Anyone here is the fan of The Leftovers? I discovered it a few weeks ago and watched the whole series in a few weeks. Personally the first season was very interested for me, second and third season were gradually less and less interested but I was keen to finish it, I found something in the series that kept me going. One of them was the soundtracks, of course.
I wasn’t expected in a apocalyptic TV show, I found such a clever usage of music, but I was wrong.
It all started at the first episode when I heard the Schubert’s Piano Sonata In A, D.959: II Andantino. This was used at hero day, where Guilty Remnants and the town started to fight.
In the episode 7, when Kevin started to walk in the crowd GR we hear Miserere Mei – a coral masterpiece. It also comes back when Kevin started to fight with his father. The piece’s pique moment is when the soprano reached a high note; and in the show the piece is cut beautifully to reach us that point and leave us there with no conclusion.
In the 9th episode, Laurie is the most important character. We see her in her normal self, and it is tempting for us what she’s been through. In this episode, we hear essential works of classical music and yes, there is a reason to it. We see Laurie in her luxurious house, we understand their lifestyle is upperclass. We see her at her job, as a psychologist, we admire and respect her. She’s living problems with her marriage, she has to decide if she wants another baby – problems of a sophisticated life. What features that better than classical music? It is considered to be the art form of the elite people. Laurie deserves this pieces to represent her former life.
String Quartet No.14 in C-flat Minor, op.131 by Beethoven is used when we are back in the old good days where Kevin and Laurie is married. Kevin is running, goes back to house, we admire the luxury expensive home and seeing Laurie acting all normal.
After that we see Laurie in her office and we hear Schubert’s String Quartet No. 13 in A Minor, D. 804 "Rosamunde": II. Andante. Later, we see Laurie on her car, encountering with our first victim – a mom. Haydn’s String Quartet No. 53 in D Major, Hob. III:63, Op. 64:5, "The Lark": II. Adagio cantabile is playing and we understand that the Sudden Departure is about to happen. When Laurie sees her baby, we hear Max Richter’s November – a track from Memoryhouse.
In season 2, we start the series with a whole new story. We saw a cave woman loses whole her friends due to an earthquake and gives a birth. We are in the ancient history and Overture of La Traviata accompanies the scene. We saw a strong woman who has a baby by herself and trying to survive in the nature all by herself. We even see her killing a snake. Is it a reference to La Traviata’s gorgeous courtesan Violetta’s powerful act of sacrificing? Or is it hinted that from that, women will have a very different lives in the future? In the beginning, we are very distant to the character, since it is very hard to connect the scene to the series’ plot – I even had to go to the later moments and make sure I am watching the right series. However, when you use an opera overture which is a summary of the opera with its most striking tunes, you got our attention.
In the fourth episode, we hear Miserere Mei once more. This time the tune is used when people are trying to get –holy- water from the empty lake. Nora joins the search party for the 3 missing girls. What is the connection here? Miserere Mei is a sacred piece. Although Nora – and the audience- didn’t believe the holiness of the lake, people are really believing it. Is this piece supposed to remind us their belief? Or the producers try to convince us that is is really a Holy water? I am going with the first one. What do you think?
In the eighth episode, we are at the beyond world. The theme of this episode is Nabucco: Act III - Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves "Va pensiero, sull'ali dorate". We first hear it when Kevin kills a guy. Then throughout the episode, this piece is played repeatedly. However, every time piece is cut. In the end, at the well, we hear the whole music and just at the end; Kevin throws Patti into the well unexpectedly.
This piece is sung by the Hebrew Slaves at the opera Nabucco by Verdi. They sing their longings for their land. It is associated with nation’s freedom. When it played for the first time in Italy, Italian audience associated themselves with this piece and applaud so hard that the piece is repeated even though it was forbidden. Traditionally, today it is still performed twice. So when Kevin goes beyond to gain his freedom, we hear the beginning of the piece and it implies Kevin’s attempts. When he was planning to throw her, we hear the whole piece.
In episode 2, Nora is listening the bunch of people’s testimonials. They are from different nations but they are saying the more or less same thing. But she continues to listen each of them. And we hear Miserere Mei again. This piece is so powerful, and it is used in the moments that are nor crucial for the story. Is this little strange for you? Actually, it is very common to use the most striking soundtracks at the ordinary scenes to balance the affect. It would be too much if this music also used in a very intense scene. – Check Godfathers and look where they used the first theme music J -
In each season, we have one Miserere Mei featured episode. There has to be a connection, but I couldn’t find it yet. Maybe the reason is their love for this masterpiece. Why you don’t have this choice if it is an art music? J
In the same episode, when we see a woman who is in search of a ‘’Kevin’’ but got the wrong one; we hear the harp arrangement of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor Act 1 Scene 2 aria; ‘Regnava nel silenzio’. It is the aria that Lucia remembers a ghost warning her about Edgardo. The aria signaling the madness of Lucia. In the series, our woman desperately tries to find our Kevin. Is she must be mad to believe that Kevin is Holy?
"Zum Sanctus" from Deutsche Messe, D 872 - Franz Schubert featured in episode 3 when Kevin Sr. reads the book of Kevin. I think, it is an irony that each time there is a reference to the ‘’Holy’’ book of Kevin, we hear a sacred piece.
At the same episode when Kevin Sr. tells his story to Christopher Sunday, he says that he want to an opera house, where there is Verdi playing. And immediately after we hear ‘Verdi’, La Traviata’s Act 3 Prelude starts to be played. When I first heard it, I thought it is only a show of respect for Verdi, as his name recalls La Traviata immediately. However, it will come up again in another scene, which means it has a different meaning.
When Kevin Sr. wakes up at the woman’s house, he goes through the photo album, there is a harp solo from the Lucia di Lammermoor. This means this opera and the harp is a leitmotif for this woman, Grace.
In the episode 4, when Nora reads the book sarcastically we hear from Verdi’s opera Rigoletto. Aria from Gilda: Gualtier Maldé!... Caro Nome. This aria is sang with joy with Gilda who’s in love with the Duke whose name is Gualtier Malde, she thinks. She actually sings the aria to the name itself, since it is very important for her to know the name because her father didn’t want her to know anything, even his name to keep her innocent.
Later, when Kevin examines the book, we again hear Schubert’s Mass as it is a leitmotif for the book of Kevin.
In the same episode, La traviata, Act 2: "Dite alla giovine...Non amarlo ditegli" – aria of Violetta and Alfredo’s father. It appears when Nora is rejected by the scientists, goes back to the hotel, have a discussion with Kevin and left by Kevin.
When Kevin Sr. tells Laurie how Christopher Sunday died and he met Grace La Traviata Act 3 Prelude started again. Laurie understands that they want to kill Kevin to learn the piece. This means this tune is associated with Christopher Sunday’s rain song.
In the episode 7, when Kevin goes to the other side, we again hear ‘’Va Pensiero, sull’ali Dorate’’ from Nabucco. We thought this piece is associated with Kevin’s freedom. Kevin is now free of Patti, but he will never be free anymore since now there are people who knows his powers and probably keep asking him to die again and again. So this piece becomes the leitmotif for Kevin going to the other side. We also hear Nabucco’s Overture and Introduzione, so Nabucco as a whole opera has a significance in this opera.
The Leftovers soundtracks composed by Max Richter, a classically trained composer. It is his first composition for TV and it is definitely brilliant. If you want to find more about that there is an interview you can read here, and for the other pop soundtracks here is the link.