While it begins with the majestic style of the previous tracks, it quickly retreats to a darker mood of anticipation.  Kneupper introduces the reverberating bell that begins to hold a tight-rope of consistency through the entire track.  This track builds and builds, very much like The Launch from Apollo 13, but it is no rip-off.  Kneupper creates his own sense of expectancy, urgency, hope, and triumph, through percussion, strings, and brass.  Again, like Horner’s The Launch, it is one of the longer tracks of the CD.  Liftoff, track 6, continues the motif of track 5, and one wouldn’t even realize that is was a different track if the track listing didn’t say so.  

The Lunar Theatre

Yet another portion of the exhibit is the Lunar Theatre.  This is a 400 person theatre that depicts the Apollo 11 mission and the first-ever landing of Man on the Moon.  Here, one is in for a real dynamic experience and Kneupper’s score plays a vital role in this as well.   As the first lunar landing is chronicled before one’s eye’s Kneupper’s music saturates the ears.  Track 7, Preparing to Land, starts off mildly with timpanis and woodwinds.  Also, the bell introduced earlier continues to ring its consistent tone of unwavering determination.  This track moves into high gear with drums, congas, and other various percussion instruments and takes on a bit of a Hans Zimmer feel.  

Shortly into track 8, a choir very much in the line of Hans Zimmer’s Crimson Tide or even Goldsmith’s 13th Warrior makes a brief appearance and reappears with a bit more force later in the track. Even with these notable styles present, Kneupper doesn’t lose the Horner-like style that permeates the entire score.    This is one of the best tracks of the CD.  Since it incorporates elements from three of the best film composers out there, how could it not be?

One Small Step for Man, is a triumphant blast of brass that is as heroic as music gets.  Once again, it is a very short track that leaves one begging for more.  It concludes with the piano playing the main theme and strings accompanying it.  Simply gorgeous!  It flows seamlessly into the final track of the CD, The Future of Space.  Track 10, sums up the entire experience.  It is playfully optimistic.  It is profoundly simple, yet magical.  It replays the main themes in a wondrous arrangement that casts one’s imagination out of this world and into the possibilities that lie in the new frontier.

It is hard to imagine any composer doing a better job than David Kneupper for this experience.  If this were a score to feature film  instead of an obscure CD released in 1997, I’d have no trouble watching David Kneupper receive an Oscar for his work.  Comparing this score to the likes of Horner, Zimmer, and Goldsmith only offers the highest praise to Kneupper and emphasizes the highest recommendation.


Track Listing and Ratings

 Track  Title  Time


1 The Early Days 2:31  *****
2 Kennedy Charts the Course 2:25  ****
3 Apollo 1 Sound Clip 0:48  ****
4 Rebuilding 1:32  ****
5 Launch Day - December 1968 6:57  *****
6 Liftoff 2:05  ****
7 Preparing to Land 1:39  *****
8 Eagle Lands on the Moon Sound Clip 4:10  ****
9 One Small Step for Man 1:57  *****
10 The Future of Space 4:17  ****

Total Running Time

28:21  *****

Referenced Reviews
Apollo 13 



All artwork from The Music of the Apollo/Saturn V Center  is exclusive property of BRC Imagination Arts (c) 1997.  
Its appearance is for informational purposes only.
Review format version 5