<I>The Great</I>: Scoring Hulu's period series
Issue: May/June 2022

The Great: Scoring Hulu's period series

In Season 2 of Hulu’s The Great, Catherine finally takes the Russian throne. Now she is faced with liberating a country that doesn’t want to be. 

Elle Fanning stars in the Hulu series, which sees 10 episodes in its second season. Catherine battles her court, her team, even her own mother in a bid to bring the enlightenment to Russia. Meanwhile, she also battles her heart, as Peter (Nicholas Hoult) slowly transitions from much-hated husband into a new role.

Nathan Barr is the show’s composer and says Season 2 presented him with challenges as well as joy in the creation of its original score. One such challenge was walking the tonal ‘knife’s edge’ that was set up by creator/showrunner/EP Tony McNamara’s scripts. 

“Pushing too hard with emotion or comedy inevitably undercuts the brilliant performances, and so the score constantly strives to be outrageous yet restrained,” says Barr. “To that end, the Turkish Ambassador gets a theme which is quite subtle from a melodic standpoint, but is performed by a heckelphone and a baritone guitar. While anachronistic, it works perfectly in the show.”