David Lang Q&A: ‘Youth’ composer
In “Youth,” Michael Caine plays a world renowned composer reflecting upon his past and his future while vacationing in the Swiss Alps. David Lang, himself a world renowned Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, felt a special kinship with the character when he was brought on board to write the score. As he tells us during a recent webcam chat, “I really wanted it to be as accurate as possible. I really wanted to feel that this man was a real composer. It’s such a great gift to my field — to nerdy classical musicians everywhere — to make a major motion picture about a composer.
He continues, "I really loved the idea that it might be something that would happen to me. I really did try to project myself into the character as much as possible.” Lang also composed the film's original tune, “Simple Song,” a famous piece written by Caine’s character which he now refuses to play even at the behest of Queen Elizabeth II. “It was a huge amount of pressure to write that song,” he admits.
As he explains, “it was obvious from the very beginning that it had to be sort of capable of telling both sides of the Michael Caine character’s journey. It had to be something that was capable of showing how one talks about love to oneself when one is young and optimistic and happy, and has a life in front of them, and it also had to be capable of being where he is at the end of the movie. It had to show all of those emotions.”
Lang won th 2008 Pulitzer Prize in music for his piece “The Little Match Girl Passion,” based on the Hans Christian Anderson fable of the same name. When asked about the possibility of an Oscar nomination for his work on the film, Lang admits, “I’ve done OK in my field, so people seem to know me in my world. But movies are so powerful in everyone’s imagination, and they’re so important in our lives…the idea that I might be apart of that world is something that would be very exciting to me.”