Love Story

Francis Lai

Love Story

About this work

The soundtrack album for the popular, weepy film Love Story contains only 30 minutes of music; five of those are actually by Mozart and Bach, and about half the rest consists of repetitions of the sad little theme, which itself became as big a hit as the movie.

Lai's bittersweet, autumnal title theme relies on a prominent piano part that sometimes evokes cocktail music in its overripe string harmonies, but also evokes eighteenth century music through its trills and ornamented repeats. The music then derives a more contemporary sound from an acoustic guitar version without orchestra, and after a bridge the string backing returns, now offering more countermelodies, but supporting the guitar rather than the piano.

"Snow Frolic" is one of those Hollywood pseudo-soft rock cuts with twangy tracks for guitars, organ, and rhythm section supporting a female vocalise; this gives way to an ornate harpsichord treatment of the material, still with the soft rock background, before a brief reprise of the vocalise.

The Allegro from a Mozart sonata for flute and harpsichord serves as an interlude before the upbeat "I Love You, Phil," again with a pop rhythm section backing a wordless female vocal line, now with hints of a Phil Spector-style orchestral arrangement. "Christmas Trees" is a smooth orchestral track complete with chimes and a sentimental melody accented by the occasional harp glissando. Begging for a Bing Crosby vocal, it would fit into a much older Hollywood Christmas movie, except for the organ solo at the end.

"Search for Jenny" is essentially the main theme played on a synthesizer set to mimic a harpsichord. The music develops a stronger backbeat with jagged rhythmic figurations from the strings, then gives way to a cocktail-piano cadenza and a statement of the theme by the orchestra in full cry.

"Bozo Barrett" is a more straightforward piano version of the theme, with a busy countermelody reminiscent of a Bach invention, followed by a rocky minor-mode elaboration featuring the pseudo-harpsichord, an organ bridge, and more harpsichord pop. "Skating in Central Park" is a sentimental, very French waltz mainly for strings, with a wistful piano coda based on the same melody. "The Long Walk Home" is another treatment of the main theme, with a dissonant, electronic middle section. The final movement of Bach's Harpsichord Concerto No. 3 in D leads to an extended reprise of the theme in its piano concerto form and has shades of Rachmaninov.