We went searching for clues in old newspaper profiles, biographies and his immortal short stories. We built a list of classical and classic music that the great science fiction novelist loved.
Now you can listen to our free Ray Bradbury playlist on Spotify. If you have more songs to add, just mention them in the comments section…
A Los Angeles Times interview from 1987 noted that the author had narrated symphony performances of Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” and Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals.”
In Jonathan R. Eller’s excellent biography, Becoming Ray Bradbury, we get a glimpse of the young writer watching films just to hear the classical soundtracks:
“the action of ‘The Battle for Siberia’ barely interested Bradbury—he was there to hear the Dmitri Shostakovich soundtrack. He already had recordings of the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, and the day after attending the two Russian ﬁlms he listened to the first network broadcast of Shostakovich’s Seventh, the newly composed ‘Siege of Leningrad’ symphony. As the years passed, his early encounters with the works of Prokoﬁev, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, and their European precursors would continue to inspire his own basically neoromantic approach to creativity.”
Even though he loved these neoromantic composers, Bradbury did imagine a world where too much music might be at our fingertips.
“The Murderer” short story imagines a world where wearable computers, hidden speakers and miniature radios bombard citizens with an endless stream of distraction.
“Music moved with him in the white halls. He passed an office door: “The Merry Widow Waltz.” Another door: “Afternoon of a Faun.” A third: “Kiss Me Again.” He turned into a cross corridor: “The Sword Dance” buried him in cymbals, drums, pots, pans, knives, forks, thunder, and tin lightning. All washed away as he hurried through an anteroom where a secretary sat nicely stunned by Beethoven’s Fifth.”
Think about that as you surf Spotify and the rest of the Internet today…
In the short story “Junior,” the hero flashes back to some great movie soundtracks of the past:
“For it was that grand moment when the Warner Brothers logo vanished from the screen and the names and titles flashed forth in a fountain of brass and strings by Steiner or Korngold. Was it a symphonic surge from Dark Victory or The Adventures of Robin Hood that trembled the old man’s lips? Was it the score from Elizabeth and Essex, Now, Voyager or The Petrified Forest?”
Finally, the short story, “A Far-Away Guitar” remembers some classic pop music:
“Sing songs, sing “Genevieve, Sweet Genevieve, the years may come the years may go,” and sing “Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland,” and sing “We Were Sailing Along on Moonlight Bay,” and sing “There’s a Long, Long Trail Awinding,” and sing all those old summer songs and old-time songs, any song that’s old and quiet and lovely; sing soft and light, with a few notes of the guitar…”