No small part of the success of The Godfather was director Francis Ford Coppola's coup in getting Italian composer Nino Rota, best known for his scores to Federico Fellini's films, to write its music. Rota borrowed and transformed a theme from an earlier work of his as the score's main motive, presenting a lovely, lonely, minor-key melody that evoked the Italian heritage on which Coppola built the film's sense of grand tragedy. The melody was highly serviceable, working both as a single trumpet tune and as the basis for dances and other musical moments throughout the film. Coppola also brought in his father, Carmine Coppola, to handle some of the music on both The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II, with the elder Coppola taking over more extensively on The Godfather, Part III, which was produced after Rota's death. Soundtrack albums for all three films reached the charts, and now Silva America Records has put together an album of music from the three films, newly recorded by the City of Prague Philharmonic conducted by Paul Bateman. The cardboard cover on the CD jewel box contains the phrase "30th Anniversary," which indicates that somebody can't count, because The Godfather was released in 1972, but no matter. The music remains compelling, with the prelude to Pietro Mascagni's opera Cavalleria Rusticana, used as the dramatic conclusion to Part III, fitting in well and suggesting one of the influences on Rota's style.
The Godfather Triology: I, II & III Review
by William Ruhlmann