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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Album Cover Art
2001 Warner
2002 Bootleg (Sample)
Album 2 Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:

Notable Performances by:
Marcia Crayford
Randy Kerber
The London Voices

Orchestrated by:
Eddie Karam
Conrad Pope
Labels Icon
Warner Sunset Records
(October 30th, 2001)

Availability Icon
Regular U.S. release. The international release, and the one in Europe more specifically, was produced under the foreign name of the film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (for reasons ranging from the original name of the book to the perceptions of what a "sorcerer" is and, unfortunately, to the ever popular reports that angry Christian groups took their protest of the book to the name of the big screen adaptation).

The foreign version is a 2CD product, though only one of the CDs has John Williams music, and that material is identical to what you hear on the American release. The second CD only contains multimedia.

The "special first edition" pressing of the American album contained a little card inside the packaging that had a potentially winning number on it (you had to log on to the official soundtrack site before February 1st, 2002 to see if you had won). With a winning number, you could have won books, binders, Game Boy related software, or even, of all things, Harry Potter Lego bricks. None of the copies in Filmtracks' possession had a winning number, but for all you other non-winners (i.e. lovable losers) out there, you had the option of filling out a form at that site for a second chance. No odds of winning were given, of course, so your effort was probably futile.

The expanded bootlegs circulating around the secondary market starting in 2002 often contain different contents, but all exist on two CDs.
Nominated for an Academy Award and a Grammy Award.
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you're looking for just one of the Harry Potter scores to purchase, because this original entry by John Williams is a strong foundation for the franchise and features its best performances of recurring themes.

Avoid it... if you might be bothered by the fact that Williams doesn't stray too far from his comfort zone for this score, exposing several stylistic similarities to his previous works.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 8/14/01, REVISED 11/30/08
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: (John Williams) If ever there was a film both defined and confined by the weight of its own immense advance hype, it would be this initial adaptation of J.K. Rowling's famous series of "Harry Potter" stories to the screen in 2001. Much thought was placed in the translation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone into live action reality because a franchise of films was inevitable to follow, with the cast and crew carefully chosen and approved by Warner Brothers to avoid any chance of fumbling an obvious series of blockbuster earnings to result. The early films in franchise, directed by Chris Columbus, had the benefit of utilizing stories that could fit well into the length of one motion picture, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (or Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, as it's known internationally) is popularly and critically considered by many to be the best entry in the franchise. By the fourth film's release by Warner several years later, much of the original crew (and actor Richard Harris, of course) was no longer attached to the concept, and the quality of the films' haphazard adaptations of the longer stories diminished their appeal. One of the elements strongly favoring the first three films was the music by veteran franchise composer John Williams, who not only was the perfect choice for the assignment (despite rumors that James Horner had been offered the job) but whose themes for the world of wizardry would become yet another identity engrained for audiences of each successive film. Unfortunately, as the franchise began to rotate crews for its later entries, the thematic and stylistic identity so thoroughly cemented by Williams for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was largely lost by Patrick Doyle and Nicholas Hooper. Thus, in retrospect, the first score for the series has been increased in status through the years as subsequent composers have failed to uphold, despite considerable quality in parts of their own endeavors, the integrity established by Williams.

The belated elevation of the Oscar-nominated music for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to the highest regards is due not only to the inconsistent scores to follow the three by Williams for the franchise, but also the daunting set of circumstances facing it in 2001. The hype machine for the film and its music was tremendous, but even Warner's efforts to push the production's advertising to the limits of tolerance couldn't ultimately overshadow the immense quality and consequent attention towards Peter Jackson's concurrently released The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which featured a stunning score by Howard Shore that took home an Academy Award that year. No amount of effort by Williams could compete with the once-in-a-lifetime kind of trilogy of scores that Shore composed for J.R.R. Tolkien's world, proving that timing was not on the maestro's side. Williams made the best of the situation, though. He had faced similarly lofty expectations in the year before Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and had delivered a fantastic result. One comforting factor regarding Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for Williams was the chance to reunite once again with Columbus. His career in the early 2000's consisted mostly of projects for directors with whom he had already collaborated successfully, and the opportunity to be involved with the magic of this particular franchise led to the expected fantasy children's score of epic length and proportion. His work started early, too. The film represented the first time since 1991's Hook that Williams had composed a theme specifically meant for the theatrical trailers of the film (the impressive Hook prelude, as heard first on its album CD, made its debut in the film's trailer at the beginning of 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). Through these trailers and a much discussed concert performance of the trailer's music, Williams offered eager audiences a glimpse of the epic fantasy score to come.

For Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Williams broke from his usual practices and actually took the time to read Rowling's book for inspiration (and he reportedly enjoyed it, too). Upon seeing rough edits of the film in the spring of 2001, Williams was impressed even further. Unfortunately, due to scheduling conflicts later in that summer, Williams was unable to secure the services of the London Symphony Orchestra for this score, though other suitable London performers (along with the London Voices choir) were collected for the occasion. Williams' enthusiasm for this project was evident in the words he stated early about the score in concerts and interviews. In a May 18th, 2001, article in the Boston Globe, Williams discussed the "darkly alluring orchestral waltz" that he wrote for the first trailer. "I developed a theme for Hedwig," Williams said. "Everyone seemed to like it, so I will probably use that music as one thread in the tapestry." Regarding the length of the score, Williams stated, "I imagine there will be a lot of music in the film, and Chris Columbus has told me that the film is long and that he needs to whittle it down. That's a very hard and heartbreaking process for a director, and it's very difficult for a composer, too. Sometimes I have written as much as 20 minutes of music for a film that was never used. I am a composer who likes to develop and combine themes, and it is awkward to develop themes that have never been properly introduced because the scenes they were written for have been cut from the film." On the topic of the book reading, Williams explained his break from tradition by saying, "It is more valuable to me to be a tabula rasa; most of the audience doesn't know what's coming, and it's important to place myself in that same position. I want the film to make the first impression, and it is also the film itself that has to give me the right sense of pace and timing." In the case of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, though, Williams admits that he "liked it very much, and it made me want to read on, especially now that people have told me that each book gets better than the one before."

In an interesting side note, Williams discussed how difficult it is to predict how films with many children actors will perform. With Home Alone remaining a strong memory, Williams pointed out, "It is very hard to predict on the basis of auditions just what you are going to get from a young performer, but sometimes you get lucky. I have to say that everyone from Warner Brothers who has seen the film is very excited about it, including the hard-bitten professionals." Press interest in the score continued throughout the summer of 2001, and in a follow up story in the Boston Globe on July 6th, Williams indicated that his work on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was still continuing, and that he would finish it at Tanglewood within the subsequent two months. He concluded by mentioning, "I'm really cooking on it now. I've finished about an hour of the score, which means there is a lot left to go. Chris Columbus has done such a good job on this film, and all the old-time British character actors are terrific." At the Tanglewood concert on July 31st, during his conducting of the first theme of the score for an audience, Williams thrilled the crowd by announcing, "We thought we would play a little preview of something from Harry Potter. We're working on it currently and the film will be finished at the end of October. I'm about 2/3 of the way through a 2-hour score. We'd like to play a few minutes of it for you now as a preview with the exciting permission of our producers at Warner Brothers. You know the books and the film is about witches, and unicorns and owls and magic. And this particular little piece is about Hedwig the Owl who brings messages from the world of the witches to the world of the muggles... human beings... us. This is 'Hedwig's Theme' from Harry Potter." And with that performance, the famous opening "Prologue" heard (at least partially) in all of the films of the franchise was formally introduced in an arrangement that didn't differ much from that which has existed in numerous concerts and album performances since.

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Average: 4.07 Stars
***** 14,982 5 Stars
**** 8,304 4 Stars
*** 5,788 3 Stars
** 1,471 2 Stars
* 1,305 1 Stars
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Vincent - June 9, 2015, at 3:41 p.m.
1 comment  (181 views)
Help fund an up and coming composer!
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Complete Score
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Didn't this used to be a 4-star review?   Expand >>
hewhomustnotbenamed - December 12, 2010, at 11:04 a.m.
3 comments  (2816 views)
Newest: January 20, 2011, at 5:49 hewhomustnotbenamed
Williams' Wondrous World
Jouko Yli-Kiikka - July 24, 2009, at 3:37 a.m.
1 comment  (1579 views)

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
2001 Warner Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 73:34
Preliminary Listings (advertised prior to release):

• 1. Prologue (2:12)
• 2. The Arrival of Baby Harry (4:25)
• 3. Visit to the Zoo and Letters from Hogwarts (3:22)
• 4. Diagon Alley and The Gringotts Vault (4:06)
• 5. Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters and the Journey to Hogwarts (3:14)
• 6. Entry into the Great Hall and The Banquet (3:42)
• 7. Mr. Longbottom Flies (3:35)
• 8. Hogwarts Forever! and The Moving Stairs (3:46)
• 9. The Norwegian Ridgeback and A Change of Season (2:47)
• 10. The Quidditch Match (8:28)
• 11. Christmas at Hogwarts (2:56)
• 12. The Invisibility Cloak and The Library Scene (3:15)
• 13. Fluffy's Harp (2:38)
• 14. In the Devil's Snare and The Flying Keys (2:20)
• 15. The Chess Game (3:48)
• 16. The Face of Voldemort (6:10)
• 17. Leaving Hogwarts (2:10)
• 18. Harry's Wondrous World (5:21)
• 19. Hedwig's Theme (5:09)

Final Listings (as seen on the final release):

• 1. Prologue (2:12)
• 2. Harry's Wondrous World (5:21)
• 3. The Arrival of Baby Harry (4:25)
• 4. Visit to the Zoo and Letters from Hogwarts (3:22)
• 5. Diagon Alley and The Gringotts Vault (4:06)
• 6. Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters and the Journey to Hogwarts (3:14)
• 7. Entry into the Great Hall and The Banquet (3:42)
• 8. Mr. Longbottom Flies (3:35)
• 9. Hogwarts Forever! and The Moving Stairs (3:46)
• 10. The Norwegian Ridgeback and A Change of Season (2:47)
• 11. The Quidditch Match (8:28)
• 12. Christmas at Hogwarts (2:56)
• 13. The Invisibility Cloak and The Library Scene (3:15)
• 14. Fluffy's Harp (2:38)
• 15. In the Devil's Snare and The Flying Keys (2:20)
• 16. The Chess Game (3:48)
• 17. The Face of Voldemort (6:10)
• 18. Leaving Hogwarts (2:13)
• 19. Hedwig's Theme (5:09)
2002 Bootleg Sample Tracks   ▼Total Time: 103:49

Notes Icon
The 2001 Warner album's insert includes extensive credits and offers a short note from director Chris Columbus about the film and score. The packaging also unfolds into a rather unattractive poster. The bootlegs feature a wide range of fan-created art.
Copyright © 2001-2015, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone are Copyright © 2001, Warner Sunset Records, Bootleg and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 8/14/01 and last updated 11/30/08.
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