A Single Man
Set in Los Angeles in 1962, A Single Man is the story of George Falconer, a British college professor (Colin Firth) who is struggling to find meaning in his life after the death of his long-time partner, Jim (Matthew Goode). We follow George through a single day, where a series of encounters, ultimately leads him to decide if there is a meaning to life after Jim. George is consoled by his closest friend, Charley (Julianne Moore), a 48-year-old beauty, and is stalked by one of his students, Kenny (Nicholas Hoult).
Abel Korzeniowski about the score
A Single Man, A Single Theme
The score for “A Single Man” revolves around a single melodic theme. It slowly grows with the story, and eventually, in the last sequence of the movie, we are presented with its complete, final form. I named the theme “Stillness of the Mind”, after George’s moment of the final transformation. From the cocoon of despair and self-destruction, emerges a butterfly, living and understanding his life to the fullest, if only surviving for one day.
Strings and Scotch
I wanted something simple and pure, relying on melody rather than excessive orchestration, so I did it the old-fashioned way — with solo violin and strings. Their warmth and intimacy always moves me. Later on, I added a couple more colors to support the dramatic narration. There is a scene with George emptying a 20 year old bottle of North Port Scotch. For some reason this image stuck in my head and I ended up using a bottle of Scotch as a percussion instrument in the score.
Sir Alfred Hitchcock once said that “a good film should start with an earthquake and be followed by rising tension”. Tom wanted exactly that, only with a thrill of passion and beauty instead of fear. So the movie starts with this incredible underwater image of a naked man, who, we can’t be sure, is either drowning or dancing or locked up in a dream. For this scene, Tom asked for music to be of exceptional beauty and strength, something that would overload our senses with the complexity of its emotion reach. The piece I wrote has a lush, extremely romantic melodic line, stylistically suspended between the past and the present. After that, we only proceed to get deeper and deeper into the mind of Professor Falconer.
Critics about the score
[The] score from composer Abel Korzeniowski is a highly worthy piece of art in its own right.
Korzeniowski’s new score for Tom Ford’s A Single Man is destined to become a film music classic. The Polish composer combines pulsing post-minimalism and elegant neo- romanticism with bright melodies, lush orchestration and warm colours (notably harp, piano and solo violin) to create a dazzling and dramatic score of extraordinary power and beauty.
But by far, the BEST score of the year is Abel Korzeniowski’s for A Single Man. It is a brilliant score that reminds you of classic cinema yet has that modern twist to it at the same time. The score is a part of the story and it speaks the mind of Firth’s character in the film. It is one of the most beautiful scores in film history and truthfully deserves to win. I believe it is a lock for a nomination and it even has a Golden Globe nod to support it too. If you haven’t listened to this score yet then you must really soon!
This is the type of score that can make you fall in love with film music.
The score was a character of its own. A mix between opera and classical, Abel Korzeniowski made a score that climaxes right when the movie does and seems to have a running commentary throughout the film.
A breathtaking piece of music, one that sticks in your head throughout the film, and stays in it long after. It feels like a piece of yearning, as if it’s the emotions in George’s head playing out in music rather than bodily expression.
Abel Korzeniowski’s unbelievable gorgeous, string-laden score, so beautifully complimenting Ford’s images and emotions it seems to flow off of the screen and slide across you like a sheet of velvet.
The biggest highlight of the film is the score by Abel Korzeniowski. The way the music swells and interweaves in and out of the scenes were so good.
Abel Korzeniowski designed a magnificent orchestral accompaniment to this emotionally gripping film. The final minutes of the movie nearly brought me to tears. In fact, I actually had a physical knot in my stomach for a while outside the theater. And I owe a lot of that to the music.
Abel Korzeniowski’s hypnotic score soars around us like a turbulant sea in a dream occasionally drowned out by a pounding heart.
The film’s brilliant use of sound and magical string score (by the Oscar-worthy Abel Korzeniowski) help propel the film’s stirring images.
Music = stunning.
(…) I also absolutely loved the score by Abel Korzeniowski – flawless and haunting.
Stunning!!! Amazing!! *****
This score brings back the golden age of music for cinema (…)
I haven’t found a film score in the last 10 years that echos the feelings that this does!
The music, woven seamlessly throughout the film by Polish composer Abel Korzeniowski, was a character all its own. The classical sounds were classy, yet not stuffy.
it [the movie] has two secret weapons: original music by Abel Korzeniowski, and British actor Colin Firth.
Abel Korzeniowski’s score celebrates strings to a dreamily nostalgic degree as the film tracks a day in George Falconer’s (Colin Firth) life eight months after the sudden death of his partner Jim (Matthew Goode). It’s classical, but tie-loosened and unstuffy, filled full with moments of sweeping sorrow and triumph.
Ford’s appeal to the senses includes a stunning soundtrack by Polish composer Abel Korzeniowski, and the way the visuals and the music work together to prime you for the emotional core of the film reminds me of Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Love. (…)
In fact, the film is a paean to lost love, with Korzeniowski’s music tugging at the heartstrings.
… a suspenseful, dramatic power worthy of Bernard Herrmann for this achingly gorgeous score by Polish composer Abel Korzeniowski.
… emotionally raw, string-heavy sound with a score whose infinite beauty seems tailor-made for the impeccable sensibility of MAN’s fashionista writer-director Tom Ford. For even if his hero has a love that dare not speak its name, Korzeniowski’s strikingly poetic work isn’t afraid to shout that passion to the heavens.
Gorgeous music score, the year’s best.
There is such a polished sound and flow to it that I think you will find yourself fully absorbed with the music. You’ll also find that it’s the type of score that is difficult to stop listening to; I was intent on listening to it uninterrupted from start to finish both times I cued up the disc. Truly engaging and quite refreshing fare!
As award season nears, Abel Korzeniowski should be in serious contention for a Best Score bid for A Single Man. This score functions at too high a level to ignore and I think the voters should pick up on that.
Final Score 9.5 out of 10: A Single Man is an accomplished piece of work that should appeal to even the most casual of soundtrack listeners. It’s a captivating score that has a beauty about it that is difficult to dismiss once you start listening to it. Don’t be surprised by the nominations that it may earn.
Accompanying these moments of slowed-down contemplation is the magnificent score by composer Abel Korzeniowski, which makes even the most seemingly mundane sequence of shots essential and heightens the dramatic meaning of every moment. It is certainly one of the best scores of the year, and without a doubt the most unique and original composition.
Every now and then I hear a score so beautiful or memorable that I can’t contain myself. The score I’m talking about this time is to Tom Ford’s lyrical feature film debut, “A Single Man,” which I caught last night at MoMA. Resonant strings by Polish composer Abel Korzeniowski added layers of depth to this intensely graceful character study–an adaptation of a Christopher Isherwood novel.
Abel Korzeniowski’s score brilliantly adds to the film with a simplicity and heaviness that matches with a Philip Glass-like minimalism, keeping the film in constant motion and still interesting even for the music geeks.
Mention must be made of the sensuous, evocative music of Abel Korzeniowski that keeps the audience afloat but drowning in emotion…
The music was magnificent and powerful, you feel every heartbeat, every crackle in the fire place and even in the silence you are tuned in with suspense.
The beauty Ford finds is endless, and it’s perfectly coupled with a flawless score by Abel Korzeniowski.
Whoever wins the rights to “A Single Man” picks up Oscar noms for at least Best Actor, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Score, Set Design, Costumes, and Make Up. Best Director is not outside the realm of possibilities.
With “A Single Man,” TWC (The Weinstein Co.) also gets a very strong musical score, a fantastic adapted screenplay. and several tech nominations.
Polish composer Abel Korzeniowski’s score must also be given high plaudits. It’s gorgeous, heartrending and hopefully already has easily given him a surefire Oscar nomination for Best Score.
Abel Korzeniowski’s (score) is the best of the year so far.
Nobody in their right mind, meanwhile, should have a problem with Abel Korzeniowski’s exquisite score.
Everything about this film — the look, colors, pacing, shots, composition, cinematography, costumes, soundtrack — says that an extraordinary amount of love and care went into it. (…) Abel Korzeniowski’s score is haunting and moving.
34 Responses to A Single Man