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The Wild West: The Essential Western Film Music Collection

Tracksounds Rating = 8/10

The Wild West: The Essential Western Film Music Collection

Conducted by Paul Bateman, Nic Raine, Derek Wadsworth
Performed by The City of Prague Philharmonic
Released by Silva Records October 1999

Track Title Time Rating Magnificent West
by Christopher Coleman

There’s no music quite like that composed for the film genre of the Western.  Silva Treasury has brought together some of the best on their compilation release entitled The Wild West.  This two disc western montage includes just about every western theme one can think of.   This compilation samples wonderful western scores from the sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties both for television and film.  As enjoyable as composer compilations can be, many times the tracks don’t flow very well since one track has little to do with those before or after it.  This is not the case with The Wild West. While the various composers take their own approaches to telling the story of the Great American West, they have this era as a common bond and this commonality helps the listener move from track to track without one hitch in his getalong.

The first disc contains a wide range of music, while the second tends to focus on the more aggressive western themes.    It begins with Tiomkin's strong classical work for The Alamo.  This is one of the least “western” sounding of the disc, but is a beautiful work nonetheless.  Jerome Moross’ bright score to The Big Country blasts through in track 2.  The brightness and grandeur of this track is only matched by Williams’ The Cowboys (track 4) and Alfred Newman’s How the West Was Won (track 13).  The suite from Elmer Bernstein’s The Magnificent Seven is another grand piece.  It does come  somewhat short of other performances of this memorable music found on a few Telarc western compilations, or the Elmer Bernstein on Elmer Bernstein CD compilation.  In any case, composers Bateman,  Raine, and company make up for it on disc 2 with their performance of Bernstein’s The Sons of Katie Elder and True Grit.

The inclusion of Dances with Wolves, Gettysburg, and Glory are a little curious since one rarely thinks of these movies or scores when the word, “Western” is mentioned.  They are from the same era and do serve to bring a bit a variety to the listening experience.  The City of Prague Philharmonic performs both Dances with Wolves and Gettysburg flawlessly.  John Barry’s Oscar winning composition is performed almost identically to the original score.  Gettysburg gets the full orchestra treatment, which I love for Edelman’s powerful score, but it falls just a notch short of Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops’ version contained on Beautiful Hollywood.  The selection from James Horner’s Glory (track 10) was originally found on Silva’s James Horner compilation.  While it is an interesting performance and intriguing in its own right, it almost sounds like a completely different composition from the original.  The use of a choir of men and women, as opposed to the Harlem Boys Choir, has a profound effect on the music.  This performance sounds even more like Carl Orff!  As usual, I favor Horner’s original over this rendition.  Yet another curious entry is The Last of the Mohicans.  Again, this is from the same era, but not yer typical western diddy.  The performance of this beloved theme adequate but seems to drag just a bit.  The same could be said of the performance of the Lonesome Dove theme found on track 15.

Dee Barton’s High Plains Drifter (track 12) is an intriguing piece.  The chimes in the first couple of minutes are enough to drive one mad, but the music behind all the ringing ranges from contemplative to focused and determined.  Thankfully, the chimes cease and the track really picks up speed with both brass and strings becoming more and more forceful.   Disc 1 wraps up on a solemn note with the master of the Spaghetti-Western, Ennio Morricone’s, Once Upon a Time in the West. This CD alone would qualify as a pretty nifty compilation, but Silva goes on to give us a ton more to listen to!

The second volume of this western extravaganza gives the listener some great musical moments to experience.  Disc 2 seems to focus more on the upbeat positive and heroic themes that have been written for western cinema.  This CD begins as the first- bright and bold with Maurice Jarre’s overture to The Professionals.  The confidence and heroism that marked many western films is also represented by a deluge of other tracks including: Richard Hageman’s main theme from She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Bruce Broughton’s Silverado.  Equally representing the passion, drama and beauty of the western story is Moross’ The Proud Rebel (track 3), John Williams’ The Rare Breed (track 4) and James Newton Howard’s Wyatt Earp (track 18).

A bit of a respite comes when track 12 begins.  Morricone’s main theme from Two Mules for Sister Sara is a beautiful piece for guitar.  It starts simply and slowly the brass and strings make a slow but strong appearance, before the tempo picks up with the steel guitar, flute, and orchestral accents.  Unforgiven by Mr. Western, himself, Clint Eastwood, continues to give the listener a chance to reflect on the softer side of western.

To conclude the compilation, Silva returns us to the rough ridin’ heroism of the West.  The Wagon Train by Moross, The Wild Bunch by Jerry Fielding, Wild Rovers by Goldsmith, and Richard Markowitz’s theme for the TV series The Wild Wild West bring this CD to proper conclusion.

Westerns have always captured the full spectrum of human emotions and the same should be said of their accompanying scores.  Silva has brought many of the best of these themes to score fans through The Wild West and, while a few selections might raise a curious eyebrow, the overall flow of this compilation is top notch.  The conducting of Paul Bateman, Nic Raine and Derek Wadsworth of the City of Prague Philharmonic continues to be above average and recording crisp, which makes for a listening experience not to be missed.

Disc One

1 The Alamo - Overture (Tiomkin) 3:26 ***
2 The Big Country - Main Title Theme (Moross) 3:04 ****
3 Buffalo Girls 0 Main theme (Holdridge) 3:00 ***
4 The Cowboys - Main Theme (Williams) 3:30 ****
5 Dances with Wolves - The John Dunbar Theme (Barry) 2:31 ****
6 A Distant Trumpet - Main Title (Steiner) 1:29 ****
7 El Condor - Main Title Theme (Jarre) 3:21 ****
8 A Fistful of Dollars - Main Theme (Morricone) 3:36 ***
9 Gettysburg - Main Theme (Edelman) 4:47 ***
10 Glory - Charging Fort Wagner (Horner) 3:04 ***
11 Heaven's Gate - Sweet Breeze (adaptation: Mansfield) 4:10 ****
12 High Plains Drifter - Main Theme (Barton) 4:08 ***
13 How the West Was Won - (A. Newman) 3:18 ****
14 The Last of the Mohicans - Main Theme (T. Jones) 3:16 ***
15 Lonesome Dove - Main Themes (Poledouris) 4:00 ***
16 The Magnificent Seven - Main Themes (E. Bernstein) 5:30 ***
17 Maverick - Run Over by a Stagecoach (R. Newman) 3:45 **
18 Monte Walsh - The good Times Are Comin' (Barry) 2:30 ***
19 Once Upon a Time in the West - Main Theme (Morricone) 6:02 ***
Disc Time 71:48  

Disc Two

1 The Professionals - Overture (Jarre) 5:24 ***
2 The Outlaw Josey Wales - The War is Over - (J. Fielder) 4:24 **
3 The Proud Rebel - Pastorale (Moross) 3:40 ***
4 The Rare Breed - The Cross Breed/ End Title (Williams) 3:30 ****
5 Red Sun - Main Title (Jarre) 3:39 ***
6 The Searchers - Opening Theme (Steiner) 3:00 ****
7 She Wore a Yellow Ribbon - Main theme (Hageman) 2:51 ***
8 Silverado - Main Themes (Broughton) 4:06 ***
9 The Sons of Katie Elder -  Main Theme (E. Bernstein) 2:12 ****
10 Stagecoach - Opening and Closing Titles (Hageman, Harling, Leopold, Shuken, Gruenberg) 3:00 ***
11 True Grit - Rooster Coburn (E. Bernstein) 3:00 ***
12 Two Mules for Sister Sara - Main Theme (Morricone) 5:18 ****
13 Unforgiven - Claudia's Theme (Eastwood) 6:15 ****
14 Villa Rides - Main Theme (Moross) 3:28 **
15 Wagon Train - Main Theme (Jarre) 2:46 ***
16 The Wild Bunch - Train Montage (J. Fielding) 4:00 ***
17 Wild Rovers - Bronco Bustin' (Goldsmith) 2:14 ****
18 Wyatt Earp - Prelude (J. N. Howard) 4:49 ***
19 The Wild Wild West - Theme from the TV series (R. Markowitz) 4:49 ***
Disc Time 73:26  
  Total Playing Time 145:18    




Music Selection


CD Length


Track Order




Final Score


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The Wild West: The Essential Western Film Music Collection

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The Wild West: The Essential Western Film Music Collection


All artwork from The Wild West is exclusive property of Silva Treasury (c) 1999.  Its appearance is for imformational purposes only.


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