This interview has been a while coming to publication,the reason for this is because the tape which it was recorded on was lost,but thankfully after some years i came across it in a box of other little treasures, That I had obviously place in a safe hiding hole and then promptly forgot where I put them. The story behind the interview is as follows, a while ago i reviewed some wonderful compilations that had been issued on MONSTROUS MOVIE MUSIC and I was so knocked out by the quality of the re-recordings and the actual music I was hearing that I faxed the company,(yes faxed-this was before the internet). David Schecter of MMM got back to me straight away and was even instrumental in getting the reviews I had written published in a magazine that was doing the rounds at the time(yes a proper magazine) . Anyway I was amazed to hear that Irvin Gertz was still alive and well, so I asked david how about an interview, sure he said send me the questions, which I did and a few weeks later a cassette tape popped through the letter box, as i have explained this was promptly lost by yours truly, and when i found it I was happy and sad because the composer had in the mean time passed away, and also the tape had been damaged by damp I suspect, so what follows is all that is left of the interview,nevertheless its an interesting few paragraphs and also a little bit of film music history. Thanks David Schecter, thanks Mr Gertz,R.I.P….JM.
JM You began scoring motion pictures at Columbia Films in 1941, was writing music for film something that you set out to do, or was it something that happened as your career progressed ?
I had always wanted to compose music, but particularly was interested in writing for the cinema. This was something I had always had in mind, during my teens I attended the Providence college of music which was a non academic school, I studied privately there in all aspects of composition, and also took up training in orchestration with Walter Piston which was in Boston, later when I was actually composing for movies in Hollywood I continued to study with Mario Castelnuvio .
Where did the idea come from to utilize the electric violin in the score for THE ALLIGATOR PEOPLE.
I had first used the electric violin in THE DEADLY MANTIS which was a movie produced by Universal Pictures, I thought that the instruments range and versatility was wonderful and the sound created was so distinctive, especially when in the hands of a seasoned and talented performer. The that we got from the instrument was perfect and was what I had wanted for both of the pictures.
JM How long did it take you to score THE ALLIGATOR PEOPLE,
IG. It took me 1 week to compose and orchestrate, I work quickly, the orchestra I used consisted of around 36 musicians, which was quite large for a film of this type. This was normally how much time I was allotted per film.
When scoring a picture, how early on in the proceedings do you like to become involved ?
IG. I always prefer to see the movie, not interested in the script etc, I like to score what I see on the screen.
THE MONOLITH MONSTERS and IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE, were movies that you were involved with, were these all original scores with music by yourself, or did the studio utilize other composers music from the library, which I understand was during this period the practice ?
IG. Monolith Monsters, was a picture I worked on and wrote original music for, but as you say there was some music tracked onto the picture from the library of music the studio had put together, composers such as Henry Mancini, Herman Stein, William Lava etc. This music had appeared within other movies. But with IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE, that was a completely original score, all original music, and we established cinematic items or little musical clips that we could latch onto to identify certain characters in the movie
What was your music relationship like with Joseph Gersheson,
IG, Fine just fine (laughs)
What composers would you say have influenced you ?
Over the years I have to say Korngold and Waxmn influenced me the most, they were absolutely marvelous at scoring motion pictures,
Does your approach differ when scoring a TV project as opposed to working on a feature film ?
IG I approach each one in a similar fashion, I write to and for the picture, I find the difference minimal, so I write music to enhance what I see on the screen large or small.
Have you a score of your own that you look upon with particular affection ?
Yes I do, THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN, it was just a pleasure to work on.
Jm When asked to work on a project, did you have a lot to do with the producer or director, or would they leave you to your own devices ?
No, I would meet with either the producer or director, and maybe the editor at times, and get what ever ideas they might have, after this I would then continue on my own way with the assignment, so after meeting with the producer etc, I would normally proceed unimpeded.
JM You are a conductor as well as a composer, did you prefer to conduct your scores and work on your own orchestrations ?
I do prefer my own conducting, but at times this was not possible due to time normally and I had to be in the recording booth to supervise. So I would hire a conductor, or at least the studio would hire one, I did like to do my own orchestrations though, as I think orchestration is all part of the composing process and the composers personality can come through in his orchestrations.