Composer Reber Clark has written some truly atmospheric and affecting music for movies and other such visual and audio projects. One of his recent film scores was for the feature HOUSE OF THE GORGON which was released at the end of 2019, it is an independent production, and has in it cast line up a number of familiar names such as, Caroline Munroe, Martine Beswick, Veronica Carlson and Christopher Neame. Written and directed by Joshua Kennedy, who at the age of just twenty-five has made sixteen movies, yes, I kid you not.  HOUSE OF THE GORGON’S initial attraction therefore for me personally was the cast and also the music which I heard before I saw the movie. The thing we have to remember is not to dismiss any independent or low budget film till we have actually viewed it, because at times we can be pleasantly entertained and surprised. Kennedy is a self-confessed anglophile and his cinematic likes and obsessions can be seen in some of his filmic output. Titles such as DRACULA AD 2015, ATTACK OF THE OCTOPUSS PEOPLE, VOYAGE TO THE PLANET OF TEENAGE CAVEWOMEN and ALPHA OMEGA MAN will give you some idea of where his inspiration comes from.  HOUSE OF THE GORGON is I suppose a fusion of old-style horror as in the films of Roger Corman and Mario Bava which is combined with the styles of Hammer, Tigon and Tyburn films with a little bit of Amicus thrown in for good measure and hints of Agatha Christie too. It’s a fairly-straight forward and simple storyline, if a horror/mystery can be straight forward at all that is. In which we see a young girl going to a house in a village where two weird sisters live, she is going there to marry her Fiancé who is portrayed by the Director Kennedy. Anyway, the Gorgon sisters played by Caroline Munro and Martine Beswick are looking eternal youth, and yes you guessed it they have discovered they can get this from the blood of a virgin. The film although low budget is surprisingly good, well I enjoyed it, and I loved the way that both Munroe and Beswick act it up and go way over the top. Veronica Carlson is also excellent in the role of Anna Banning a women struggling with a drink problem and also the Mother of the young girl, Carlson shows us a side of her acting prowess that maybe she had not been able to tap into during her Hammer days. The movie is filled with Hammer references and also has lines from various Hammer movies, the actors kind of throwing them in here and there, but when one thinks about it this was a stroke of genius from the writer/director as its a joy for real fans of Hammer’s gothic horrors and also I found myself thinking where I had heard that line before? I am not going to say to you that THE HOUSE OF THE GORGON is a horror masterpiece or even that I know you will relish it, but it’s a good yarn, yes there are a few problems with variable sound and at times the focus is much to be desired on the camera shots, but hey we cant all be Steven Spielberg and even he had to start somewhere.

I was however much impressed with the directors recreation of the cinematography and camera work of Hammer’s classic 1966 movie THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES with effective and inventive use of the colour filter within the sequence.
The music however is another story, this is a score that I will say is excellent, and yes, I will recommend that you go get it NOW!  (but order it online you must follow the government guidelines and stay at home).






Reber Clark has fashioned a pulsating and menacing sounding score, but also has managed to infuse romantic and melodious passages that evoke perfectly the sound and style of the Gothic Horror as relayed previously by both Hammer and American International Pictures. I was reminded of the music of James Bernard and Herman Stein when listening to the opening cue, it is grandiose and imposing with a sweeping theme being performed by strings, brass and piano with flyaway sounding woods, timpani, and underlying organ towards the cues conclusion. it is a luscious and darkly decadent piece, urgent and opulent but at the same time compelling and lavish. The strings maybe synthetic, but it is the way that the composer uses the tools at his disposal that gives us the overall sound that oozes quality and establishes a rich and totally absorbing style. The score contains a few short cues which are wonderfully atmospheric and do conjure up a distinct mood that is filled with fear and purvey a sinister and unsettling aura. But the work also has to it a few cues in which the composer can develop and bring to fruition more pronounced and thematic material, that ranges from full blown action and powerful passages to more apprehensive and low-key interludes.



The composer also employs choral support within the track EXORCISM, and melds this almost serene sound with a more unnerving and jagged style, which is effective and attention grabbing. He incorporates a chiming clock and then lets loose with a combination of brass, strings and percussion, the blaring and near discordant hors blasting and jolting the piece into a more urgent sounding composition. The choral work too becomes more threatening, but as the track comes to its end the music returns to a more settled style and even has to it a sense of hope. This is a score that you should own, I guarantee that you will love it. Recommended.




Some of the composer’s most recent work include music for Joshua Kennedy’s feature length House of the Gorgon, winner of the 2019 Rondo Hatton Award for Best Independent Film, starring Caroline Munro, Martine Beswick, Christopher Neame, and Veronica Carlson – music for Clarke M. Smith’s film You Are Me, a concert band commission entitled Over the Sparkling Sea, for the Lisle School District, Lisle, IL, now published worldwide by C. Alan Publications, original music and orchestrations for the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society’s The Curious Sea Shanties of Innsmouth, Mass,  and re-orchestrating the prelude to Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Sinfonia Antarctica for wind ensemble. As composer for the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society’s Dark Adventure Radio Theatre he has composed music for The Haunter of the Dark   Mad Science, Dagon: War of Worlds,  The Case of Charles Dexter Ward,  Herbert West: Reanimator, and Bad Medicine. He is a highly creative composer and has a number of new projects in development.




Are you fully locked down and is it something you are dealing with day by day or have you a routine?

My personal routine has not changed much. My wife began telecommuting a day or so a week quite a while ago and we adapted without too much uproar. Now she telecommutes all day and in general things are fine. I am used to a quiet house when I’m working (like a quiet studio) so we had some very small noise issues but all in all I have not really changed anything. We are not on a hard lockdown. We can go to the store, exercise in the park, etc.


Have you been writing music and are you involved on a project at the moment?

Oh yes, I write and record every day. They really are two separate disciplines. Not that what comes out is any good but I think keeping the muscles exercised is important. I usually have a few projects going. I’m working with Joshua Kennedy on some upcoming movies and I’m working on two personal albums of music right now. I am producing my own short film which utilizes puppetry and effects and it is current set up in my basement. However, paying jobs continue to interrupt its progress which is fine by me! I have an album based on the poetry of Robert E. Howard and an album concerning Lovecraft’s Dream-Quest. There are a few other’s things which slip my mind at the moment.

3, Have you turned to listening to anything in-particular whilst you have been lockdown?

Not really. I don’t listen much for pleasure any more but I do when I research. Most recently I’ve listened to James Newton Howard’s score for “King Kong”, “This Island Earth”, a few months ago I was deeply into Max Steiner. I listen to some podcasts – “Voluminous” by the HPLHS and the Ray Harryhausen Foundation in Scotland has put up some discussions of the music in his films. Also the Berliner Philharmoniker’s online Digital Streaming is free now.


4. Do you watch the news just once a day or are you looking at it off and on all day?

Oh, God. The “News”. I get my briefing from Google News in the morning with breakfast. I might check it off and on during the day but not very much. I am interested in straight reporting and not opinions, so I avoid most news outlets. I never follow sports unless it’s sailing or the Tour de France. We have taken to calling our local news “Murders and Weather” which is just about the truth.



5. What about visual entertainment, what have you been watching, any movies or box sets at all?

Oh, yes. This is my main entertaiment. Before the plague I bought the entire run of Game of Thrones on blu-ray. I had not seen any of it before. I’ve now completed it and it was fantastic! We’ve just completed “Onward!” and “1917”. We watch quite a bit maybe one or two a night. So, there’s more but nothing is springing to mind right now. BTW I did buy Woody Allen’s autobiography and it’s excellent so far. Also, on order are Steven Smith’s bio of Max Steiner, a book on tiki culture and drinks entitled “Smuggler’s Cove” recommended by Sean Branney of the HPLHS, and “The South American Gentleman’s Companion” a treatise on cocktails from that region. On my Kindle I have “Red Brain” which is the second volume of collected Mythos stories by S. T. Joshi after “A Mountain Walked”, several Robert E. Howard collections, and some weird western stories.


6, Whats the food supply like where you are, are the stores better stocked now?

Food seems to be no problem. Paper products are hit and miss. We have never eaten out much and I do most of the cooking day to day anyway. I know how to stock a pantry and fridge with staples and make almost anything from that. Also, I’m learning to smoke meats which is fun on the weekends. They were rationing bread when last my wife went to the store but that’s no longer the case. The store has put stickers on the floor at checkout to keep patrons 6 feet apart. Alcohol is in abundance.


7, Do you think that films music and the way that we work and lead our lives will alter greatly when this is over?

Probably not for me. Most of my work is over the internet so as long as it’s up and running, and we have power, my procedures won’t change much. I do some live large ensemble work so I’m sure that will change but making music is making music and it will continue. Our local theatres have closed, and the parking lots are empty. So, theatre attendance will affect how things are distributed and where. I did notice the cost of mainstream films on streaming was very high when all of this started – up to $20 US per rental, but that has changed. First run films are mostly $5.99 US now – to stream.


8. Are you sharing any of you film music to others during the pandemic…

All of my stuff is completely free to listen to at

There is also my website at



Prime time TV shows have certainly altered over the years and shows such as THE SWEENEY which we took for granted during the 1970’s, would be welcomed by many for the prime-time Saturday night slot. It began in 1975 and ran for three years. I for one would rather have Regan and Carter on screen than Ant and Dec or Simon Cowell and the dimbo bimbo Amanda Holden and all these so called talent shows, reality farces and loosely titled variety programmes, TV companies now not really comprehending the words variety or quality.




At least the SWEENEY had some sort of direction even if it was at times filled with bad haircuts, alcohol swilling chain smoking police officers who were just as bad as the villains they were trying to catch, each episode being filled with endless punch ups, car chases and coppers saying shut it or your nicked. The opening titles for the show were memorable, and the shows pulsating and dramatic up-tempo theme although short was a sure way to bring people out of the kitchen or any other room in the house and into the lounge to sit and watch for the next hour. The now familiar theme was the work of Harry South who also provided each episode with a lighter arrangement of the opening track. South was born in Fulham on September 7th, 1929, he was a jazz pianist. composer and arranger who started to work in TV in the late 1960’s. But had an already established career which had begun a decade before during the 1950’s, performing alongside fellow jazz artists such as Joe Harriot, Tubby Hayes and Tony Crombie.




The remainder of the scores were the work of various composers and most of the music was taken from the likes of the KPM library, and not specifically composed for the series. The music that was utilised within the series came courtesy of composers Brian Bennett, Keith Mansfield, John Cameron, Wally Asp and Peter Reno to name just a few. Before I go any further I will say I am not going to mention after this point the music for the re-boot version of THE SWEENEY which was released to cinema’s in 2012, the movie and the score by the third rate Lorne Balfe was an abomination and should never be spoken of ever, so Shut It right.

There is a wealth of music contained within the series, and also the two movies that came out of the series also contained some great tracks, the film scores being courtesy of well-known music-smiths Denis King for THE SWEENEY 1977 and Tony Hatch for SWEENEY 2 in 1978. The sound of the TV series was very much akin to the sound that was being used with Italian spy and sex movies of the late 1960’s and into the 1970’s. It had to it a dramatic presence, but fundamentally it was a funky, pop orientated/jazz/big band infused style. Hammond organ electric guitar, percussion and breathy sounding woods featured large, and became the staple musical accompaniment of many of the shows, bold and tuneful brass flourishes that also acted as musical punctuation to the proceedings were in abundance.

The opening theme itself set the tone for much of what was utilised within the shows, As composers such as Barry Morgan, Simon Haseley, Duncan Lamont, Brian Dee, Stephen Gray and Johnny Pearson amongst others let loose with their own particular brand of knock em’ down and drag em’ out musical passages.


sweeney 2 movie1

I would not say that the music fitted the action or the scenarios like the proverbial glove, but it certainly added atmosphere and set the mood for what was going on in the many storylines. Because a lot of the music was taken from music libraries, I suppose it was the job of the music editor as they were credited to match the tracks to the action and select a suitable piece to enhance and underline it. As in the disco based FUNKO by Bruton music library composers, Irvin Martin and Brian Dee, which was also utilised in an episode of SPACE 1999, or the fast-paced percussion backed dark piano loops and breathy woods of FLYING SQUAD by former Shadows drummer Brian Bennet or the bombastic and Hammond organ led BORCA by Simon Haseley who many might be more familiar with as Simon Park who shot into the public gaze in 1972 with his theme for the TV series VAN DER VALK (EYE LEVEL) reaching number one in the British pop charts in the latter part of 1972. SKY and CURVED AIR band member and composer performer Francis Monkman also contributed via his track STRESS from the NIGHTMARE episode in 1978.



Monkman of course became known for his powerful score to the British gangster movie THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY in 1980, which had a style and sound somewhat akin to the music from THE  SWEENEY. Monkman’s gritty soundtrack for THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY was re mastered and re-issued in 2016 by British soundtrack label Silva Screen. The soundtrack that accompanied the flying squad on screen was also in many ways fairly typical of British TV music from the 1970’s jazz orientated and filled with bold and pounding beats. Composer Roy Budd had already trod this path with his iconic score for the 1971, gangster film GET CARTER and if you are a fan of this style of scoring then THE SWEENEY music department will be right up your street.




In recent years composers such as Daniel Pemberton adopted this sound in his score for THE MAN FROM UNCLE re-boot in 2015, and there are glimpses of the style present in other scores by Pemberton such as, OCEANS 8. So, the music that we or at least some of used to hear on a Saturday night on Thames TV in the UK, would eventually influence later scores and inspire contemporary composers, many of whom would re-create it or take the sound and add to it their own musical identity. CHARLIES ANGELS the latest re-boot too has a foundation based upon funky beats. THE SWEENEY was a show that people straight away associate with the 1970’s and the music was the sound of a decade, the sound of dramatic TV in the 1970’s.







Are you in self isolation or are you just observing the recommendations where you are?


I have been on my own stay-home measure since the virus has been spreading throughout China and Europe.



What have you been doing to remain occupied, are you continuing to write music?

My life hasn’t much changed, since the life of composers is self-isolating. So, I believe today, most of the planet is experiencing the life of composers.
I am scoring a psychological thriller right now, and then I will be writing for a brass quintet. Lately, I’ve been watching the Berliner play Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra (Rattle), and Hosokawa’s Concerto for Horn and Orchestra(Rattle), after hearing of Wallace Roney’s death I played the “Tribute to Miles” album, and today, frustrated of being stuck inside, I played Iron Maiden “I’m Running Free” and “Phantom of the Opera”, the Paul Di’Anno versions of course.

Likewise, have you been watching more TV or movies or maybe box sets?
I haven’t watched any box set. The last movie I saw was the amazing Korean masterpiece called “Burning” by Lee Chang-dong, there is one of the most evocative sequence I’ve ever seen in the middle of the movie of a girl dancing in the sunset over Miles Davis’s score to Louis Malle’s “Lift to the Gallows”. Mind-blowing.






Have you been surprised at the way a minority of people are acting during the pandemic?


I am not surprised by what is happening during the partial lockdown. We react like our societies shaped us. This catastrophe magnifies the inhuman nature of our economic engine, but we have to transform this disaster into an opportunity to change this obsolete and unjust system unfit to face the life-threatening challenges that we’re facing right now and tomorrow.



Do you think that our lives will alter after the Pandemic?

Life after COVID-19 will be different. When scientists were talking about future natural apocalyptical catastrophes, it was hard for some people to integrate, because it was too abstract. From today, there is a universal, humbling, and undeniable reference that magnified the fragility of our own survival as a species.







It was 1972, I was seventeen years of age and I remember saying to a record shop in London over the phone, YES BUT IS IT GOOD? Oh, how naive I was. I was at the time enquiring about a new release on RCA RED SEAL entitled THE SEA HAWK- THE CLASSIC FILM SCORES OF ERICH WOLFGANG KORNGOLD. Did I buy it of course I did and still have it too and the subsequent CD release and also its on my Spotify too. As a child I do remember the film being shown on TV and loving it but was the music something I was conscious of when I saw the movie probably not, although I do recall loving the music for THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD. So, this was the first album in a series of many that were to see the light of day with the National Philharmonic Orchestra re-creating the wonderful themes of the Golden age of Hollywood, under the baton of the esteemed conductor Charles Gerhardt. The series would be a hit with collectors of film music, even the then less informed ones.



It brought back so many memories for people who had heard the scores in numerous movies as children. It also opened up a whole new world of film music for others who never experienced the likes of Korngold, Newman, Steiner and others. Gerhardt’s attention to detail in the reconstruction and in the conducting of these scores is evident because of the brightness and the quality of each and every subsequent release within this treasure trove series. The National Philharmonic was made up of musicians from many of London’s leading orchestras, so essentially it was the best of the best, and this showed within these recordings more than any other time. The vibrant brass section is complimented by the luxurious sounding string section and embellished by wistful woods, pounding percussion and the eloquent and virtuosity of solo performers and other sections of the orchestra. The sound achieved was formidable and anything else that had been recorded before or come to think of it after these re recordings paled in their illuminating style.



The selections on THE SEA HAWK compilation range from the 90 second piece from DECEPTION to a wonderfully absorbing eight minute arrangement from ESCAPE ME NEVER. I think at the time of its release it was THE SEA HAWK that attracted my attention more than anything although I was mesmerised and still am by TOMORROW from THE CONSTANT NYMPH with its glorious melody and eternal lyrics. Gerhardt was in my opinion the first conductor to give the classic film music of Hollywood the respect it had been due for decades, re-vitalising it and bringing to a younger audience in such an exquisite way, filled with energy and having to it a positively grandiose aura. First release also included music from KINGS ROW, ANTHONY ADVERSE, DEVOTION, DECEPTION, JUAREZ, BETWEEN TWO WORLDS, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD and OF HUMAN BONDAGE. It still today stands as a beacon of glorious musical works that every film music collector worth their salt should own.


NEGATIV_Korngold am Klavier, ca. 1940

Born in Vienna on May 12th, 1897, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, was destined to become one of the worlds most celebrated and revered composers of music for the cinema. His musical aptitude being so advanced that he was able to play piano proficiently by the age of just five. He found it relatively easy to play melodies and tunes on the instrument after hearing them just moments beforehand. By the time he had reached his seventh birthday Korngold was able to write music, he was looked upon as a genius by many and hailed as a child prodigy. His Father took the advice of a number of composers such as Mahler, that it would be a waste of time to send the young musician to study at a conservatory, he was so advanced in his musical knowledge that it was highly improbable that he would actually learn anything or gain any more knowledge from doing so. At just eleven years of age Erich Korngold had his first important musical work performed, it was entitled THE SNOWMAN. This was in Vienna at the Court Opera, in the presence of honoured guests which included, Emperor Franz Josef. After this Korngold composed works for chamber orchestra and also symphonic works. In 1915, at the age of eighteen, Korngold wrote two operas. Four years after this he composed his first score for the theatre, this was a production of William Shakespeare’s MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. In 1920, his opera THE DEAD CITY made its debut, this transpired to be the composers most successful work and is regarded even by today’s musical experts as one of the major operatic works of the twentieth century. Korngold’s first foray into writing for the cinema came in 1934, this is when the composer went to America and in Hollywood supervised the music for Max Reinhardt’s cinematic version of A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM, the play had been a huge success at the Hollywood bowl and Warner brothers films were keen to have it transferred to celluloid. Reinhardt told the film company that he would agree to do the movie, but only if he could retain the stage score by Mendelssohn and also told Warner’s that Korngold was the only person he trusted to adapt it and enlarge the score for the film, he also wanted Korngold to conduct the music, Warner’s agreed. Korngold’s work on the production assisted its impact and also its overall presentation. The composer received much recognition for his work on the production and it was this that prompted Warner Brothers to offer the composer another scoring assignment which was CAPTAIN BLOOD.


The scoring schedule on BLOOD was very tight indeed, the movie needed an hour of fully symphonic music and Korngold had just three weeks to create it. Because of the scoring timetable that Warner’s had imposed on Korngold for the film, the composer decided to utilize sections of symphonic poems by Franz Liszt. The composer using the sections, PROMETHEUS, for the final sword fight between the films two main protagonists, played by Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone, he also used Liszt’s MAZEPPA for the films sea battle sequence with the French fleet which came at the end of the movie. Warner Brothers were more than pleased with the score that Korngold had written for their swashbuckler, and the composer was almost immediately offered a contract with the studio. Korngold was to become the first composer known internationally to have a contract with a film studio, and Warner’s were so pleased that they had managed to secure the composers services that the contract might as well have been written by Korngold himself. It stipulated that he did not have to do any movie he did not like, also it stated that he would only have to work on three scores during a two year period, and that his music would remain his property at all times.
The composer’s contract with the studio came to an end in 1946, and after scoring the Bette Davies movie DECEPTION, Korngold decided to retire from scoring films. Because his last few movies had been less than runaway successes at the box office the composer began to lose interest in film. In 1956 Korngold suffered a stroke and was almost completely paralyzed, just over a year later on November 29th, 1957, the composer had a heart attack and died, he was sixty years of age. Korngold’s film music career may have been short lived, but in a handful of years the composer created numerous scores that would become an important part of film music history and also a part of the history of cinema, his music is grand, operatic and oozing with vibrant and passionate themes, ANTHONY ADVERSE, JUAREZ, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD,THE SEA HAWK, KINGS ROW,THE CONSTANT NYMPH,OF HUMAN BONDAGE,THE SEA WOLF and numerous others all benefited greatly from the lush and highly romantic and dramatic music of Korngold, film music has been a poorer art form since his passing.

But don’t stop at this one classic album, because there are many others within the series that are now thought of as classics all over again because of the way in which Gerhardt presented them and adoringly promoted them. Later release would showcase the works of the Hollywood film music Maestro of the fittingly dubbed Golden Age, Miklos Rosza, Franz Waxman, Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Newman, Max Steiner all would be represented and of course there would be mor from Korngold two more albums in fact, which took ELIZABETH AND ESSEX and CAPTAIN BLOOD as their main title heading.




Gerhardt also recorded a full version of the classic Max Steiner score for GONE WITH THE WIND, again this is a release that still attracts much attention today from collectors old and new. So if you love these classic movies and are in love with the rich and luxurious music that enhanced them this series is for you, The second LP to be issued in the series was NOW VOYAGER THE CLASSIC FILM SCORES OF MAX STEINER, again I still have it, KING KONG, THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE, THE FOUNTAINHEAD, JOHNNY BELINDA, THE INFORMER, SINCE YOU WENT AWAY, THE BIG SLEEP, they and more are all there, it is a collection of musical excellence which of the highest quality and of the most romantic, dramatic and heart breaking too.



Many refer to Max Steiner as the Father of film music, and in many ways, this is a title that the composer holds deservedly. It was Steiner after all that introduced a style of scoring that would be utilised for many years and inspired so many composers to write music for the cinema, a style that would be developed and also would evolve to become what film scoring is today.




Maximillian Raoul Steiner was born in Vienna on May 10th 1888. He was the grandson of the musical impresario who is credited for discovering Strauss and was also responsible for bringing Offenbach to Vienna and introducing the composer to the Viennese court. With such a full and rich musical home life, it is not a surprise that the young Steiner developed into a musical prodigy. The composer’s father, also had creative and artistic connections and was a theatrical producer, who had promoted and befriended Brahms, and it was this composer that Steiner’s father asked to give Max piano lessons. At the age of just 13yrs the young composer/musician had already completed and graduated from the Imperial Academy of Music in Austria, winning the Gold Medal of the Emperor. By the time he had reached his 16th birthday Steiner was already conducting, composing, and continuing his studies under the revered composer Gustav Mahler.

Steiner decided to leave Austria in 1905 and journey to England, where he took up the position of conductor at His Majesties Theatre in London.
He stayed at the theatre for nine years and in 1914 with the assistance of his friend The Duke of Westminster Steiner made his way to The United States at first settling in New York where he worked steadily as an arranger on musicals and operettas, it was at this time that he also began to compose and conduct music to accompany silent film screenings. This type of musical work interested Steiner greatly as he could obviously see the potential for such a medium. Whilst working on one such assignment for a movie entitled THE BONDMAN, Steiner became good friends with film maker William Fox, it was this film and this friendship that would eventually lead the composer to Hollywood where in 1929 he worked as an orchestrator on RIO RITA for Ziegfield. But it was at RKO pictures that Steiner was given the opportunity to begin to develop the ideas he had concerning the way in which motion pictures should be scores and also the way in which the music should add to the atmosphere of a film. Adapting the ideas of Richard Wagner,

Steiner developed a style of writing for film that meant the music did not just act as a background heard playing continuously without direction or purpose, the score became part of the film and the action, in essence it became an integral and important factor of the movie. His scores for films such as KING KONG and THE INFORMER were perfect examples of this leitmotif style of music which Steiner would eventually become well known for pioneering in film scoring. Steiner however did have his critics and at the outset of his career in film scoring many referred to his style as Mickey Mousing, but filmmakers and audiences alike took to it immediately, after leaving RKO Steiner went to work for David O Selznick and stated work on GONE WITH THE WIND after the success of this the composer was hired by Warner Brothers where he was to stay for the majority of his working life. Steiner’s first assignment for the Warner Brothers studio was a movie entitled TOVARICH, and later Steiner utilised a section of this score and turned it into the now familiar Warner Brothers fanfare, which was heard at the beginning of every movie that they released. During his glittering and illustrious career Max Steiner was responsible for scoring more than 250 movies and received no less than 26 Academy award Nominations for his work, he won the coveted Oscar statue on three occasions, this was for his music to, THE INFORMER,SINCE YOU WENT AWAY and NOW VOYAGER.

Max Steiner was a driving force and source of inspiration within the film music arena and created the blueprint which showed others how a film should be scored. The composer passed away on December 28th, 1971 after a long battle against cancer and failing eyesight. He remains The Father of Film music to many dedicated followers, and his music lives on and is still well respected.


I am not 100% sure but I think I am correct when I say that it was CAPTAIN FROM CASTILE THE CLASSIC FILM SCORES OF ALFRED NEWMAN that was released next, and this has always been one of my most cherished recordings, I think it was the suite from THE SONG OF BERNADETTE that I listened to most, but it also contained a faithful version of the composers rousing theme from AIRPORT, which although was I suppose a contemporary score also came into the category of being a classic in the eyes of many. Newman I think was a composer I was already aware of because as a child I was taken to see movies such as HOW THE WEST WAS WON which is a film where no one can’t avoid the rich sounds of Americana that he created, that powerful opening theme still sends shivers down my spine.

This collection opened with the familiar and stirring 20TH CENTURY FOX FANFARE which Newman had penned for the studios, this performance also including the Cinema scope extension. The familiar fanfare has since its creation become an important part of film history. This segues into STREET SCENE from King Vidor’s 1931 production of the same name, THE SENTIMENTAL RHAPSODY as it was known was also used in numerous film noir pictures as either background or an opening. Most memorably the music was used as the overture for HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE in 1953. It has a luxurious sound and a vibrant persona to it, evoking memories of the style displayed by George Gershwin in his RHAPSODY IN BLUE written in 1924. The next section is a suite of music from CAPTAIN FROM CASTILE, an historical adventure released in 1947, the film which was directed by Henry King starred Tyrone Power, Cesar Romero and Jean Peters. The story was set in Spain during the 16th Century. Adapted from the 145 novel of the same name by Samuel Shellabarger, the film focuses upon the first part of the story in which the central character played by Tyrone Power suffers injustice and persecution from the cruel Spanish Inquisition and of his escape from his native Spain to the New World where he enlists as a mercenary in an expedition to conquer Mexico. Newman’s music is romantic and powerful and contains a particularly lilting and melodic love theme as well as a patriotic and rousing march. It is lush and luxurious and was in my opinion typical of many of the Hollywood scores that were written during the post war period. An abundance of haunting and Hispanic sounding themes adorn the movie and it is one of the composers most accomplished, but that is as I say my opinion. The next cue is CATHY’S THEME from the 1939 William Wyler directed WUTHERING HEIGHTS, which starred Merle Oberon as Cathy and Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff.
The cast also included David Niven and Flora Robson. Not surprisingly, Newman’s score was filled with romantic overtones and haunting rich thematic material.
DOWN TO THE SEA IN SHIPS is always a track I remember when I first heard the recording, it was brief but an entertaining and joyous sounding hornpipe, taken from the Henry Hathaway directed motion picture which was released in 1949, the film starred Richard Widmark, Lionel Barrymore and Dean Stockwell. Newman’s robust and invigorating soundtrack enhanced and underlined the action and the drama as it unfolded. Next, we are treated to a seven-minute suite from THE SONG OF BERNADETTE, this is a simply stunning score, in which we hear the composer at his best with majestic and fragile sounding themes combining to create a commanding and memorable soundtrack. Helmed by filmmaker Henry King, the movie which starred Jennifer Jones, Vincent Price, William Eythe, Lee J Cobb and Charles Bickford, was a great success at the box office.

The movie was released in 1945 and Newman’s score played an important and an integral role within the film, especially within the scenes when the young girl claimed that she saw the Madonna. When Bernadette Soubirous first claimed to see what she called her shining lady in 1858, the locals were sceptical, and many said that she was insane. The local authoritarians went as far as to board up the place where she claimed to have had the vision and did all in their power to make her out as a fraud. But after being treated badly and branded a mad liar the Roman Catholic Church finally believed her, and Bernadette spent the last years of her life in a convent. THE SONG OF BERNADETTE suite is most certainly the highlight of this collection, it is a glorious and at times apprehensive piece, but one that entertains and also when heard in the movie moves one to tears. Other selections on the album included the rousing opening theme from THE BRAVADOS which is entitled THE HUNTERS, plus ANASTASIA, THE ROBE, AIRPORT and LONDON CALLING.


Alfred Newman was born in Connecticut in 1901, he was one of the eldest children in a family of ten. He began to take a keen interest in music from an early age and aged just 5 years he began to have piano lessons and two years later was performing in public. He studied at the Von Ende school of music in New York, where he concentrated on piano under the tutelage of Sigismond Stojowski and counterpoint and composition under the watchful gaze of George Wedge and Rubin Goldmart.
The young Newman made an impression on his teachers and won medals for his high standard of piano performance.
After his time at the school of music Newman continued to take further musical education from Arnold Shoenberg. During his teen Newman began to perform piano to support himself and also his family, after leaving the school and finishing his studies he was introduced to Broadway by the vaudeville producer Grace La Rue, he began to conduct a handful of shows and these became very successful and as they did Newman’s reputation as a fine conductor arranger spread. He finally got his big break in 1920 when George Gershwin appointed him as musical director for THE GEORGE WHITE SCANDALS, which ran till the latter part of 1921. Newman continued to work on Broadway for just over a decade, he was involved in numerous productions that involved Gershwin, Jerome Kern and even Al Jolson.
In 1930, Newman received a commission from Irving Berlin and the young composer travelled to Hollywood, Berlin had written the theme for a film entitled REACHING FOR THE MOON and had asked Newman to be musical director on the movie. Newman decided that he liked Hollywood and settled in California and it was at this time that the composer met Samuel Goldwyn who introduced him to the studio system. Newman’s career is phenomenal and he is probably one of the most prolific composers of film scores ever, he wrote the music to well over 200 motion pictures and acted as musical director and supervisor on hundreds of others, he adapted lots of musicals which had been successful on Broadway when they were brought to the big screen and also worked with Charlie Chaplin, conducting the actors music for MODERN TIMES and CITY LIGHTS, it is also Newman’s music that we hear at the beginning of every 20th Century fox movie and TV show, this has to be one of the most familiar pieces of music that is connected with the cinema. In 1940, Newman began to work for Fox, he was MD for the studio and not only wrote numerous film scores during this time, but also hired various composers and assigned them to films.

It was Newman who championed Hugo Friedhofer and also gave Jerry Goldsmith his first big break in the film music arena. Newman’s music was to become a fixture within Hollywood and his sons David and Thomas carried on the family tradition by themselves becoming highly respected and sought-after film music composers and his nephew Randy is also an Oscar winning composer and lyricist. In 1960, Newman decided to leave Fox and go freelance, and he was certainly not short of assignments, it was during this period that the composer wrote the powerful score for the western HOW THE WEST WAS WON and provided THE FLOWER DRUM SONG with its musical accompaniment.

Alfred Newman garnered forty-five Academy Award nominations during his long and illustrious career and won the Oscar on nine occasions. His musical career spanned four decades, and his techniques and stylish orchestrations have had far reaching influences at times manifesting themselves within other composers works for the cinema. Alfred Newman passed away in February 1970, his last film score AIRPORT received an Oscar nomination just one month later. Newman’s rich and sweeping soundtracks brought a new dimension to the movies he worked on, like Max Steiner, Alfred Newman was an innovator and an inspiration to numerous other composers. He was also responsible for developing a new system for scoring pictures. This System is a means of synchronising the performance and recording of a movie score with the film itself. A rough cut of the film is shown for the conductor to look at whilst in the recording session, the film is marked with punches and streamers. Punches are tiny marks in the film, for two of every ten frames, creating a standard beat to help the conductor keep time. To synchronise music and action, the conductor then uses streamers, that are horizontal lines which move across the screen at a regular pace. This system devised by Newman revolutionized the way in which films were scored.
What came next, well to be honest I am not sure, I know I had all the LP,s and always eagerly awaited any new addition to the series, as I have already said there were more recordings which focused upon the music of Korngold, and also other releases that featured music from the films of Bette Davies, Errol Flynn and Humphrey Bogart, which included the music of Victor Young and Hugo Friedhofer.  Composers such as Dimitri Tiomkin also had albums dedicated to their shining works for cinema in his case LOST HORIZON headlined the collection dedicated to the Russian born Maestro with a lengthy suite from the movie opening the recording which also included music from THE GUNS OF NAVARONE, THE FOURPOSTER, THE BIG SKY, FRIENDLY PERSUASION and a suite from THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD.


After the initial release this and other titles from the series were re-issued onto compact disc, then a handful were given the quadraphonic treatment and released on the Vocalion label.


Dimitri Tiomkin was one of Hollywood’s most revered and respected composers of film scores and he was responsible for creating lush and lavish music for some of the best known movies to come out of tinsel town, the composer had a talent for creating so many scores for movies that not only worked perfectly in conjunction with the movie but also these vibrant and tuneful works had a life all of their own away from the images that they were originally intended to enhance. Tiomkin began his career in the period that many refer to as the Golden age of film music. It was a time when cinema screens were dominated by rip roaring swashbucklers, intense and risqué romances, dastardly villains, cleaner than clean heroes and heroines and good old weepies many of which contained storylines that were not exactly water tight or historically correct but none the less were good old fashion entertainment, that were uncomplicated and provided escapism for the watching audiences. Everything during this period was pretty much black and white within the area of the plots or storylines, good was good and bad was at times downright evil. It was during this period that Tiomkin along with Alfred Newman, Erich Korngold, Max Steiner, Franz Waxman, Miklos Rozsa, Hugo Friedhofer, Bernard Herrmann and their like, penned sumptuous and thrilling scores that are now regarded as classics and these often majestic, emotive and stirring works were to become the blue prints for many a modern day film score, acting as inspiration for the film composers that followed. Tiomkin’s connection with music for film began back in his native Russia, the composer’s professional debut was in the picture houses of St. Petersburg, where he would accompany Russian and French silent films. He also provided accompaniment for the ballerina Thamar Karsavina on piano when she performed on army post tours and improvised again on the piano during performances by the comedian Max Linder.

These experiences and the skills that he collected whilst working within this environment were to stand him in good stead for what was to follow when he re-located to the United States and the hills of Hollywood to pursue a career as a movie music composer. Tiomkin began to score movies as early as 1929, one such example was MGM’s DEVIL MAY CARE, which was a historical musical that included an Albertina Rasch ballet sequence filmed in Technicolor, which had music by Tiomkin. The composer worked prolifically throughout the 1930,s through the war years of the 1940,s, where he was responsible for writing the music to a number of documentary/news films for the United States war department such as BATTLE OF BRITAIN and BATTLE OF RUSSIA both in 1943 and THE NEGRO SOLDIER and TUNISIAN VICTORY in 1944.

After the war Tiomkin began to work on numerous Hollywood productions, such as IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, DUEL IN THE SUN, RED RIVER etc, working with directors such as Howard Hawks, Frank Capra, King Vidor, Anatole Litvak and Richard Fleischer, to name but a handful. The 1950,s were to prove to be a fruitful time for the composer as he scored numerous films that are now looked upon as classic examples of American cinema, HIGH NOON, THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY, LAND OF THE PHARAOHS, THE THING, GIANT, FRIENDLY PERSUASION, GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL, WILD IS THE WIND, THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, RIO BRAVO, LAST TRAIN FROM GUN HILL ,THE MEN which introduced Marlon Brando to cinema audiences and his highly acclaimed music for RHAPSODY OF STEEL and many more including the now famous theme for the television series RAWHIDE, which starred a fresh faced Clint Eastwood before he became a household name via his role in the westerns of Italian director Sergio Leone. The 1960,s too were good for fans of the enigmatic Tiomkin, he worked on some of that decades biggest blockbusters and enhanced and supported movies such as, THE ALAMO, 55 DAYS AT PEKING, THE UNFORGIVEN,THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, THE GUNS OF NAVARONE, THE SUNDOWNERS, THE WAR WAGON and CIRCUS WORLD with his unmistakable and original sounding musical fingerprint. Also, at this time Tiomkin began to produce movies and we saw his name appear on the credits of films such as MACKENNAS GOLD as co-producer.


SPELLBOUND THE CLASSIC FILM SCORES OF MIKLOS ROZSA was another within the series that was re-issued onto compact disc and then released with quadraphonic sound on Vocalion records. The stunning recording is a firm favourite, and the quality of the performance is outstanding. It included music from films such as THE RED HOUSE, THE THIEF OF BAGDAD, THE LOST WEEKEND, THE JUNGLE BOOK, THE FOUR FEATHERS, DOUBLE INDEMNITY, IVANHOE, KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE and SPELLBOUND. Interpreting the music of Rozsa at times can be difficult, the Maestro had his own unique sound, but Gerhardt managed to coax the same sound from the National Philharmonic under its leader Sidney Sax.



To say that Miklos Rozsa was a prolific composer of music for the cinema is certainly an understatement, plus we should not forget Rozsa was not just a composer of magnificent film scores but also wrote music for the concert hall another area in which he excelled. Born in Budapest Hungary in 1907, Rozsa was the son of an influential industrialist and land owner. Rozsa came from an affluent family and most of his early years were spent at the family’s country estate in the county of NOGRAD which lay close to the Matra mountains. His first encounter wit music came when his was just five years of age, it was then that he began to study the viola and piano, just three years later after celebrating his eighth birthday he began to perform in public and made his initial attempts at composing music. His Father however was convinced that music was not the right career move for his Son, so insisted that Rozsa should set out to get an all-round good education. Miklos attended a High school in Budapest for this education, but still remained actively involved in his study of music. After a while he moved to Leipzig where he began to study Chemistry. These studies however were short lived and after some intervention by Herrmann Grabner Rozsa’s Father was persuaded to allow his son to study music on a full-time basis and concentrate on making it his career. He began to study at the Leipzig conservatory and in his last years there would often stand in for Tutors giving lectures and also instructing fellow students. Rozsa’s first published orchestral work was a piece entitled HUNGARIAN SERENADE for small orchestra which was given its premiere performance in Budapest during the summer of 1929 by The Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Erno Dohnanyi (sometimes known as Ernst von Dohnányi). The piece was well received and garnered Rozsa much acclaim from composers such as Richard Strauss.rozsa5

Rozsa soon established himself as a composer of note and built up an impressive musical canon, he collaborated with his friend and fellow composer Arthur Honegger to stage a concert of their combined musical works at the Salle Debussy in Paris. It was whilst working alongside Honegger that Rozsa heard the composer’s music for the move LES MISERABLES and became interested in the concept of writing music for the cinema and utilizing music to heighten the dramatic impact of film. After watching LES MISERABLES and seeing how music enhanced the images on screen Rozsa decided that composing music for movies was what he wanted to do. In 1936, he travelled to England to work on a ballet entitled HUNGARIA, and whilst there was asked to compose the score for Alexander Korda’s production of KNIGHT WITHOUT ARMOUR (1937).


The movie and also Rozsa’s musical score were a great success and later that year the composer was engaged to write the music for another Korda production THUNDER IN THE CITY (1937), shortly after this assignment the composer was signed to the permanent staff of London films which was Korda’s production company. Rozsa first major scoring assignment came in 1939, when he wrote the music for THE FOUR FEATHERS, after this he worked on a movie that is probably still regarded by many as the composers most accomplished and memorable work for cinema which was THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD (1940). The film and the music thrilled and delighted audiences all over the world and became a lucrative production for the Korda organisation and was also the score that would lead Rozsa to Hollywood, this was because of the outbreak of WWll and the entire production of the movie including Rozsa being relocated to the United States who at that time were not involved in the conflict. The composer’s first Hollywood score was to come two years later when he penned the soundtrack to Korda’s THE JUNGLE BOOK (1942). The composer made a recording of a suite of music from the movie and also included narration on the recording by the film’s star Sabu, this was the first time that film music had been released on a recording in the United States and it proved to be very popular.

In 1945 the composer wrote the score for Hitchcock’s SPELLBOUND and his hauntingly mesmerising soundtrack established him even more as a composer of worth and also garnered him an Academy Award for his efforts, in the same year Rozsa composed the music for Billy Wilders THE LOST WEEKEND and for this he employed what is probably the first electronic instrument within the score the Theremin. In 1947 the composer was awarded the Oscar for his music to George Cukor’s A DOUBLE LIFE and one year later Rozsa joined the staff at Metro Goldwyn Mayer, it is probably true to say that it was whilst at M.G.M that the composer was at his most prolific, writing the scores to such movies as QUO VADIS (1951), BEN HUR (1959), EL CID (1961) and KING OF KINGS (1962). He was awarded an Oscar for his monumental soundtrack to BEN HUR and received much acclaim for his epic score to EL CID. The latter becoming a firm favourite among numerous collectors of film music. As the Golden age of film music reached its sunset and the Silver age began to dawn film making trends and practices altered and styles of film production changed (not necessarily for the better) thus many up and coming film makers were attempting to create their own unique approaches to making movies and this did include the way in which music was utilized within film. Younger composers were beginning to break into the film music arena and although not turning their backs on the what had up till then been the traditional way of scoring movies were inventing new sounds and styles.

Rozsa however remained busy during this period even though he had himself acknowledged that EL CID was his last major film score. The composer created several noteworthy scores that in many connoisseurs’ opinions were more worthy than the films they were intended to enhance. There were also thankfully a number of production that were creditable vessels for his wonderful themes, these in my opinion included, PROVIDENCE, THE LAST EMBRACE, THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, TIME AFTER TIME and DEAD MEN DON’T WEAR PLAID, the latter title including a score that parodied Rozsa’s own style and sound that he had employed in movies such as THE NAKED CITY, THE KILLERS and BRUTE FORCE. During the 1980,s the composer was forced to retire from writing music because of failing eyesight, he passed away on July 27th 1995 aged 88, he left behind a rich and varied tapestry of musical works and is still influencing film music in the 21st Century via his powerful, sumptuous, haunting and innovative style of composing for the motion picture industry.

There has never been anything like the CLASSIC FILM SCORE SERIES and although there are many worthy re-recordings out there of Golden Age film music, for me it was the Charles Gerhardt series that fired my interest in the music of that period and also.







These were both stunning albums and were also re-issued to compact disc in later years as was LAURA THE CLASSIC FILM SCORES OF DAVID RAKSIN, which included selections from FOREVER AMBER, THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL as well as the beguiling music from LAURA. Gerhardt even conducted music from STAR WARS and THE RETURN OF THE JEDI in a wonderful recording that featured the track HERE THEY COME from A NEW HOPE for the first time. The performances appeared in differing compilations and some of the early recordings were given more developed arrangements in the form of suites instead of just the themes or principal cues being featured. Charles Gerhardt passed away in 1999, if he had lived and was working still in the film music business, what wonderful recordings do you think we would have been gifted?