Top 15 Pieces of Music in the ‘Harry Potter’ Franchise

When Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released in 1997, little did we know how much of an international giant it would become—a further six books, eight films, two spin-off films, a play, theme parks, video games and more. Although it’s still a franchise nestled in (most of) our hearts, it maybe hasn’t aged as well as well as the Oscar-celebrated Lord of the Rings and newer franchises like Game of Thrones. Sure, it’s occasionally a little woolly around the edges, a little hokey, and has encouraged people to get terrible deathly hallows tattoos. But one aspect that retains all its magic – along with its quotability, Britishness, humour and heart – is the music. Instantly recognizable and heart-swelling, the films contain a treasure trove of music that gives an instant hit of nostalgia when listened to today. Here are our 15 top picks—although, something that isn’t up for discussion is how Prisoner of Azkaban is the best film. No question.

15. “Flight of the Order of the Phoenix”

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Nicholas Hooper

As the Order of the Phoenix whisks Harry away from Privet Drive following the dementor attack and his pending expulsion from Hogwarts, this piece of music accompanies them flying over the London skyline.

14. “The Tunnel”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Alexandre Desplat

To be honest, I can’t remember exactly where in Deathly Hallows – Part 2 this piece of music plays—our trio are probably being chased somewhere. But it’s pretty cool: eerie, tense and melancholy.

13. “Hogwarts’ March”

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Patrick Doyle

As jolly as it sounds, this piece of music is pretty heartbreaking. It starts playing jubilantly as Harry returns from the final round of the Triwizard Tournament, with the crowds thinking he is the winner. Little did they know that he has a freshly-murdered Cedric Diggory with him, prompting maybe the most quotable part of this film: “MY BOOOOOOOOY!”

12. “Dumbledore’s Army”

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Nicholas Hooper

There’s a distinct lack of happy music the later the films get. But this piece of music – where members of Dumbledore’s Army are all learning how to conjure their patronus – is pretty damn lovely.

11. “Christmas at Hogwarts”

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, John Williams

The entire franchise is indebted to John Williams and his early score for crafting the sense of magical warmth associated with Hogwarts. Though the first film is admittedly pretty lame, it definitely has the most iconic music.

10. “Potter Waltz”

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Patrick Doyle

After a pretty pissed Parvati hisses “take my waist,” at a bemused, sweaty-teenager-hormonal-phase Harry, the two of them engage in some pretty odd dancing before everyone gets up and joins them. If nothing, I love this scene for its chaos.

9. “Dumbledore’s Farewell”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Nicholas Hooper

This is when the franchise began to get really dark: the death of the series’ patriarch, Dumbledore. It’s a solemn moment as students and teaches slowly raise their wands in solidarity.

8. “Harry in Winter”

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Patrick Doyle

Despite Goblet of Fire being chock-full of Triwizard Tournament content and a lot of political machinations, it really gave space for the main characters to have emotional, personal developments. I think this piece of music really reflects that.

7. “Wizard Wheezes”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Nicholas Hooper

The only piece of music in the Potter franchise that you could legitimately lindy-hop to, which I can only respect.

6. “Fawkes Is Reborn”

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, John Williams

Chamber of Secrets is a bit of a mess, but when Fawkes is reborn from the ashes like a creepy little chicken, a beautiful piece of music by the legendary John Williams plays.

5. “Neville’s Waltz”

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Patrick Doyle

I love this piece of music by Patrick Doyle, which allowed us to temporarily take a break from all the horror of impending threat and allow us to watch Neville practise his waltz. As we should.

4. “Fireworks”

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Nicholas Hooper

Harry et al are all sat to take their OWLs, but Harry is pretty preoccupied about how to take down the saccharinely evil Professor Umbridge. How will it happen? What sneaky plan needs to be formulated? A big dragon made out of fireworks should do the trick. Sure.

3. “Prologue”

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, John Williams

Would be rude not to, right?

2. “Lily’s Theme”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Alexandre Desplat

Slow, sad, elegiac: this haunting piece of music by Alexandre Desplat really taps into a sense of hopelessness towards the end of the final film, where all seems lost. All Harry can rely on to keep going in pursuit of his insurmountable mission is to remember those who gave their lives for this cause: namely, his mother Lily.

1. “Leaving Hogwarts”

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, John Williams

Even listening to this theme – which plays at the end of the first and last film – makes tears prick in my eyes. John Williams sure knows how to craft an epic, swelling piece of music, and this theme is surely one of the best in cinematic history, let alone this franchise.

Words by Steph Green

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