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Thread: Sad Sad Sad Year for Film Music

  1. #1

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    Sad Sad Sad Year for Film Music

    I am posting this in tribute in a few places.

    Three composers have died in the span of one month. Two of whom were absolute LEGENDS and who were still working to this day. I am a huge film music fan and collector, and would like to post little notes about their careers.

    JERRY GOLDSMITH was born in 1929. He started working under the legendary Alfred Newman (who composed the music for the original Fox Fanfare and many great film scores such as 1956's ANASTASIA) and started composing for himself in the late 1960s. He was chosen to compose the music for the original Planet Of The Apes in 1968. He was asked to compose the music for the very first Star Trek movie, an immense task because the television theme was so well-known. He surprised and pleased listeners and viewers with an amazing theme that would be used later in Star Trek: The Next Generation. He would compose most of the Star Trek films, including Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Nemesis. In 1976 he earned his first and only Academy Award for his absolutely CHILLING score to THE OMEN, and was also nominated for Best Original Song for the film's opening title, Ave Satani. In 1982 he composed for his first animated film, The Secret of NIMH. Goldsmith said he had no idea how to score an animated film, so he acted as if it were live action, and that proved very successful. Its lush strings and beautiful main theme, a lullabye, earned him critical praise. He would go on to create scores for tons of films using all kinds of technology such as synthesizers and he would compose for nearly every genre of film.He was nominated for another Oscar in 1998 for his work on MULAN for which he did the incredible score. Skating fans will remember him best for scores to The Mummy, which was used by many a skater including Angela Nikodinov and Elvis Stojko and Takeshi Honda, and First Knight, which was used by Todd Eldredge in the 1998 Olympic Games in Nagano. He continued to score films in the 2000s but unfortunately he was diagnosed with cancer (I am not sure when or which type, so sorry). He continued to give concerts worldwide, and a big concert was planned in London for his 75th birthday in June. Sadly, he was too sick to go, but the concert was still on for another conductor. A box set of music was released to honor the big 75, but sadly after his birthday, on July 21st, Goldsmith lost his battle with cancer. His funeral was attended by many a composer, including James Newton Howard (The Village, Atlantis, Dinosaur, Signs, Unbreakable, The Sixth Sense), Thomas Newman (nominated for an Oscar this year for his work on FINDING NEMO) and David Newman (who was nominated AND ROBBED in 1997 for his work on Fox's animated film ANASTASIA), both of whom are sons of the late Alfred Newman. The last film Goldsmith composed for was Looney Tunes: Back In Action. He composed also for Timeline, but the score was rejected. Now, there is talk of taking his score and releasing it on CD. Goldsmith also wrote many a classic television theme, including the well-known TWILIGHT ZONE.

    On August 9th, another composer died. David Raksin, best known for his theme to the mystery Laura, passed away from heart failure. He was 92. Sadly I know very very little about any of the films he composed for, but he was best known it seems for his mystery themes.

    Raksin's Profile on IMDB

    Perhaps you may know more films than I do. Though I do not know his work well, and though his last work was 5 years ago, he will still be missed.

    Finally, the crushing blow came on August 19th. The reason I fell in love with film music passed away at 2:00 PM. I was 7 years old when my father forced me to watch The Ten Commandments. The opening credits were long, and there was nothing really to do but listen to the music. I fell in love with film music because of this man. The incredible score to that film filled my ears and heart with delight.He is one of the reasons I love the movie so much. Oscar-winner ELMER BERNSTEIN was as legendary as Goldsmith. He too lasted through six decades and composed for over 200 feature films. He composed the music for The Magnificent Seven, The Ten Commandments, Thoroughly Modern Melville for which he won his first and only Oscar, Ghostbusters, Far From Heaven, and many other films. He was nominated 14 times for Oscars, including last year (2003) for his work on Far From Heaven. When I heard on the news that he died I was absolutely devastated. Three composers in a month's span. Honestly that's unheard of lol. Bernstein was 82. He and the other two are truly legends.

    All my thoughts and prayers go out to the families of these magnificent composers and wonderful men.

    I should like to add that November last year the world lost another composer, who was only 53 or so. That's younger than my mom. MICHAEL KAMEN was a thematic and melodic composer best known for his work on X-Men the TV show and first feature film, as well as MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS, and best known to skating fans as the composer of THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1993) and ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES. He died of heart problems. I know I for one will miss him dearly.
    Last edited by anya_angie; 08-20-2004 at 08:05 AM. Reason: poor grammar LOL

  2. #2
    On the Ice Mathman's Avatar
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    Jun 2003

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    Thank you for the thoughtful post, Anya Angie. My favorite Elmer Bernstein score is that marvellous classic, To Kill a Mockingbird. And my second favorite is a charming if lesser known film, also about the South in the 1930s, Ramblin' Rose. All of these giants of the profession will be sorely missed.


  3. #3
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    I can imagine that the Oscars next year could very easily have a tribute segment just for these 3 musical giants - and I can't believe I hadn't heard about David Raksin's passing!

    I had read that Raskin had originally composed the tune known as "Laura" for Judy Garland, whom he had had a romance with in the 1940's, and that the tune was originally named "Judy". Whether this is true or not I cannot say.

  4. #4
    ~ Figure Skating Is My Passion ~ Ladskater's Avatar
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    Jul 2003

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    Yes, both Jerry Goldsmith and Elmer Bernstein were giants. Bernstein's music was wonderful. Who does not remember the Magnificent Seven theme? and of course, the haunting, to Kill a Mockinbird score. Truly a sad loss to the film industry. I thought it was too bad that Bernstein was not awarded another academy award last year for "Almost Heaven" the music was beautiful. It would have been his last crowning glory. Now, of course, they will post humously pay a tribute to him.

  5. #5
    Bona Fide Member iluvtodd's Avatar
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    Thanks for all of this information, anya_angie. Although I will never be as knowledgeable as you are with movie soundtracks, I have come to appreciate many of the ones you've mentioned, partly due to my love of skating. I can't imagine movies without great, stirring, sensitive (where appropriate) music. What a loss with all of these wonderful composers within the last few months. I'll never forget Elmer Bernstein's score to "The Ten Commandments." Michael Kamen's "Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves is still my all-time favorite movie soundtrack (and I do have to thank the skaters for choosing that one). I can't watch the first 15-20 minutes of the movie (I'm very squeamish about violence), but I that score!

    One little correction (and I'm certainly not trying to nitpick) - Todd skated to Jerry Goldsmith's "First Knight" in 1996 (when he won Worlds ) , at the 1998 Worlds (where he won silver ), and at the 1998 Goodwill Games (where he won gold ). He skated to "Gettysburg" in the Nagano 1998 Olympics ( over those results) .
    Last edited by iluvtodd; 08-21-2004 at 05:51 AM.

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    Why no mention of Korngold at Warner Brothers?


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    The name was unfamilliar to me until I checked IMDB (I got little information on Yes, Erich Wolfgang Korngold was a legendary composer, but he died in 1957. Oh, no doubt he is worthy of rememberance, his music lives on, with his scores to The Adventures of Robin Hood and Captain Blood and other such swashbuckling scores, they're still remembered today, but honestly I found his Robin Hood not as exciting as Michael Kamen's, but that's just me. Counterparts today seem to be John Debney, with his breathtaking and perfect Cutthroat Island (the best pirate score and the best pirate movie) and I think I would include Alan Silvestri on that list of people who followed in his footsteps because his action scores are amazing, such as The Mummy Returns and Back To The Future trilogy, and was the original composer for Pirates of the Carribean, but was dumped in favor of newcomer Klaus .Badelt working with several other composers.

    Thank you for correcting me Iluvtodd hehe I remembered so little about the Olympics that year other than Ilia's spellbinding performance lol. I do remember him using it at the Goodwill Games though, really liked it. Didn't see the worlds performance, only remember being stunned that Yagudin won at such a young age haha.

    All people who work "behind-the-scenes" in movies should be remembered, like the special effects people, costume designers, cinematographers, etc. One thing that always draws me into a film though is the music. Usually from the opening credits I can tell whether I will like the film as a whole or not.

    I saw an old old old thread on some skating board that said Non-Boring Movie Soundtracks (that skaters use). I was like HUH? People are so shallow. I suppose hearing Swan Lake five times a day for competitions would be less boring? LOL sorry. Thankfully I remember many people posted Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was great, however no one seemed to remember that there are more parts to that score than the stunning overture. I for one love the love theme heard in Maid Marian and Marian At The Waterfall, the exciting Training - Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and the peppy Little John and the Band In The Forest. And of course I love the ending score track, The Abduction and the Final Battle at the Gallows.

    I fear I must disagree with you, Ladskater, on your wish that the Oscar had gone to Bernstein last year. Elliot Goldenthal had aa very challenging task at his hands, he had to compose for dances before filming began. Not to mention he has been snubbed by the Academy before, he was nominated a few times, once for Michael Collins, and once for Interview With The Vampire (which he had to compose in two weeks, because George Fenton's score was rejected.). I have never heard Michael Collins but Interview has a big piece of my heart, its sweeping epic theme nearly made me cry, it spoke so well of heartache and melancholy. But back to the score at hand. Frida was the film he won for, and I would say rightfully so, it speaks well of the film and the woman who inspired it. This I think is a rare score, but not Goldenthal's best ironically. His best was the film Titus, (or so I have heard, I have not heard it LOL so I can not say!). For Frida, he uses ethnic instruments, and that can really help a score at times. Look at John Debney's The Passion of the Christ, which uses authentic instruments of the day. Instruments and even the right orchestra can often times have a huge impact on the way the score is received by the average listener. Some collectors get scores just because they are performed by a particular orchestra.

    Sleepy Hollow by Danny Elfman is a classic example of what might have been and what is. I for one love the movie and score, even though it carries elements that he has used before (a haunting, music-box-like tone to it in some parts, blasting trumpets and others, percussion, etc.) He chose his usual choices for this, the London Symphony Orchestra and the choir The London Voices. However he added an extra treat for us listeners that made watching the movie wonderful a children's choir. This is utilized well because The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is in essance a children's story, and has a child-like quality to the sound of the music, much like his earlier work, Edward Scissorhands. He takes elements from his earlier works and combines them and adds something new. You hear a bit of Batman and The Frighteners in there. Without Elfman, without the children's choir, without any choir, the score would be frightfully (no pun intended LOL) dull, IMHO. Elfman's use of voices are his trademark, as well as his soft trumpets that go into a crescendo, as heard in the Batman theme. Suppose you replace these trademarks with something only remotely similar, like some type of horn, like the French or English, it would not be as chilling IMHO. It would not be as wistful without the choir. And without the LSO, it's just my personal opinion that the score could very well have had a "sink or swim" predicament.

    Elfman totally abandoned his horrific style when he was chosen to write the score for the blockbuster CHICAGO. Some fans bought the CD who didn't like or know the musical just so they could hear the 15 minutes of jazz score that he composed and released on it.

  8. #8
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    Great posts Anya Angie. Film scores are more and more becoming the only "serious" contemporary music being written today, and all of today's composors owe so much to composers such as Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein, and David Raksin, as well as many, many others who laid the foundation for a whole new form of music: the film score.

    And ITA with your point about skating and movie music. The problem I have is that oftentimes, skaters go with the popular movie not because of the music, but because of the movie. For example, even though "Road to Perdition," "The English Patient," and "Unfaithful" don't have figure skating "stories," the music in the scores is gorgeous and wonderful for skating, IMHO. Get a good editor and you've got a beautiful and unique piece that we haven't heard year in and year out.

    Thanks for your elegies to these great composers as well as your thoughts on film scores in general. Very interesting reading.

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