Brief Encounter Part 4

sheet musicBrief Encounter screenwriter Noel Coward chose Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2” for the film’s soundtrack. The piece experienced a surge in popularity after the film’s release.

The concerto not only provides actual ambient music from the living room radio during Laura’s flashbacks but also punctuates the flashbacks. This was groundbreaking use of classical music in a non-musical setting as a dramatic device. It was also groundbreaking in that the film uses the music as more that just unobtrusive background music; it actually becomes part of the viewer’s primary level of consciousness, signaling (alongside the flashback structure) that what we are seeing is through Laura’s eyes. The music as a window into Laura’s soul is further emphasized by the fact that although the concerto was written by a man and chosen for the film by a man, it is played on the soundtrack by a female pianist named Eileen Joyce.


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