The period referred to as the Golden age of cinema, was I suppose just that, it was a time when filmmakers seemed to be able to do no wrong with audiences and every day a new and exciting breakthrough was made within the motion picture industry. It was a time of rip roaring swashbucklers, intense and risqué romances, dastardly villains, cleaner than clean heroes and heroines and good old weepie’s, with storylines that were not exactly water tight but none the less good old entertainment. Everything was pretty much black and white within the area of the plots or storylines, good was good and bad was at times downright evil. But it was not just the movies that shone like precious and valuable golden nuggets during this period, music in motion pictures became an important and also a vital component of the whole filmmaking process.
Directors and producers utilising this fairly new commodity to its full potential to enhance and support their projects. I think it would be fair to state that film music owes a great debt of gratitude to composer Max Steiner, who broke new ground with his score for the 1933 version of KING KONG. What was interesting and innovative about Steiner’s approach on this movie was that the composer actually scored the music to the action taking place rather than just providing the movie with a constant musical background or wallpaper, which had been the norm up until then.
What Steiner started was soon to become the way forward for music in film or film music, thus the film score as we know it was born and rapidly evolved and improved as time passed, composers such as Korngold, Rozsa, Newman, Toimkin and Waxman became sought after by filmmakers and studios and their scores and style of writing has now become a reference for all other composers that have followed. But let us also not forget that whilst all this music was being produced in Tinsel town, British films too had a Golden age and composers such as Sir William Walton, Ralph Vaughn Williams, Sir Arthur Bliss, Richard Addinsell, Clifton Parker, Sir Arnold Bax, William Alwyn and Alan Rawsthorne were responsible for writing some great movie soundtracks during the 1930s and 1940s, a fact that is slightly overshadowed and neglected because of the Hollywood film score. But Alwyn, Williams and Walton in particular were responsible for creating a sound and a style that was to become synonymous with the British produced movie.
It is quite unbelievable that it has not been till recent years that scores from British films from this period have been given any time or space by record companies, and it is thanks to labels like Chandos, Naxos and Silver Screen that collectors have got to savour the musical masterpieces created by these talented yet underrated composers. There were also composers in Europe that are most note worthy, who were very active and creative during this period.
These include the French composers Georges Auric, Arthur Honegger Jean Francaix and Henri Sauget, also we must not discount Dmitri Shotakovich and the great Sergei Prokfiev, who although thought of more as classical composers, worked their musical magic on numerous movies to great effect. So The Golden Age in film music was not restricted to Hollywood, therefore this section is dedicated to composers that worked in the United States, Europe and also in Gt Britain, and also composers that worked in more than one country such as Miklos Rozsa and Georges Auric