Category Archives: ARTICLES

Articles in this section reflect a personal view of the author only.

MUSICALS. A PERSONAL VIEW AND EXPERIENCE.

 

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As a child, I always remember being taken to the cinema to see various musicals, it was also with the appearance of a new channel in the form of BBC 2, on the telly box, that these musicals would be on the small screen normally on a Saturday afternoon, which I would sit and watch with my Grandparents. During the festive season there have been so many musical movies on the TV, either on terrestrial or satellite channels, which when you think about it was quite fortunate as there was nothing else on, or was that just me being picky. Old, new, good, not so good and some not hitting the mark at all were all shown from early morning to late at night and beyond. Which made me think as a collector of film music that maybe I had not given the musical a fair chance. I do remember when I was younger and people asking me what music I liked, I would say film music, they would then invariably say “Oh, so you like musicals then”. Well No not really, but yes if that’s what you think film music is.

 

Musicals

 

As I have matured, and my musical tastes have widened I find that I can listen to many genres of music and find something within these genres that I do like, maybe I am not as passionate about STORMZY or his like as I am about John Barry, Ennio Morricone and John Williams, but I do however give it a chance, even if that chance is fleeting before I invariably dismiss it. But, saying that It is a case of horses for courses, and the Stormzy or Clean Bandit of today, could end up being the revered classical Masters of tomorrow, just a thought to ponder (images of STORMY’S 15th Symphony being released on a recording format that has not yet been invented).

best-musicals

Anyway, back to musicals, now this genre is to me a little odd, because no matter what, I still cannot get it when suddenly a character who is walking down the road suddenly bursts into song, if we did that we would probably get sectioned in today’s society. But, there is no doubt whatsoever that the musical whether it be a movie, a TV series or a stage show has endured and has become more and more popular with audiences of all ages, take GLEE and HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL as examples (please take them). The younger age groups being entertained by the likes of songs from movies such as FROZEN, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST etc, and now that the Disney studio are re-making many of the classic animated movies as live action affairs, we can look forward to ALADDIN, THE LITTLE MERMAID, THE LION KING, POCAHONTAS and others coming to a screen near you, in the not too distant future.

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So, the younger generation are already being prepared for the Musical and hopefully when they become adults they will discover the wonders and great musical numbers from movies and stage shows such as LES MISERABLES, WICKED, WEST SIDE STORY, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, PAINT YOUR WAGON, OLIVER etc, as they say the list is endless, and trust me it certainly is. Now, I don’t know about you, but, when I watch a musical as a movie I do tend to listen to the musical score as well as the actual songs being performed, this could be the music that is backing the lyrics or even the underscore for the non-singing moments within the movie.

For example, OLIVER, by Lionel Bart has a soundtrack that we are all familiar with, but when you next sit down to watch Bart’s musical homage to Dickens, listen to the actual score, the music that is supporting and enhancing many of the moments within the movie, where there are no vocals from the cast. it is dramatic, poignant and emotive, in fact it is film music in the true sense because it is supporting and enhancing the scenarios and images on screen. But, listening to the music as well as watching the story unfold and listening to the vocals is not all, when in the theatre watching a musical live I also watch the orchestra if they are visible, it is all part of the mechanics of the show, scenery, acting, songs and music combine to bring us what is the musical. Another example of the score being interesting in a musical is INTO THE WOODS, yes, the songs are brilliant, but composer Stephen Sondheim also provides a dramatic and alluring score for many of the non-singing moments in the show/movie, such as, THE CLOAK AS RED AS BLOOD.

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But, saying this the entire soundtrack or show is underscored by such a strong collection of themes, that are lush, lavish and highly melodic. The same can be said for LES MISERABLES, this ever-popular operetta has a dramatic and rousing score, which makes one want to leap up to defend the barricades. But let’s go a little further back shall we. Back to the days of the Hollywood musical as interpreted by artists such as Gene Kelly, Maurice Chevalier, James Cagney, Gingers Rogers, William Powell, Shirley Temple, Mae West and not forgetting Fred Astaire, TOP HAT, SWING TIME, EASTER PARADE, SINGING IN THE RAIN, 42 ND STREET, FOOTLIGHT PARADE, LOVE ME TONIGHT, ALEXANDERS RAGTIME BAND, GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 and 1937, the titles are endless. Plus, Disney was there even then with SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS.

These seem a little tame compared with the more contemporary musical movies and shows these days. Back in the 1930,s they did not have the luxury of such sophisticated special effects and hi-tech recording techniques, But, they still managed in 99 percent of cases to turn out enthralling, blockbusting dance and song numbers that became part movie and musical history, and still today make people think “How did they do that”. Would a movie for example such as 42nd Street be made today to the same standard? not sure. Even movies such as OLIVER which was released in 1968, I do not think would be able to be produced these days and create the amount of interest it did back then. The sets, the extras, the amount of sheer talent assembled for one production etc. Nowadays productions seem to rely on one or two big names that cannot necessarily sing and then fill the cast with lesser known actors or performers but doing this has at times returned some surprising results as in LES MISERABLES and in other movies such as MOULIN ROUGUE and also INTO THE WOODS.

Let us not forget about MAMMA MIA,(although I have tried, believe I have really tried) now the cast in this movie version of the stage show were hard pressed to string together a tune that was in tune, if you know what I mean. But, the movie still did well at the box office, but I think that had more to do with the musical content rather than any performance, after all not even Meryl Streep can muck up ABBA classics, can she? If we come Right up to date, or at least to last year, with LA LA LAND that was successful and won best score too, and then this year enter THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, not necessarily the best film in the world, well let’s face it people, it’s not the best film in the world is it! but its creating a real big stir with cinema audiences young and old, because of the musical content ie the songs, and now we are experiencing THE GREATEST SHOWMAN sing a long, and its given the film a new lease of life, audiences are flocking to see it and sing along with it, I suppose it is a bit like THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW phenomenon, where devotees turn up to screenings dressed up as their favorite characters to do the TIME WARP again and again and again. I don’t think I know enough about the musical to go into great detail about its history, but, I feel now that I unfairly dismissed the genre in the past, and will now try to make amends, and have set myself a task to re-visit movies such as CAMELOT, OKLAHOMA, HIGH SOCIETY and their like and maybe this time round I won’t hide from those pesky flying monkeys in THE WIZARD OF OZ, and also will not be so dismissive of the musical as a whole.

 

After all who cannot fail to be entertained by the likes of Tommy Steele in HALF A SIXPENCE, TOPOL in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, those charming kiddy winks in THE SOUND OF MUSIC, the Ompah Lumpahs in WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and the uncouth character Ben Rumson portrayed by Lee Marvin in PAINT YOUR WAGON. So, join me if you will as I go through a few brief biographies of the main composers, lyricists and conductors who were responsible for creating so many evergreen numbers that will live with us forever.

 

 

LERNER AND LOEWE.

Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, met in 1942 at the Lambs Club in New York City where, according to Loewe, he mistakenly took a wrong turn to the men’s room and walked past Lerner’s table. Having recognized him, he asked if Lerner wrote lyrics and Lerner confirmed he did. Lerner claimed to be the more dominant member of the partnership, which is something that is confirmed by many of their close friends, he would often say that he would throw out the first two melodies that Loewe would write to any song even if they were both perfect.
He said he always knew, with a little coaxing and pushing, Loewe was capable of much greater work, and one only has to listen to the Overture from, say, CAMELOT to appreciate Loewe’s gift and talent in creating melodic and rich sounding tunes. Loewe worked perfectly in tune with Lerner, who would agonize for weeks over a lyric. Unlike other collaborators Lerner would work with, Loewe was the most understanding of the time Lerner needed to create his lyrics and would never pressure him to complete the work quickly. Their last collaboration came with the 1974 movie THE LITTLE PRINCE, which received a mixed bag of reviews from the critics, but at the same time was hailed as as one of the team’s most intelligent scores. Regardless of their professional relationship, Lerner and Loewe were close friends and remained so until the end of their lives. On October 21, 1956, Lerner and Loewe appeared together as contestants on the panel quiz show WHATS MY LINE. Their final public appearance was in December 1985, when they received a Kennedy centre honour, which was awarded just six months before Lerner passed away.

HOW TO HANDLE A WOMAN.
FROM THE MUSICAL CAMELOT.
“How to handle a woman?
There’s a way,” said the wise old man,
“A way known by ev’ry woman
Since the whole rigmarole began.”
“Do I flatter her?” I begged him answer.
“Do I threaten or cajole or plead?
Do I brood or play the gay romancer?”
Said he, smiling: “No indeed.
How to handle a woman?
Mark me well, I will tell you, sir:
The way to handle a woman
Is to love her…simply love her…
Merely love her…love her…love her.”

 

RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN.

The names Rodgers and Hammerstein are synonymous with the big movie musicals that were produced in Hollywood during the 1950.s through to the 1960’s. Together they were responsible for creating some of the most popular musicals ever made.
Composer Richard Rodgers 1902-1979 and lyricist-dramatist Oscar Hammerstein 1895-1960, who together were an influential, innovative and successful American musical writing team. They created a string of popular musicals which were on Broadway during the 1940s and 1950s and are credited with beginning what is referred to as the GOLDEN AGE of the musical. No less than five of their Broadway shows, CAROUSEL, THE KING AND I, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, SOUTH PACIFIC and OKLAHOMA became successes, as was the little know television broadcast of CINDERELLA in 1957. Of the other four that the team produced on Broadway during their lifetimes, THE FLOWER DRUM SONG was well-received, none being an outright flop. Most of their shows have received frequent revivals around the world, both professional and amateur. In their career the duo received Thirty-four Tony Awards, fifteen Academy Awards, The Pulitzer Award and two Grammys. It is probably true to say that ROGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN were the most successful writing partnership in musical theatre, and many of today’s musicals have their roots in the writings of this prolific duo.

 

SHALL WE DANCE.
FROM THE KING AND I.

 

We’ve just been introduced
I do not know you well
But when the music started
Something drew me to your side

So many men and girls
Are in each others arms
It made me think we might be
Similarly occupied

Shall we dance?
On a bright cloud of music shall we fly?
Shall we dance?
Shall we then say, goodnight and mean goodbye

Oh perchance
When the last little star has left the sky
Shall we still be together?
With our arms around each other
And shall you be my new romance?

On the clear understanding
That this kind of thing can happen
Shall we dance?
Shall we dance?
Shall we dance?

Shall we dance?
On a bright cloud of music shall we fly?
Shall we dance?
Shall we then say, goodnight and mean goodbye?

Oh perchance
When the last little star has leave the sky
Shall we still be together?
With our arms around each other
And shall you be my new romance?

On the clear understanding
That this kind of thing can happen
Shall we dance?
Shall we dance?
Shall we dance?

 

 

BARTY

 

LIONEL BART.

Born into a Jewish family, Lionel Begletier was the youngest of seven children who were brought up in Stepney in the East End of London, His Father was a tailor. Lionel Bart as he was to become known as received no real formal musical education apart from a few violin lessons, but he soon became disinterested in these and his Mother very quickly literally threw out the violin he was practicing upon. However because of the young Lionel’s interest and aptitude for music his teacher declared that he was a genius and at the age of 16 he won a scholarship to St Martins school of art and began to become involved not just in music but in set decoration painting sets for plays etc. Whilst at the school he saw a notice advertising for song writers and it was this decision to make a career change that altered his life forever, it was during this period that he also decided to change his surname name to Bart, apparently this was inspired by a bus journey that took the young lyricist and composer past ST BARTHOLOMEWS church every day, the Church which was known by locals as St Bart’s attracted Lionel’s attention and he decided to become Lionel Bart.

Bart’s first foray into writing a musical came in 1958 when he came up with WALLY PONE OF SOHO, this was not that successful and although it did attract some attention it was not a runaway hit for Bart. It was at this time in his career that he wrote songs for a number of British rock and roll artists of the day, Marty Wilde, Billy Fury, Cliff Richard and Tommy Steele among them. Many of these such as LITTLE WHITE BULL, ROCK WITH THE CAVEMAN, LIVING DOLL etc becoming iconic and enduring favourites worldwide. The latter reaching number one in the hit parade of 1959 and staying there for 6 weeks. His first success in the world of musicals came in 1958/59 with FINGS AI’NT WOT THEY USED TO BE and after this he teamed up with composer Laurie Johnson to bring LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS TO London’s West End. It was also at this time that Bart began to develop more fully an idea he had for a musical which was based upon a classic tale written by Charles Dickens, OLIVER which Bart decided to set to music after seeing the David Lean film version of the story eventually came to the stage in the June of 1960, this was after numerous promoters and companies turned it down, resulting in Bart financing the production himself. Bart was convinced that the show would be a flop and apparently did not stay in the theatre on the first night instead taking himself off elsewhere with actress Barbara Windsor only to return at the end of the musical to receive no less than 16 curtain calls, and soon the show had advance sales of 30,000 in its first week. Based on the success of OLIVER Bart became much in demand and soon had two other musicals to his name in the form of MAGGIE MAY and BLITZ which although did not have the same appeal as OLIVER were still nonetheless lucrative ventures for the composer. It was also at this time that he wrote the title song for the Bond movie FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE as well as co-writing with and for Anthony Newley, it seemed that Bart was unstoppable and at the age of just 30, he was rumoured to be earning £16.00 an hour which in the 1960’s was more than impressive. Bart’s next musical TWANG (1965) was based on the story of Robin Hood but on this occasion it was not such a rosy tale for him, especially as to finance its production he sold off all the rights to OLIVER.

TWANG failed miserably and ran for less than a month, its disastrous opening night saw scenery and sets collapsing and “boos” and shouts of “GET OFF” coming from the audience. Bart estimated that the ill-fated TWANG lost him over a million pounds and also lost him the rights to his most successful venture OLIVER. In 1968, Columbia pictures produced a film version of the musical OLIVER, Directed by Carol Reed and starring the wonderful Ron Moody as Fagin, with Oliver Reed as Bill Sykes and Shani Wallis as Nancy, it also featured young actors Jack Wild as the artful dodger and the angel faced Mark Lester in the title role. The movie was a runaway success being nominated for 11 Academy Awards and winning in 6 categories including best original score, but this must have been a bittersweet success for Bart as he had relinquished all rights to do with the musical. In 1972 he became a bankrupt with debts of over £73.000. Bart had also began to drink heavily which resulted in him contracting diabetes, he did manage to win his battle with alcohol and drug addiction but had done irreparable damage to his liver and his career hit rock bottom, he did however still carry on working and in 1977 penned the musical LIONEL, but compared with his success from previous years it paled in comparison. Bart did however manage to return to the public eye when OLIVER was revitalised for the west end by Cameron Mitchell during the early to mid 1990‘s, Cameron who had secured the rights had written into the deal that some of the royalties would be paid to Bart. The lyricist took on a supervisory role for the comeback production and once again was his old flamboyant and larger than life self. He also penned HAPPY ENDINGS for a commercial that was run by a building society which reached number 65 in the UK charts and wrote numerous other jingle type compositions for advertisements on both radio and television. After OLIVER was revived it gave Bart more drive and he began to work on a number of projects that had for many years been gathering dust, i.e. QUASIMODO, which was based upon THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAMME. Lionel Bart died of cancer on April 3rd, 1999 at Hammersmith Hospital London aged 68.

REVIEWING THE SITUATION.
FROM OLIVER.

A man’s got a heart, hasn’t he?
Joking apart — hasn’t he?
And tho’ I’d be the first one to say that I wasn’t a saint…

I’m finding it hard to be really as black as they paint…

I’m reviewing the situation
Can a fellow be a villain all his life?
All the trials and tribulations!
Better settle down and get myself a wife.
And a wife would cook and sew for me,
And come for me, and go for me,
The fingers, she will wag at me.
The money she will take me.
A misery, she’ll make from me…

…I think I’d better thing it out again!

A wife you can keep, anyway
I’d rather sleep, anyway.
Left without anyone in the world,
And I’m starting from now
So “how to win friends and to influence people”
–So how?

I’m reviewing the situation,
I must quickly look up ev’ryone I know.
Titled people — with a station —
Who can help me make a real impressive show!
I will own a suite at Claridges,
And run a fleet of carriages,
And wave at all the duchesses
With friendliness, as much as is
Befitting of my new estate…

“Good morrow to you, magistrate!” Oh gawd!

…I think I’d better think it out again.

So where shall I go — somebody?
Who do I know? Nobody!
All my dearest companions
Have always been villains and thieves…
So at my time of life
I should start turning over new leaves…?

I’m reviewing the situation.
If you want to eat — you’ve got to earn a bob!
Is it such a humiliation
For a robber to perform an honest job?
So a job I’m getting, possibly,
I wonder who my boss’ll be?
I wonder if he’ll take to me…?
What bonuses he’l make to me…?
I’ll start at eight and finish late,
At normal rate, and all..but wait!

…I think I’d better think it out again.

What happens when I’m seventy?
Must come a time…seventy.
When you’re old, and it’s cold
And who cares if you live or you die,
Your one consolation’s the money
You may have put by…

I’m reviewing the situation.
I’m a bad ‘un and a bad ‘un I shall stay!
You’ll be seeing no transformation,
But it’s wrong to be a rogue in ev’ry way.

I don’t want nobody hurt for me,
Or made to do the dirt for me.
This rotten life is not for me.
It’s getting far too hot for me.
Don’t want no one to rob for me.
But who will find a job for me,
There is no in between for me
But who will change the scene for me?

…I think I’d better think it out again!

Hey!

 

ALAN MENKEN.

Born in NEW YORK on July 22nd, 1949, Alan Menken’s musical scores for many of the Disney animated features were said to revitalise the Disney magic for many both young and old. He was responsible for creating along with lyricist Howard Ashman, the haunting music for films such as THE LITTLE MERMAID and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. He and Ashman began work on ALADDIN but sadly Ashman passed away and Menken teamed up with Tim Rice to finish the project. Menken is not only known for his music in Disney animated movies, such as HERCULES and the Award-winning POCAHONTAS. He also worked on numerous Broadway shows including LITTLE SHOPPE OF HORRORS and provided the score for a number of motion pictures as a dramatic music composer in his own right. In recent years the composer has been working on adapting many of his scores for the Disney animated musicals for Broadway and West End performances and also rekindling interest in the music via Disney’s programme of converting classic animated features into live action movies. Hopefully this coming year ALADDIN, directed by Guy Ritchie will return to the big screen after the success of the movie version of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.

 

UNDER THE SEA
FROM THE LITTLE MERMAID.

Ariel, listen to me
The human world, it’s a mess
Life under the sea is better than anything they got up there

(sung)
The seaweed is always greener
In someone else’s lake
You dream about going up there
But that is a big mistake
Just look at the world around you
Right here on the ocean floor
Such wonderful things surround you
What more is you looking for?

Under the sea, under the sea
Darling its better down where its wetter
Take it from me
Up on the shore they work all day
Out in the sun they slave away
While we’re devoting full time to floating
Under the sea

Down here all the fish is happy
As after the waves they roll
The fish on the land ain’t happy
They sad cause they’re in the bowl
The fish in the bowl is lucky
They’re in for a worser fate
One day when the boss get hungry
Guess who goin’ be on the plate?

Wo-no, under the sea
Under the sea
Nobody beat us, fry us and eat us
In frickazee
We what the land folks loves to cook
Under the sea we off the hook
We’ve got no troubles, life is the bubbles

Under the sea (under the sea)
Under the sea (under the sea)
Since life is sweet here, we got the beat here
Naturally (naturally-ee-ee-ee)
Even the sturgeon and the ray
They get the urge and start to play
We’ve got the spirit, you’ve got to hear it
Under the sea

The lute play the flute
The carp play the harp
The plaice play the bass and they soundin’ sharp
The bass play the brass
The chub play the tub
The fluke is the duke of soul (yeah)
The ray, he can play the lings on the strings
The trout acting out
The blackfish he sings
The smelt and the sprat
They know where it’s at
And oh, that blowfish blow!

(instrumental)

Yeah, under the sea (under the sea)
Under the sea (under the sea)
When the sardine begin the beguine
It’s music to me (music is to me)
What do they got, a lot of sand?
We’ve got a hot crustacean band
Each little clam here know how to jam here
Under the sea
Each little slug here cutting a rug here
Under the sea
Each little snail here know how to wail here
That’s why it’s hotter under the water
Yeah, we’re in luck here down under the muck here
Under the sea

 

ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER.

Born in Kensington London on March 22nd, 1948, Andrew Lloyd Webber or Baron Lloyd Webber to give him his correct title, is probably the name that is discussed more than any other when talking about Musical theatre and in recent years movie adaptations of those shows. He has been the most successful composer in musical theatre many of his shows running on Broadway and London’s West End for more than a decade. College of music in London, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, CATS, EVITA, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR all titles that are now a part of Musical theatre history and iconic examples of the Musical. He came from a musical family, his Father was the director of the College of music in London, his Mother was a pianist and his Brother Julian is a renowned Cellist. He began early in life and was able to play, piano, violin and French Horn at the age of three, by his 6th Birthday Lloyd Webber was writing his own music. He began to study music in 1965 at the Royal College of Music. It was here that he began to become interested in musical theatre. At 17 he met Tim Rice and together they penned their first musical called, THE LIKES OF US, which sadly did not reach any stage at that time. They were then asked to write a pop cantata which was a religious piece that would end up becoming JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICLOUR DREAMCOAT. Then came the musical that most associate with both Lloyd Webber and Rice, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR. The rest as they say is history, many musicals followed and Lloyd Webber, is arguably the best loved composer in the history of musicals.

ALL I ASK OF YOU.
FROM THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.

RAOUL
No more talk
of darkness,
Forget these
wide-eyed fears.

I’m here,
nothing can harm you –
my words will
warm and calm you.

Let me be
your freedom,
let daylight
dry -your tears.
I’m here,
with you, beside you,
to guard you
and to guide you . . .

CHRISTINE
Say you love me
every
waking moment,
turn my head
with talk of summertime . . .

Say you need me
with you,
now and always . . .
promise me that all
you say is true –
that’s all I ask
of you . . .

RAOUL
Let me be
your shelter,
let me
be your light.
You’re safe:
No-one will find you
your fears are
far behind you . . .

CHRISTINE
All I want
is freedom,
a world with
no more night . . .
and you
always beside me
to hold me
and to hide me . . .

RAOUL
Then say you’ll share with
me one
love, one lifetime . . .
Iet me lead you
from your solitude . . .

Say you need me
with you
here, beside you . . .
anywhere you go,
let me go too –
Christine,
that’s all I ask
of you . . .

CHRISTINE
Say you’ll share with
me one
love, one lifetime . . .
say the word
and I will follow you . . .

BOTH
Share each day with
me, each
night, each morning . . .

CHRISTINE
Say you love me . . .

RAOUL
You know I do . . .

BOTH
Love me –
that’s all I ask
of you . . .

 

Anywhere you go
let me go too . . .
Love me –
that’s all I ask
of you . .

 

 

STEPHEN SONDHEIM.

American composer and lyricist, Stephen Sondheim was born in New York City on March 22nd,1930. Influenced heavily by Oscar Hammerstein, of Rodgers and Hammerstein, who acted as a mentor to Sondheim. The composers contributions to both GYPSY and WEST SIDE STORY in the 1950’s brought recognition to the young Sondheim, he became much sought after and created witty and complex music and lyrics for productions such as A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, SWEENY TODD and INTO THE WOODS.

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COMEDY TONIGHT.
FROM A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM.

 

Something familiar,
Something peculiar,
Something for everyone:
A comedy tonight!

Something appealing,
Something appalling,
Something for everyone:
A comedy tonight!

Nothing with kings, nothing with crowns;
Bring on the lovers, liars and clowns!

Old situations,
New complications,
Nothing portentous or polite;
Tragedy tomorrow,
Comedy tonight!

Something convulsive,
Something repulsive,
Something for everyone:
A comedy tonight!

Something aesthetic,
Something frenetic,
Something for everyone:
A comedy tonight!

Nothing with gods, nothing with fate;
Weighty affairs will just have to wait!

Nothing that’s formal,
Nothing that’s normal,
No recitations to recite;
Open up the curtain:
Comedy Tonight!

Something erratic,
Something dramatic,
Something for everyone:
A comedy tonight!

Frenzy and frolic,
Strictly symbolic,
Something for everyone:
A comedy tonight!

Something familiar,
Something peculiar,
Something for everybody:
Comedy tonight!
Something that’s gaudy,
Something that’s bawdy–

Something for everybawdy!

Comedy tonight!

Nothing that’s grim.

Nothing that’s Greek.

She plays Medea later this week.

Stunning surprises!
Cunning disguises!
Hundreds of actors out of sight!

Pantaloons and tunics!
Courtesans and eunuchs!
Funerals and chases!
Baritones and basses!
Panderers!
Philanderers!
Cupidity!
Timidity!
Mistakes!
Fakes!
Rhymes!
Crimes!
Tumblers!
Grumblers!
Bumblers!
Fumblers!

SH

 

CLAUDE-MICHEL SCHONBERG.

French composer Claude-Michel Schonberg was the Maestro behind the infectious and haunting music for the musical Les Miserables. The idea was presented to the composer by young lyricist Alain Boublil who had an idea to adapt Victor Hugo’s classic novel into a musical. After much work and knocking on doors, the musical opened in September 1980 at the Palais des Sports in Paris. In, 1982, the English producer Cameron Mackintosh decided that he would like to bring the musical to London and began work on an English language version, with lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. The first English production, produced by Mackintosh and directed by Trevor Nunn, opened on October 28, 1985, in the Barbican Theatre in London before moving first to the Palace Theatre and later to the Queen’s Theatre. It is one of the best loved musicals worldwide and continues its run to packed houses to this day in London. The Broadway production opened on March 12, 1987 and was nominated for twelve Tony Awards, winning eight, including Best Musical and Best Original Score, and ran until 2003. It is still the third longest-running Broadway show in history. Shonberg and Boublil are also behind the popular musical MISS SAIGON.

 
BRING HIM HOME.
FROM LES MISERABLES.

God on high
Hear my prayer
In my need
You have always been there

He is young
He’s afraid
Let him rest
Heaven blessed.
Bring him home
Bring him home
Bring him home.

He’s like the son I might have known
If God had granted me a son.
The summers die
One by one
How soon they fly
On and on
And I am old
And will be gone.

Bring him peace
Bring him joy
He is young
He is only a boy

You can take
You can give
Let him be
Let him live
If I die, let me die
Let him live
Bring him home
Bring him home
Bring him home.

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Of course there are many composers and lyricists that deserve more than a fleeting mention, these include, ELTON JOHN, IRVING BERLIN, JOHN KANDER, STEPHEN SCHWARTZ, JEROME KERN, CY COLEMAN, GEORGE GERSHWIN, JERRY BROCK, SHELDON HARNICK, RICHARD M SHERMAN, ROBERT SHERMAN, JUSTIN HURWITZ, JULIE SYNE etc etc etc……..

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RENATO CASARO.

 

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If you like I were lucky enough to be collecting film music during the early 1960,s and through to the present day, I hope that you would have also noticed the wonderfully detailed and colourful art work that accompanied some of the LP record releases, I was particularly fond of the Italian soundtrack releases, especially western scores that were released on the CAM label. CAM were one of the worlds foremost and active soundtrack labels. Their releases were great for collectors as they often included two soundtracks on one record.

CD ART                                       CAM LP ART.

One of the first LPs I got on the CAM label was A MAN A HORSE AND A GUN, the music was by Stelvio Cipriani and on the flip side we had THE BELLE STARR STORY music by French composer Charles Dumont. But, I have to say here and now it was not either of the composers or indeed my knowledge of the music that sold the soundtrack to me, it was the striking art work, as I stood in The Arts Theatre Club Foyer, talking to Michael Jones. I just could not take my eyes off the cover and decided to buy it there and then, of course the score is iconic, and is filled with everything good bad and ugly from the Italian western school of film music, it remains still a treasured possession and one I would never part with.

 

The same can be said for SENTENZA DI MORTE, again it was the art work for the LP which convinced me I have to own this, and of course later the love of the music just happened. These are just two examples of some of the mesmerising and finely crafted art work that adorns so many Italian soundtrack releases. These images are the work of the Maestro of the Movie Poster world Renato Casaro. This talented artist has provided the art work on so many movie posters and also in turn these images have been used on soundtrack releases. It was not only Italian movies that the artist worked his magic for, he also worked on numerous films in Europe, Gt. Britain and America, his style and vivid artistry being instantly recognisable after a while.

 

He established himself as the most sought-after artist for the cinema and became firm friends with Dino De Laurentis, Sergio Leone and Bernardo Bertolucci to name but a few. To list all of his work I think would be almost impossible but say this the artist has kept a comprehensive library of his art which I am told is unusual. Born in Treviso which is located in Northern Italy in 1935, the artist came from a family who in his own words were not particularly skilled in that direction. His passion for the cinema manifested it self when he was very young, Renato often attending the cinema every day, and his love for the images on screen soon spread to the posters that were displayed at the picture houses advertising the film being shown or advertising up and coming attractions. He would often go to the cinema and ask for the posters, taking them home to study them and then eventually attempting to paint copies of them.


His study of the posters and his understanding of how certain artists worked soon convinced Renato that this is what he wanted to do as a career. He also began to recognise the work of certain artists, Angelo Cesselon for example, but the young artist was taken more with the style of Norman Rockwell, who he regarded as the Maestro. Because there was no art college or any way of enrolling in a course to allow him to learn the skills he knew that he would require, Renato decided that he had to leave Treviso and move to Rome. Before this however, he worked for an advertising agency who promoted food drink and various other commodities, such as wine, his first major advertising illustration being for PANATONNE CAKE.

He then managed to convince a cinema to let him work for them painting images of movies that they were showing on a wall for all to see. He took photographs of these and decided at 20 years of age he had to go to the Italian capital, he showed his work to STUDIO FAVALLI who worked for numerous film companies, and they liked what they saw and asked Renato to go for an interview, the interview went well and it secured him a position on the team of Augusto Favalli. Because the team at FAVALLI was small, Renato soon became noticed for his work and it was not long before he was working steadily and learning various techniques from the artist Renato Frantini.

 

It was also at this time that he got to meet his idols such as Angelo Casselon and from there on began to understand the polished and creative flair that they had and incorporating certain techniques into his own work. Augusto Favalli was also the owner of LUX films in Rome so at times would hire a major artist to create a poster for a production, thus Renato would have contact with these and all the time be learning. One of the posters Renato worked on whilst at Favalli studios was ATTILA which was a Sophia Loren movie, after a year at the studio he was told that he should become a freelance artist and work independently, he prepared a portfolio of his work and presented it to various movie distributors, his work was met with much enthusiasm, he was like a breath of fresh air in the industry as many of the artists who worked on movie posters had been doing this for many years, and as the styles and tastes of cinema began to change distributors saw that they needed a fresh approach to keep the public interested. He soon established himself as a trusted and fast worker, in fact many of his clients called him RENATO FA PRESTO which loosely translated means, DOES QUICKLY.

 

 

He soon established his own studio and worked for small distributors on independent movies and B films rather than concentrating on trying to become involved on major movies, it was at this time also that he began to perfect his style because the smaller distributors were happy to let him be creative and experiment.

 

 

big_gundown_poster

At the age of 21 he was called up into the Italian Military but was fortunate enough to be assigned to creating posters that promoted the forces, so whilst in the army he still carried on perfecting his craft, at times working on Military posters by day and in the evenings painting film posters. After his military service he began to work again creating art for films and was commissioned to work on the poster for the Italian release of THE MAGNIFICENT 7.

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In 1966 Renato began to work for Dino Di Laurentis, the first commission being for THE BIBLE, after this he worked on projects such as WATERLOO, CONAN THE BARBARIAN, FLASH GORDON and the ill-fated DUNE.

 

The artist went from strength to strength working on major movies such as Leones THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, and FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, his art work has adorned so many posters for films such as, OCTOPUSSY, NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN, RED SONJA, TOTAL RECALL, THE BIG GUNDOWN and a plethora of Italian made westerns, Giallo movies, Horror films and Romances. Renato Casaro is unique and highly innovative, his art is striking and colourful and has an almost hypnotic affect upon anyone who studies the images, each time you look you find something that maybe was not there the first time you looked, it is so detailed and finely tuned.

 

 

Look in your collection of Italian soundtracks and find the signature, I bet you its his.

 

signatur-casaro

“A STEPPE IS A STEPPE”. an article by composer PAUL CHIHARA.

Commissioned and originally published by the Orel Foundation, dedicated to the preservation of the music of the Holocaust, condemned by the Nazis as “degenerate.”

Reprinted with the permission of the Author, Composer Paul Chihara.

“A Steppe is a Steppe”:
How Hitler Helped to Create Hollywood Music
By Paul Chihara

PAULA

Most critics and historians of film music consider Max Steiner’s soundtrack for King Kong to have been the first great Hollywood film score. The movie was released in 1933, the same year in which Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. Thanks to one of the many ironies of history, politics and art, the “Golden Age” of film music was almost exactly coextensive with the sordid human tragedy known as the Third Reich (1933-1945). During those years, the fledgling movie industry in Hollywood attracted the genius of Old-World musicians from Vienna, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Budapest and elsewhere – composers at the height of their creative powers, versed in the classical and romantic musical tradition – to participate in this new form of mass entertainment. They were neither students nor pioneers, but rather established, active European composers, among the best of their generation. And they created what many consider to be the finest scores ever written for the film industry.

steiner
MAX STEINER.

 
In addition to Steiner, this early group of émigré composers included Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Dimitri Tiomkin and Miklós Rózsa. Born and educated in Central and Eastern Europe, they were already prominent musicians, eminently successful in the world of classical music and opera. All of them escaped the Holocaust – several just barely – and made their way, often precariously, to a new world and a new industry. They brought with them the music of their old world, just as that world was beginning to destroy itself.

King Kong (1933) 13
KING KONG 1933.

 

Both Korngold and his friend Steiner were considered Wunderkinder in early twentieth-century Vienna: Korngold was so designated by Mahler, and Steiner by Richard Strauss, who was his godfather. Steiner studied piano with Brahms, and Korngold studied composition with Alexander Zemlinsky.

NEGATIV_Korngold am Klavier, ca. 1940
ERICH WOLFGANG KORNGOLD.

 

Dimitri Tiomkin studied composition at the St. Petersburg Conservatory with Alexander Glazunov, who also taught Prokofiev and Shostakovich. And perhaps the most significant influence on the music of the new industry in Hollywood was a composer who left Berlin just as Hitler was coming to power and who never wrote a complete film score, but who immigrated to Los Angeles and taught at UCLA: Arnold Schoenberg. Without his teaching and influence on such composers as Bernard Herrmann, David Raksin, Alfred Newman and Leonard Rosenman the music of film noir would have developed very differently than it did. It would never have become a successful marriage of expressionism with jazz – arguably the most original and profound of musical styles to emerge from Hollywood films.

arnold-schoenberg-4
Arnold Schoenberg

Korngold made no attempt to make his score for Robin Hood–still considered by many to be the greatest film score ever–sound particularly English. Other than a passing reference to “Sumer is icumen in,” there are no British folk tunes in the score, no parallel progressions of chords in first inversion, no kitsch diaphanous, modal string textures, no pipes or viols or simple pastoral percussion. What we hear is not pastoral chamber music but a full symphony orchestra in all its glory. The voluptuous score is closer to the romantic world of Der Rosenkavalier than to Sherwood Forest. (What a blessing for a young Japanese-American like myself, growing up in a relocation camp during the Second World War, in Minidoka, Idaho, and later in Seattle–far from the opera houses or concert halls of Vienna or of New York–to hear such magical music, married to equally magical images. That’s entertainment – and a lot more!)


In 1920, at the age of 23, Erich Korngold had composed a successful opera, Die tote Stadt (The Dead City), which became a worldwide success, with performances throughout Germany as well as at the Staatsoper in Vienna and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. This was among the works banned by the Nazis after they came to power in 1933. Korngold first came to Los Angeles in 1934, at the invitation of director Max Reinhardt, also a Viennese Jew, to adapt Mendelssohn’s music from A Midsummer Night’s Dream for a film version of the Shakespeare play, with Mickey Rooney as Puck and choreography by Bronislava Nijinska. He then returned to Vienna, where he was conducting opera and teaching at the State Academy when, in 1938, Warner Brothers invited him back to Hollywood to score the music for a lavish, swashbuckling movie, The Adventures of Robin Hood, starring Errol Flynn.

 

KORNGOLD.                                THE SEA HAWK.

 
Shortly thereafter, the Anschluss occurred that linked Germany and Austria together–the first major step in Hitler’s master plan to create the New World Order. Korngold was lucky to have escaped when he did. Robin Hood won him an Academy Award for Best Original Score, and Korngold said later that this movie had saved his life. It was appropriate that his first international success as a movie composer should have been in his own romantic operatic style of composition, an “opera without singing,” as he himself described his scores. (This is an approach to film scoring that was mastered two generations later by John Williams, another genius trained in classical music–and in his case also jazz–who studied at UCLA and at Juilliard.)

RICHARD STRAUSS.                                   MAHLER.

 

Korngold himself commented on his style of film composition in these wonderful words, which for me, as a composer of film and concert music, are an expression of honest and modest integrity: “Never have I differentiated between my music for the films and that for the operas and concert pieces. Just as I do for the operatic stage, I try to give the motion pictures dramatically melodious music, sonic development, and variation of the themes.”

WARNER
In all, Korngold would compose eighteen film scores, all of them excellent, as well as adaptations of music by Mendelssohn and Wagner. Although the number of his movies is modest in comparison with that of others of his generation and background, those relatively few scores were hugely influential and left an indelible impression on all the film composers who followed him.

max-steiner
Korngold’s friend and fellow Austrian Jew Max Steiner was working in London in 1914 when the First World War broke out. He was declared an enemy alien by the British government but was allowed to leave for New York. He worked on Broadway for eleven years, with George Gershwin, Jerome Kern and Victor Herbert, among others, and moved to Hollywood in 1929, soon to be joined by his friend Korngold. Among the movies that Steiner scored are many of the most beloved masterpieces of cinema: Gone With the Wind, King Kong, Casablanca, The Gay Divorcee (starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers), Now, Voyager, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The Searchers. The number of his scores is staggering (300 films are credited to him, although he was supported by a staff of excellent composers and orchestrators), and the great variety of musical genres and styles is equally impressive.

 

Perhaps the most astonishing element in his work is its consistently high quality, whether in fantasy, musicals, adventure, romance, historical drama or comedy–there was nothing he could not do, and his work was characterized by outstanding technique, panache and emotional lyricism.
He was an old-school composer who wrote from the heart with little concern for academic theory or adventurism. The same could be said of Korngold and for almost all the other expatriate composers who migrated to Hollywood from Western Europe.
When complimented on having helped to create Hollywood music, Steiner replied, “Nonsense. The idea originated with Richard Wagner. Listen to the incidental scoring behind the recitatives in his operas. If Wagner had lived in this century, he would have been the Number One film composer.”


Richard Wagner, despite his well-known and often-declared anti-Semitism, remained Steiner’s musical model from King Kong to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, from Casablanca to The Searchers. How ironic that the very people who were hounded, defiled and persecuted mercilessly by the Nazis would remain steadfastly loyal to Germany’s musical traditions! When some of these expatriate composers returned to their native countries after the war, they discovered to their dismay that the shell-shocked survivors were no longer receptive to the romantic vocabulary of the nineteenth century, which they and other Hollywood composers still employed. The great musical tradition they had nurtured during the darkest years of Fascism had been replaced by a contemporary musical language that scorned the music of their “old-fashioned” German predecessors. Korngold, among many others, felt rejected and ignored by his own countrymen and former colleagues.

 


Franz Waxman, born in Silesia (now Poland) in 1906, began his film compositional career in Germany (orchestrating the classic film The Blue Angel (1930), starring Marlene Dietrich) and after 1933 in France with Friz Lang. He arrived in Hollywood in 1935, and composed the score for what what would become a cult classic Bride of Frankenstein, his first American film. Shortly thereafter he began his association with Alfred Hitchcock with haunting scores for four immortal films (Rebecca, Suspicion, The Paradine Case, and Rear Window). Perhaps his greatest score is also his greatest film A Place in the Sun (1951), starring Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Cliff. This won an Oscar, as did his previous score for the legendary Sunset Boulevard (1950). Like other Jewish composers arriving in Hollywood, Waxman had a sublime lyric gift: he was perhaps one of the greatest melodists of them all.

FRANZ WAXMAN(right) with STRAVINSKY.

Another artist from Central Europe was the brilliant pianist, folklorist and composer Miklós Rózsa, destined to become one of Hollywood’s most beloved and successful composers and the winner of three Oscars. He was born to Jewish parents in Budapest, converted to Lutheranism and studied music at Leipzig. But in 1934, as the Nazis’ power was increasing, he moved to Paris, and five years later he came to Hollywood with the famous director Alexander Korda, another Hungarian Jew, to work on The Thief of Bagdad. His score for Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound is a classic–the ever-popular version of it as a piano concerto appears frequently on pops concerts–and so is his music for the biblical epic Ben Hur and the uplifting Christian dramas Quo Vadis and King of Kings, which are accompanied by appropriately religious music.

 

Rozsa’s passion for the folk music of his native Hungary colors his melodies, his orchestration and the drama of his music, which is closer to the world of early Bartók than to that of Richard Strauss. His music is different from the German romanticism of Korngold and Steiner, closer to the harmonic world of German Expressionism in film noir, as, for instance, in his influential scores for Double Indemnity, Lost Weekend and The Killers, whose melody was later used as the main theme for the popular TV show Dragnet.

HERRMANN.                                   RAKSIN.

Though Rozsa was not fond of Schoenberg’s twelve-tone system of composition, he excelled in writing film noir scores, as did Schoenberg’s principal Hollywood students Bernard Herrmann (Psycho, Vertigo) and David Raksin (Laura, The Bad and the Beautiful). The three of them were among the principal creators of the music for film noir, which remains one of Hollywood’s unique achievements.

Miklós_Rózsa_Portrait

 

 
Is there anything more American than the cowboy? And is not the Western the quintessential movie form of the rugged individual that we Americans honour as an idealized role model, and whose music we most associate with such paragons of male Americana as John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Gregory Peck, Jimmy Stewart, Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster? But the composer most often credited with having created the musical style for the American western is Dimitri Tiomkin, who was born in the Ukraine to a scholarly and musical Jewish family. He was educated in St. Petersburg and was recognized as an accomplished pianist and composer even before his graduation. More than any other composer, Tiomkin created the grand themes so often associated with the Big Sky of the American West–as with the steppes of Central Asia. He once said, comparing the vast expanses of Asiatic Russia to the American West: “A steppe is a steppe.”

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He composed the memorable scores for High Noon, Giant, Rio Bravo, Gunfight at the OK Corral, Friendly Persuasion and Duel in the Sun, among many other glorious Western soundtracks.

 

 

In his orchestration, melodic style, harmony, and grandeur we hear echoes of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev and Shostakovich, although one must also acknowledge the significant influence of Aaron Copland, whose lyric grace and impressionistic loneliness, learned in Paris from Nadia Boulanger, also became the voice of the American Southwest. Tiomkin left Russia shortly after the Revolution, traveling to Berlin and then Paris (1922-1925) before immigrating to New York (1929) and eventually moving to Hollywood, where he scored his first major triumph, Alice in Wonderland, in the fateful year 1933. The theme of his most famous film song, “Do Not Forsake Me,” from High Noon, has been described by several Russian film historians and Jewish music scholars (primarily Jack Gottlieb in his authoritative


Funny, It Doesn’t Sound Jewish) as an adaptation of a Yiddish song, “Dem milners trern,” by the Ukrainian entertainer Mark Warshavsky.
Arnold Schoenberg, who, more than any other composer, changed the course of twentieth-century music, predicted that his twelve-tone system would “ensure the supremacy of German music for the next hundred years.” And indeed, after the war his system and the music of his famous disciples Berg and Webern inspired the new music of Western Europe. To the younger generation of German composers, Korngold, Rozsa and other film composers had become unpleasant reminders of the romantic music of the ‘thirties and ‘forties that they now associated with the Nazi era.
Schoenberg himself made several forays into film composition: his haunting concert piece Begleitungmusik zu einer Lichtspielszene (Accompaniment for a Film Scene) and his unfinished sketches for the Paramount adventure film Souls at Sea (1937) and the Pearl Buck feature The Good Earth. He wrote: “I have at last learned the lesson that has been forced upon me during this year [1933], and I shall not ever forget it. It is that I am not a German, not a European, indeed perhaps scarcely a human being (at least the Europeans prefer the worst of their race to me) but I am a Jew.”

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Paul Chihara is a Professor of Music at UCLA and the Chair of Visual Media (film music). He received his doctorate from Cornell University and studied with the renowned pedagogue Nadia Boulanger in Paris, Ernst Pepping in Berlin, and with Gunther Schuller at Tanglewood. He has received many commissions from major symphony orchestras and won numerous awards, including Composer of the Year by the Classical Recording Foundation in New York in 2008. He has composed more than 100 motion picture and television scores.

PAUL16
The Schoenberg Family has recently given Mr Chihara the sketches for Arnold Schoenberg’s unfinished film score The Good Earth, with permission to examine the sketches and decide if it might be possible “to create a film composition based on those sketches” and, if so, to proceed.
Article revised: October 19, 2011.

 

 
Re printed with kind permission of the Author. MMI March 23rd 2018.

TALKING TO THE COLLECTOR.

Mikael Carlsson. of Movie Score Media.

mikael

 

Firstly. why film music? And when did first become aware of music in movies?

 

I became addicted to film scores in the late 80s when a good friend introduced me to the many brilliant scores of that era, primarily works by Williams and Goldsmith. Together, we started to collect. I remember going to the good old soundtrack store on 58 Dean Street in London, bringing home a dozen Horner LPs, while my friend bought an equally impressive amount of Silvestri’s… In fact, though, my father had already played his Close Encounters soundtrack for me many times before this, but it was only at the age of 15-16 I got really hooked. Before that, I had been interested mostly in classical music, exploring a lot of different composers. When I began to take serious notice of the music of John Williams, I realized his music had all the elements I was usually looking for in classical music: emotions, drama, melody, interesting harmony, colourful orchestrations.

 

 

What was your first record purchase if it was not a soundtrack what was the first film music you went out and paid for?

The first soundtrack I bought myself was the Cocoon LP, and shortly thereafter came Willow. The first film music CD I bought was John Williams compilation ’Pops in Space’.

 

Before the arrival of cds how many soundtracks did you have in your collection on vinyl?

Oh. I really don’t know, maybe a couple of hundreds? Is that even important? [laughs]

 

 

pops

 

What was your most expensive soundtrack purchase ?

I have to say that this is a question I can’t answer because I don’t keep track of stuff like that. I do have a lot of rare soundtracks, but this is mostly because of gifts and promos sent to me in my role as a film music journalist (1993-2008) and soundtrack record producer (2006- ). Although I have thousands and thousands of soundtrack CDs, I would not consider myself an active collector anymore.

 

Do you still buy lp records and which do you prefer.lp.cd or download?

I never buy vinyl and only on rare occasions do I buy CDs. I have transitioned into the digital era and is still digitizing and coordinating a huge digital library of film scores for both my own professional use and for my enjoyment.

Is there anything that you are looking for that maybe you have not been able to find.

Well, this question can be answered both from a label owners’ and a film music fan’s perspective. I know that I belong to a minority, but personally I am not a huge fan of the dozens of different limited, expanded, complete, definitive, etcetera, versions that exist of many of the big film scores we all love. I tend to go back to the original album cuts that Williams and Goldsmith created, and still find them to be the most rewarding musically. Some scores – in fact most of those written by the two composers I just mentioned – are so rich that they deserve a more generous presentation than the original LPs could offer, but in general I do think that the fourth album version of the same score is craziness. I love to spend my time discovering new works and new composers instead.

What composer would you say dominates your collection?

 

I do have a huge lot of Williams, Goldsmith, Horner, Silvestri, Broughton, Chris Young… and many others.

 

What is your opinion of song scores ?
That’s a strange expression. Do you mean musicals? Or soundtrack albums that are song compilations? Well… I am not interested.

 

What is your opinion of the state of film music in recent years. compared to the 40.s 50.s 60.s and 70s?

The quality of film music in general is very high, but I think that there is a conformity and lack of inventiveness in a lot of mainstream scores – but there are so many exceptions from that rule too. We tend to be very negative and bemoan the current state of film music – but in fact, this is nothing new. Like any art form, or genre, there is only a small fraction of what is put out that is really noteworthy, that is original and unique. Then there is a pretty large pile of stuff that is functional and can be a great experience – but it won’t last in your memory for long. Then there is an even bigger amount of content that simply is completely uninteresting. There is also a lot of talk about the lack of melody in today’s film scores in general – and while I agree to a certain extent, in my book the lack of interesting harmony is an even bigger consideration. The predictable harmonic formula for a lot of mainstream film scores is tiresome. That’s why composers like Thomas Newman – a genius when it comes to nearly bi-tonal ideas and a sense of harmonic ambivalence – are always refreshing. And look at John Williams: still, at the age of 86, he writes harmonies that are complex and interesting, even though the melodies themselves are easy to hum. I love that!

 

How do you store your cds ?

In boxes.

 

 

If you were asked by a soundtrack label to choose ten soundtracks to be released for first time or re-released in a complete version what would be on your list?

 

Ha ha. I don’t think this question is for me running a soundtrack label myself. But one of those scores that were on my list was Back to Gaya by Michael Kamen…

gaya

 

 

 

BEAR McCREARY.

 

Composer Bear McCreary is known mainly for his work on popular TV series such as the re boot of BATTLESTAR GALLACTICA, OUTLANDER and of course THE WALKING DEAD. His music is innovative and original with the composer often fusing electronic elements with that of a more conventional symphonic line up to fashion and create surprising and positive results. His music for the show THE WALKING DEAD has become an important and highly integral component of the long running series, and it is true to say that THE WALKING DEAD without the music of McCreary would definitely not be the same. Right from the start, the score begins to conjure up an atmosphere and mood that is to say the least unsettling, as soon as one hears those opening bars of the central theme, a sense of tension, danger and chaos, begins to manifest itself. McCreary’s driving and mesmerising strings drawing the viewer into an uncertain and foreboding world filled with walkers and other even more virulent individuals who delight in causing pain and distress. The main titles theme actually begins to play before any titles appear on screen, so McCreary’s repeating sinewy motif for strings announces that an episode is about to start, thus the viewer is hooked even before any images appear.

 


Given the gory and violent subject matter of THE WALKING DEAD one would not think that the composer would not have any time for romantic or soft toned themes, but there is within the scores for the series a number of haunting and beautiful tone poems, these although few and far between certainly make their presence felt at key points within the series, at times the composer utilising a softer approach to underline a moment of violence, so that when it happens it is even more shocking and impacting upon watching audiences, simply because subconsciously they are not expecting it, the music has not pre-warned them, but just the opposite has lulled them into a false sense of security. The less atonal action cues are also used to great effect within the series to highlight the desperation and the isolation of certain characters, as in the melancholy infused cue, SOPHIA, which although superbly rich and lush is also tinged with traces of apprehension and nervous tension.

 

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McCreary’s music is superbly orchestrated throughout the series, sometimes the composer introducing instruments or sounds that would not ordinarily be combined in conventional scoring, but when he merges them they seem to fuse with consummate ease. The composer’s musical talent and prowess shines through on each outing, with both symphonic and electronic elements intertwining to create powerful and memorable musical statements and moments, which not only underline, punctuate and support the action, drama and desperation, but also can stand alone away from the images and scenarios as just music to be listened to.

 

There are also several scenes and sequences within the series that are un-scored, where there is no music, and this too is a sign of a talented composer. Knowing when not to swamp a scene in music is just as important as supporting it with a score, thus allowing the images, action or dialogue to create the drama and impact. McCreary, is not only talented and innovative, but is a composer that for me constantly experiments with sounds and instrumentation, whilst at the same time re-invents his style and sound, which means he remains fresh and original.

 

 

Bear McCreary, was born in Fort Lauderdale Florida, on February 17th, 1979. His Mother Laura Kalpakian, is an accomplished author and his Father Jay McCreary, is a professor based at the University of Hawaii. The composers Brother Brendan is also involved in music and they often collaborate, and in the early days Bear often directed and produced videos of Brendan’s band Young Beautiful in a Hurry. Bear graduated from Bellingham High School in 1997, and then went on to study music at Thornton School of Music and The University of Southern California, gaining a degree in composition and recording arts. He is a classically trained pianist and taught himself to play other instruments such as the Accordion. McCreary studied under the iconic film music composer Elmer Bernstein, and at times one can hear certain nuances and phrases that evoke the great composers style and works. It was McCreary who worked with Bernstein on the re-construction and reworking of the orchestration for the 1963 film score KINGS OF THE SUN, the fruits of their labours allowing the full score to be released on a recording for the first time in forty years, much to the delight of hundreds of devoted Bernstein fans.

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In 2003 the composer worked under the guidance of composer Richard Gibbs on the reboot of BATTLESTAR GALLATICA for TV, the three hour mini series acted as a pilot for a planned series and when the show was selected for screening composer Gibbs found that he could not dedicate his full attention to scoring it, it was at this point that McCreary was asked to become the composer on the series. McCreary stayed with the series for six years scoring over 70 episodes, his music is featured on six soundtrack albums that were released by LA LA LAND records, which have received much critical acclaim and are held in high regard by fans of the composer and series, in fact the soundtracks for seasons 2 and 3 of the series attained the title of top selling soundtracks in Amazons top 30 music sales on their first days of release. The composer also provided the score for CAPRICA, a prequel spin off from the Battlestar Gallactica series.

McCreary, has worked on numerous TV series, these include THE CAPE, AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. and HUMAN TARGET, the latter going down in history for having the largest orchestra ever utilised for a television score, and it was for his work on this series that garnered the composer his first Emmy nomination, however when the series was aired new in 2010 the producers did not ask him to return as composer. It was also in 2010 that the composer made his feature film score debut on STEP UP 3D, since then he has scored movies such as KNIGHTS OF BADDASSOM, THE BOY, COLOSSAL, REBEL IN THE RYE, EVERLY, 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE and HAPPY DEATH DAY, as well as working on a handful of direct to video/DVD features which include, WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END, REST STOP and REST STOP: DON’T LOOK BACK.

 

His most recent movie scoring assignment is THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX which contains an epic sounding score for full orchestra. Whichever way you look at it, the music of Bear McCreary has made an impact upon the world of TV and Cinema, whether it be via his threatening and uneasy themes for THE WALKING DEAD or his powerful music for THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX or indeed his Barry-esque, poignant and melodic work on REBEL IN THE RYE, McCreary is HEAR to stay. Which is something I am rather pleased about.

 

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