Conan: The Barbarian
Originally, producer Dino De Laurentiis had planned a soundtrack of pop music for the movie, but was eventually persuaded by Milius to use a full orchestral score. Ennio Morricone was considered by the producers for writing the score but Milius hired the composer Basil Poledouris, a former classmate of his from the film department at the University of Southern California, and assigned him to make “a continuous musical drama.” The result was a choral and orchestral soundtrack that fills nearly every moment of the film, with pronounced use of leitmotifs to portray mood and character.
The violent early portions of the movie are filled with intense pieces including “Anvil of Crom”, played by 24 french horns, strings and timpani, and “Riders of Doom”, inspired by Prokofiev’s “The Battle on Ice” from the score of the 1938 Alexander Nevsky film by Sergei Eisenstein and the derived cantata as well as from Carl Orff’s famous “O Fortuna” movement from his 1937 Carmina Burana cantata. Thulsa Doom’s theme, heard throughout the film score, is a tribute to a leitmotif from Miklós Rózsa’s 1951 score for Quo Vadis. In the piece called ‘Prelude’, elements of the same theme can be heard at 00:47, 00:54 and 01:33. Rózsa’s influence is very present in Conan the Barbarian’s soundtrack.
A number of quieter pieces fill the middle of the movie, including “Civilization”, “The Leaving”, “The Search”, and the sensuous “The Orgy” (co-written with his then 9-year old daughter Zoë Poledouris) which resembles Gustav Holst’s The Planets Op.32 “Jupiter”. The music again intensifies for a series of battle sequences at the end of the film. Other string sections resemble “Variations on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, namely “Atlantean Sword”.
The original recording of this soundtrack is performed by the Orchestra & Chorus of Santa Cecilia and Radio Symphony of Rome. A short version of the soundtrack was originally released by Milan Records; although most widely available, both it and the subsequent Varèse Sarabande album are currently out-of-print. Both consist of the original recordings as played in the film. Pieces which are missing from both publications of the original soundtrack include a number of early music themes which were sampled by Pouledouris as source music, including “Tower of Set”; a variation of Como poden, one of the Cantigas de Santa Maria from a recording originally made by the “Clemencic Consort” in 1976. These pieces utilize medieval and renaissance instruments to add a mood of antiquity to the film.
Several of the pieces, including the “Riders of Doom” are used in the movie trailers of other films, including First Knight in 1995 by Columbia Pictures (theme can be heard at 1:33). “Riders of Doom” is also used in the first trailers for several games in the Legend of Zelda series, as well as in the opening track of the Prepare for War album by black metal band Demoniac. It was again used in the 2004 video game Conan, which otherwise used its own original soundtrack. (Wikipedia)