JNH's "A Hidden Life" score


Senior Member
Fabulous score by James Newton Howard, for Terrence Malick's movie, "A Hidden Life." Perhaps not too surprisingly to JNH's fans, his tracks hold up just fine next to concert pieces on the soundtrack from Pårt, Gorecki and others. Given the time one normally is allowed to write film music, this really impresses me. Possibility he had more than the usual amount of time, but still the artistry is amazing.

Would love to know where the score was recorded and who the cello and violin soloists are.

South Thames

Active Member
This Variety article has answers to at least some of those questions:

A Hidden Life,” James Newton Howard
Composer James Newton Howard moved in a decidedly classical direction for “A Hidden Life,” Terence Malick’s three-hour meditation on faith and morality in a story about an Austrian farmer whose decision not to fight for the German army has dire implications for himself and his family.
Howard’s haunting theme is played by Canadian violinist James Ehnes, who last year recorded the composer’s violin concerto. It is rare to hear solos by a violin virtuoso throughout a film score (notably, one of the last times was in Howard’s Oscar-nominated score for “The Village,” with Hilary Hahn playing the solos).
“Terry often spoke about the suffering inherent in love, and you feel yearning, suffering and love in that piece,” says Howard, referring to the difficult relationship between the farmer and his wife (played by August Diehl and Valerie Pachner).
“It is a spiritual sounding score,” says the eight-time Oscar nominee. “What happens with a good score is, somehow the composer manages to cast himself or herself in the role of the protagonist. And then you write from their perspective. These were big ideas, big questions, and those feelings really inspired the score.”
Howard wrote some scene-specific pieces but also submitted music sans picture for Malick and his editors to use wherever they chose. While the violin takes center stage, it also duets with piano and is backed by an approximately 40-piece string section, all recorded in London’s Abbey Road on a single day in June 2018.
Heartfelt, often downbeat, but with a handful of hopeful, optimistic moments, Howard’s score totals about 40 minutes, and is augmented throughout the film by Malick’s usual eclectic mix of classical selections (including music by Bach, Handel, Dvorak, Gorecki, Part and others).


Senior Member
i'm dying to listen to this score but I'm going to save it for when I see the actual film like normal people do.
Edit- That wasn’t me dunking on you, John, but myself...even though it kind of read that way. I have bad habit of listening to the score first.
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Rob Elliott

Senior Member
JNH is a master. One of the fastest composers working today (remember what he had to do on King Kong when Shore got fired. As memory serves 2 hours of music that went to the scoring stage each day he wrote the previous day's work - all in under 3 weeks.)

In addition, I have approached my own projects in a similar way JNH approaches it - there is a themes phase and then a scoring phase. Each delve into different parts of the brain. My clients love when I can give them a couple\few suites based only on their narrative or an early script. Of course one benefit of this is.... their NOT getting temp love. I can be a part of sculpting the narrative - and not just a 're-do' of the last 2 years' most popular scores - but to their film.

And finally - not many are as versatile as JNH.

Mike T

Boring Member
Looking forward to hearing this, and to the film too. Malick brings out the best in composers!