Stories » How 'Youth' Composer David Lang Snuck Classical Music Into Oscar Race / The Wrap

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How 'Youth' Composer David Lang Snuck Classical Music Into Oscar Race / The Wrap

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Like Frank Zappa, Yale professor David Lang is a highbrow composer with a taste for the bizarre, and an artist who has smuggled difficult work into mass culture. "Paradoxically, people are willing to hear stranger things in film than in the real world - film audiences are more open to music than a music audience is," said Lang, whose art song "Simple Song #3" in Paolo Sorrentino's "Youth" is a contender for the Best Original Song Oscar.

Instead of coming in at the end of filming, like most composers, Lang wrote the tune beforehand. The idea was to define the entire life's arc of Michael Caine‘s character, himself a composer, from lovestruck youth to rueful age. "The movie is saying the song is a character, almost, like a time capsule for him," said Lang, 58, who projected himself into the 80-something character as passionately as any Method actor.

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