The role of Hollywood films in holding up a mirror–albeit sometimes a distorted one–to the American public is indisputable. Less discussed is their role in bringing a wide range of music–popular, classical, jazz, avant-garde, ethnic–to an unsuspecting audience. Whether the music is in the foreground, as in biographical movies about composers, for example, or in the background supporting the narrative, watching a movie educates the viewers' ears. Indeed, the role of movies in widening the public's aural palate has parallels with the role of art museums in broadening the public's visual taste. To supply the music needed for movies, Hollywood studios have employed a large number of composers of the most varied backgrounds, taking on a significant function as patron of contemporary music. This essay briefly examines some of the varied interactions of movies, music, and the public.

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