The violin lends itself well to particularly melancholic and morose tracks. In fact, most people associate the violin with sad songs.
And to prove that point, we have taken a look at some of the best and saddest violin songs, most of which are from TV shows and movies.
Let’s get to it!
1. Theme from Schindler’s List
Schindler’s List is easily one of the saddest blockbuster Hollywood films to ever grace the screen. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film depicts the tale of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who played an instrumental role in helping Jewish people escape Nazi Germany.
In addition to gorgeous cinematography and incredible performances from every cast member, Schindler’s List is notable for its score. Composed by long-time Spielberg collaborator John Williams, the film’s music is hauntingly beautiful, and the central theme perfectly sets the melancholy tone for the rest of the picture.
2. Time by Hans Zimmer
Hans Zimmer is well-known for his epic, sweeping scores. He has contributed to several blockbuster franchises, including the Pirates of the Caribbean series, James Bond, and The Dark Knight trilogy.
Despite the bravado his music inspires, Hans Zimmer knows how to coax subtle emotions out of viewers and listeners. This is particularly apparent in “Time,” a piece he composed for the Inception soundtrack, which shimmers and wavers with an undeniable melancholy.
3. The Quality of Mercy by Max Richter
The Leftovers is one of the generation’s most underrated shows. Despite consistent critical acclaim, it never found as broad an audience as – say – Game of Thrones or other HBO dramas and is now considered a cult show.
Perhaps one of the primary reasons for the show’s lack of viewership is its grim tone. Set in the modern-day, The Leftovers depicts a catastrophic global event in which 2% of the world’s population suddenly vanishes. The show pulls no punches, and the score is suitably melancholic. In particular, the track “The Quality of Mercy” will send a shiver down your spine.
4. Love Theme from Cinema Paradiso
Ennio Morricone is a Hollywood veteran at this point. The Spanish composer has contributed his immense talents to the likes of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly; The Mission; and a host of other films spanning many genres.
Morricone can coax a wide range of emotions from his listeners, and while he is primarily known for his Western scores, his music could not be confined to a single genre. Take Cinema Paradiso, a coming-of-age drama where Morricone shows off his skills with the likes of “Amore” or “Love Theme.”
5. Near Light by Olafur Arnalds
Taking a break from movies for a second, we would like to take the opportunity to give credit to someone who indeed does not receive enough. Olafur Arnalds is an Icelandic musician with immense talent, a bona fide musical genius who can mix traditional instrumentation with modern production to create a gorgeous soundscape.
“Near Light” is taken off of Living Room Songs, his 2011 album. It is a profoundly sad track showing Arnalds’ skill at weaving together disparate elements to create a cohesive whole.
6. Scene of a Disaster by Alexander Rosskopf
Seeing as though we have already taken the time to shout out one young and talented musician, we may as well do another. Alexander Rosskopf is an Austrian musician and a classical and film music composer.
His talents cannot be understated. Alongside his career as a composer, he is also a heavy metal drummer. Still, Rosskopf is at his best when he is composing original pieces. Scene of a Disaster was released relatively recently in 2021, and it is a piece that will stay with you long after you have heard it.
7. The Night King by Ramin Djawadi
Although the show failed to stick the landing in its eighth and final season, there is no denying that Game of Thrones was once the best television show. Thanks to its stellar production quality, the incredible performances of every cast member, and a gripping story, the show never failed to impress throughout its earlier seasons.
However, one aspect of the show which never faltered in quality was the music. Composed by Ramin Djawadi, the score for Game of Thrones was sweeping and epic and – yes – at times sad. Alongside tracks like “The Rains of Castamere” and “The North Remembers,” “The Night King” is haunting and undeniably beautiful.
8. Experienced Many Battles from Naruto Shippuden
To say that the world of eastern animation is vast would be a massive understatement. While it is true that some of the best anime remain hidden gems to the rest of the world, some manage to find their way to audiences in the west.
Naruto Shippuden is arguably one of the biggest anime in the world. Although the show is primarily an action-adventure with comedic elements, it never failed to tug on the audience’s heartstrings when it wanted to. The track “Sengunbanba” or “Experienced Many Battles” is an excellent example of how the show could get you to care.
9. Dumbledore’s Farewell by Nicholas Hooper
The Harry Potter franchise remains a global phenomenon despite the main film series’ conclusion in 2012. Audiences quickly grew attached to Harry, Ron, Hermione, and the eclectic cast of students and teachers at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Because of this attachment to these characters, the films were often able to create genuine, affecting moments that stayed with audiences. When Dumbledore perished, audiences across the world wept. However, it is undeniable that his death would not be as tragic were it not for the beautiful score composed by Nicholas Hooper.
10. A Lannister Always Pays His Debts by Ramin Djawadi
Despite everything the final season put us through, we cannot help but return to Game of Thrones’ earlier seasons when the show was at its best. Every character was given their due, and the story captivated audiences with the twists and turns it took.
The Lannisters were fan favorites second only – perhaps – to the Starks of Winterfell. They gave us instantly quotable dialogue and were always a joy to watch. The song “A Lannister Always Pays His Debts” is a different version of “The Rains of Castamere,” the Lannister war song which infamously plays at the bloodbath that is the Red Wedding.
Alexandra loves playing the piano and guitar. She has always been a music lover, but it wasn’t until she was in high school that she realized how much she loved to play. It allowed her to express herself without having to be verbally expressive, which is something she found very empowering.