Tuesday, May 31, 2011

And the Oscar goes to...

Do the Oscars for score matter?  It all depends on who you ask.   I think if you didn’t know a composer, it might be a good start to knowing their work.  But history and pop culture don’t always mix with the winners (or nominees).  Awards in any category never have hindsight, so “classics” as we call them now might not have even been nominated.  Even multi-nominated composers might not have been nominated for the scores we think they should have been.  Also, looking at winners, it’s important to look at the fellow nominees.  What could have been a great score could win or lose depending on the strength of the others.  Rules nowadays have made it very hard for a double nominated composer to win either, usually voters splitting votes between.  Due to the rules (see below), some scores are rejected from getting a nomination (or aren't put up for consideration), so keep that in mind.

Rules and categories have changed over the years.  At the beginning of the award 1934-1937, the composers wouldn’t get the nomination or award, but rather the music department head.  Depending on the year, the category was split into Dramatic Picture and Comedy Picture.  They also divided the award into an award for Score and an award for Scoring.  This gave the non-original material an award for adapting Broadway musicals and revues.  I guess that makes sense.  In fact the latter category changed names to Scoring of Music-Adaptation or Treatment.  From 1970-1984 the category was known as Best Original Song Score and Adaptation Score or Best Original Song Score.  The songs featured in the Original Song Score could still be nominated in Best Original Song…so maybe that makes sense.  In 1995, the Academy split the Original Score category back into Dramatic Score and Musical or Comedy Score.  This happened because they decided it was hard to compare music to a film like Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Hamlet.  This ended in 1999, and all scores are in one category.  Anyone willing to read the official Academy rules can read here

That being said, I wanted to put together a list of stats according to the Oscars for well known composers.  I did my best at including Original Score/Adaptations/Songs.  As you can tell from the above section, it gets a teeny bit complex.  There are obviously composers not listed, but you can certainly get a clear enough picture.  The composers listed are ranked by total nominations, wins being the first number.   
ALFRED NEWMAN 9/41
JOHN WILLIAMS 5/41

DIMITRI TIOMKIN 4/22
VICTOR YOUNG 1/22
MAX STEINER 3/20
RANDY NEWMAN 2/20
ALAN MENKEN 8/19
HENRY MANCINI 4/18
RAY HEINDORF 3/18
JERRY GOLDSMITH 1/18
MIKLOS ROZSA 3/17
ALEX NORTH 0/15 + Honorary Award
JOHNNY GREEN 5/14
ELMER BERNSTEIN 1/14
MARVIN HAMLISCH 3/12

FRANZ WAXMAN 2/12

JAMES HORNER 2/10

THOMAS NEWMAN 0/11

MAURICE JARRE 3/9
HANS ZIMMER 1/9
DAVE GRUSIN 1/8
JAMES NEWTON HOWARD 0/8
JOHN BARRY 5/7
LALO SCHIFRIN 0/6
AARON COPLAND 1/6
BERNARD HERRMANN 1/5
ERNEST GOLD 1/5
ADOLPH DEUTCH 3/5

A.R. RAHMAN 2/5

GEORGES DELERUE 1/5
MARC SHAIMAN 0/5
ENNIO MORRICONE 0/5 +Honorary Award
 
MICHAEL GORE 2/4
ELLIOT GOLDENTHAL 1/4
DANNY ELFMAN 0/4
ALEXANDRE DESPLAT 0/5

HOWARD SHORE 3/3
ERICH WOLFGANG KORNGOLD 1/3
RACHEL PORTMAN 1/3
GABRIEL YARED 1/3
PHILIP GLASS 0/3
GUSTAVO SANTAOLALLA 2/2

MICHAEL GIACCHINO 1/2
JOHN CORIGLIANO 1/2
DARIO MARIANELLI 1/2

ALAN SILVESTRI 0/2
DAVID HIRSCHFELDER 0/2
MARCO BELTRAMI 0/2
DAVID RAKSIN 0/2
VANGELIS 1/1

LUDOVIC BOURCE 1/1
MYCHAEL DANNA 1/1
JAN A.P. KACZMAREK 1/1
NINO ROTA 1/1 (1 nomination withdrawn)


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dimitri Tiomkin: The Russian Cowboy

The last in my series of Golden Age composers is given to Dimitri Tiomkin.  Most non-film buffs have never heard his name, but his accomplishments are many and his film scores are classic.  

Born in Russia in 1894, Dimitri Tiomkin began his music career early (like most composers).  His classically trained mother taught him piano until Tiomkin studied piano at the St. Petersburg Conservatory under Felix Blumenthal and Alexander Glazunov.  During this time, he played piano accompaniment for films and got accustomed to styles such as ragtime, jazz and vaudeville.  As Russia fell into turmoil with the Revolution, Tiomkin left for Berlin, where his father had moved to. 

 In Berlin, Tiomkin studied with Ferruccio Busoni and composed short classical pieces, even appearing as soloist with the Berlin Philharmonic.  From that, in 1925 Tiomkin was given the chance to come to New York City.  There he played the vaudeville circuit, and accompanied a dance which was led by his future wife Albertina Rasch.  He continued to be musical director on many projects, and also continued to solo on piano.  In 1928, Tiomkin performed a concert of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and premiered the Concerto in F.
    

Tiomkin and the Albertina Rasch Dancers traveled to Hollywood in 1929, performing with Tiomkin’s music and Rasch’s choreography.  As Rasch began choreographing for motion pictures, she recommended her husband to compose some ballet scenes for some MGM pictures.  He was hired by Universal in 1931 for the full instrumental score to Resurrection.  With 1937’s Lost Horizon, Tiomkin began his collaboration with Frank Capra, who would work together again on 1938’s You Can’t Take It With You and 1939’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  Tiomkin’s first Oscar nomination came from Lost Horizon, but as per Academy rules went to Columbia music department head Morris Stoloff.  Capra and Tiomkin would also work on Meet John Doe (1941), many World War II documentaries and the perennial classic, It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) – the film that would end their collaboration.  Tiomkin also began collaborating with Alfred Hitchcock, starting with Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Strangers on a Train (1951), I Confess (1953) and ending with Dial M for Murder (1954).  It is interesting to note that Hitchcock’s next film began the collaboration with Bernard Herrmann.  

Through the 1940s, Tiomkin began composing music for many westerns, including many John Wayne films.  Of the westerns, none is more influential or highly regarded as High Noon (1952).  Working with lyricist Ned Washington, he wrote the song Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin, the title song of the film.  The song is interpolated throughout the score, similarly to Steiner’s Casablanca.  Tiomkin became the first composer to win two Oscars for the same film – for score and song.  After this win, Tiomkin continued to write original songs for his films and continued to be nominated for Oscars.  The string of westerns continued into the 1950s with The High and the Mighty (1954), Giant (1956), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) and Rio Bravo (1959).  He even composed the theme to the television show Rawhide and Gunslinger with Ned Washington.  John Wayne brought Tiomkin to The Alamo (1960) and he would eventually score The Guns of Navarone (1961) and The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964).  He continued scoring until returning to Europe in the late 60s.  He died in 1979.  

Tiomkin’s use of music in westerns shaped the genre.  His use of main theme songs has continued to this day.  His acknowledgments by the Academy Awards is staggering – 4 wins and 22 nominations.  His gift at melodies is evident in his songs and scores, and his skill to match music to the film makes him one of Hollywood’s best composers.  His recordings and soundtracks have remained popular to this day, both song and score to High Noon have appeared on the AFI 100 Years lists. 


MUSIC TO HEAR
The Alamo: Overture/Main Title (Click here to listen)
High Noon - Do Not Forsake Me (Click here to listen)
Compliation of Tiomkin Scores (Click here to listen)

As a bonus, A Visit with Dimitri Tiomkin, filmed around the time of 1956.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Directors and Their Composers

While some composers stick with one composer through their career, it isn't always possible, but they have certain go-to composers when the chance arrives.  Through these lists, it's easy to spot composers that come back for sequels and prequels or similar style movies.
The following is a few directors, who have used reoccurring composers, just to get an idea of some of their choices:

ALFRED HITCHCOCK (since 1940)
Family Plot (1976) – John Williams
Frenzy (1972) – Ron Goodwin
Topaz (1969) – Maurice Jarre
Torn Curtain (1966) – John Addison
Marnie (1964) – Bernard Herrmann
The Birds (1963)
Psycho (1960) – Bernard Herrmann
North by Northwest (1959) – Bernard Herrmann
Vertigo (1958) – Bernard Herrmann
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) – Bernard Herrmann
The Wrong Man (1956) – Bernard Herrmann
To Catch a Thief (1955) – Lyn Murray
The Trouble With Harry (1955) – Bernard Herrmann
Dial M For Murder (1954) – Dimitri Tiomkin
Rear Window (1954) – Franz Waxman
I Confess (1953) – Dimitri Tiomkin
Strangers on a Train (1951) – Dimitri Tiomkin
Stage Fright (1950) – Leighton Lucas
Under Capricorn (1949) – Richard Addinsell
Rope (1948) - David Buttolph (uncredited)
The Paradine Case (1947) – Franz Waxman
Notorious (1946) – Roy Webb
Spellbound (1945) – Miklós Rózsa
Lifeboat (1944) – Hugo Friedhofer
Shadow of a Doubt (1943) – Dimitri Tiomkin
Saboteur (1942) – Frank Skinner
Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941) - Edward Ward
Suspicion (1941) – Franz Waxman
Foreign Correspondent (1940) - Alfred Newman
Rebecca (1940) - Franz Waxman

RON HOWARD
Rush (2013) - Hans Zimmer
The Dilemma (2011) – Hans Zimmer
Angels and Demons (2009) – Hans Zimmer
Frost/Nixon (2008) – Hans Zimmer
The Da Vinci Code (2006) – Hans Zimmer
Cinderella Man (2005) – Thomas Newman
 
The Missing (2003) – James Horner
 
A Beautiful Mind (2001) – James Horner
How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) – James Horner
Edtv (1999) – Randy Edelman
Ransom (1996) – James Horner
Apollo 13 (1995) – James Horner
The Paper (1994) – Randy Newman
Far and Away (1992) – John Williams
Backdraft (1991) – Hans Zimmer
Parenthood (1989) – Randy Newman
 
Willow (1988) – James Horner
Gung Ho (1986) – Thomas Newman
Cocoon (1985) – James Horner
Splash (1984) – Lee Holdridge

JOE JOHNSTON

Captain America (2012) – Alan Silvestri
The Wolfman (2010) – Danny Elfman
Hidalgo (2004) – James Newton Howard
Jurassic Park III (2001) – Don Davis
October Sky (1999) – Mark Isham
Jumanji (1995) – James Horner
The Rocketeer (1991) - James Horner
Honey I Shrunk the Kids (1989) – James Horner


RICHARD DONNER
16 Blocks (2006) - Klaus Badelt
Timeline (2003) - Brian Tyler

Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) - Michael Kamen
Conspiracy Theory (1997) - Carter Burwell
Assassins (1995) - Mark Mancina
Maverick (1994) - Randy Newman
Lethal Weapon 3 (1992)  - Michael Kamen
Radio Flyer (1992) - Hans Zimmer
Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) - Michael Kamen
Scrooged (1988) - Danny Elfman
Lethal Weapon (1987) - Michael Kamen
Ladyhawke (1985) - Andrew Powell
The Goonies (1985) - Dave Grusin
The Toy (1982) - Patrick Williams
Inside Moves (1980) - John Barry
Superman (1978) - John Williams
The Omen (1976) - Jerry Goldsmith

RIDLEY SCOTT
The Counselor (2013) - Daniel Pemberton

Prometheus (2012) - Marc Streitenfeld/Harry Gregson-Williams
Robin Hood (2010) – Marc Streitenfeld
Body of Lies (2008) – Marc Streitenfeld
American Gangster (2007) – Marc Streitenfeld
A Good Year (2006) – Marc Streitenfeld
Kingdom of Heaven (2005) – Harry Gregson-Williams
Matchstick Men (2003) – Hans Zimmer
Black Hawk Down (2001) – Hans Zimmer
Hannibal (2001) – Hans Zimmer
Gladiator (2000) – Hans Zimmer/Lisa Gerrard
G.I. Jane (1997) – Trevor Jones
White Squall (1996) – Jeff Rona
1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992)  - Vangelis
Thelma & Louise (1991) – Hans Zimmer
Black Rain (1989) – Hans Zimmer
Someone to Watch Over Me (1987)  - Michael Kamen
Legend (1986) – Jerry Goldsmith
Blade Runner (1982) - Vangelis
Alien (1979) – Jerry Goldsmith

DAVID FINCHER
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network (2010) – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) – Alexandre Desplat
Zodiac (2007) – David Shire
Panic Room (2002) – Howard Shore
Fight Club (1999) – The Dust Brothers
The Game (1997) – Howard Shore
Seven (1995) – Howard Shore
Alien 3 (1992) – Elliot Goldenthal

MARTIN SCORSESE (only original scores)
Hugo (2011) - Howard Shore
The Departed (2006) - Howard Shore
The Aviator (2004) - Howard Shore
Gangs of New York (2002) - Howard Shore
Bringing Out the Dead (1999) - Elmer Bernstein
Kundun (1997) - Philip Glass
The Age of Innocence (1993) - Elmer Bernstein
Cape Fear (1991) - Elmer Bernstein
The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) - Peter Gabriel
The Color of Money (1986) - Robbie Robertson
After Hours (1985) - Howard Shore
Taxi Driver – Bernard Herrmann


Yes, This list could go on forever.  So if you really want more, look for directors like Barry Levinson, Ivan Reitman, Sam Raimi, James Cameron, Joe Dante, Billy Wilder, Frank Capra, Roland Emmerich, Gore Verbinski, John Favreau.  That should keep you busy.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Director and Composer Collaborations

Not all directors can pick their composers.  Even during the studio system, composers would move from studio to studio to work on a project.  There are only a handful of filmmakers that have stuck with their composers over many years.  I don't really want to dive into why these collaborations happen, but rather let the films and music speak for themselves.  I wanted to list the long term collaborations with a future post about the other well-known collaborations.

First off we have the directors and composers who have done a large number of films together.

STEVEN SPIELBERG + JOHN WILLIAMS
All movies 1974-Present except The Color Purple (1985)

Lincoln (2012)
The Adventures of Tintin (2011)                                
War Horse (2011)                                                             
Indiana Jones....Crystal Skull (2008)                       
War of the Worlds (2005)                                              
The Terminal (2004)                                                       
Catch Me If You Can (2002)                                        
Minority Report (2002)                                                 
A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001)                                                 
Saving Private Ryan (1998)                                          

Amistad (1997)                                                                  
The Lost World (1997)                                                    
Schindler's List (1993)                                                      
Jurassic Park (1993)
Hook (1991)
Always (1989)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Empire of the Sun (1987)
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
1941 (1979)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
 Jaws (1975)
The Sugarland Express (1974) 


TIM BURTON + DANNY ELFMAN
All movies 1985-Present except Ed Wood (1994) and Sweeney Todd (2007)
Frankenweenie (2012)
Dark Shadows (2012)
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Corpse Bride (2005)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
Big Fish (2003)
Planet of the Apes (2001)
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Mars Attacks! (1996)
Batman Returns (1992)
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Batman (1989)
Beetlejuice (1988)
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985)  

COEN BROTHERS + CARTER BURWELL
1984-Present
True Grit (2010)
A Serious Man (2009)
Burn After Reading (2008)
No Country for Old Men (2007)
The Ladykillers (2004)
Intolerable Cruelty (2003)
The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) “additional music”
The Big Lebowski (1998)
Fargo (1996)
The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
Barton Fink (1991)
Miller's Crossing (1990)
Raising Arizona (1987)
Blood Simple (1984)

SERGIO LEONE + ENNIO MORRICONE
1964-1984
Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
A Fistful of Dynamite (1971)
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
For a Few Dollars More (1965)
A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN + JAMES NEWTON HOWARD
1999-Present
After Earth (2013)
The Last Airbender (2010)
The Happening (2008)
Lady in the Water (2006)
The Village (2004)
Signs (2002)
Unbreakable (2000)
The Sixth Sense (1999)

ROBERT ZEMECKIS + ALAN SILVESTRI
1984-Present
Flight (2012)
A Christmas Carol (2009)
Beowulf (2007)
The Polar Express (2004)
Cast Away (2000)
What Lies Beneath (2000)
Contact (1997)
Forrest Gump (1994)
Death Becomes Her (1992)
Back to the Future Part III (1990)
Back to the Future Part II (1989)
Back to the Future II (1989)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
Back to the Future (1985)
Romancing the Stone (1984)


OTHER NOTABLE COLLABORATIONS
DAVID LEAN + MAURICE JARRE (3 films)
STEPHEN SOMMERS + ALAN SILVESTRI (3 films)
J.J. ABRAMS + MICHAEL GIACCHINO (3 films)
BRAD BIRD + MICHAEL GIACCHINO (3 films)
ANDREW ADAMSON + HARRY GREGSON-WILLIAMS (4 films)
PAUL GREENGRASS + JOHN POWELL (4 films)
JOHN LASSETER + RANDY NEWMAN (4 films)
DARREN ARONOFSKY + CLINT MANSELL (5 films)
BRYAN SINGER + JOHN OTTMAN (5 films)
MICHAEL CURTIZ + ERICH WOLFGANG KORNGOLD (6 films)
FRANKLIN J. SCHAFFNER + JERRY GOLDSMITH (7 films)
KENNETH BRANAGH + PATRICK DOYLE (8 films)
TONY SCOTT + HARRY GREGSON-WILLIAMS (8 films)
MEL BROOKS + JOHN MORRIS (9 films)
HAYAO MIYAZAKI + JOE HISAISHI (9 films)
ROB REINER + MARC SHAIMAN (11 films)
MICHAEL CURTIZ + MAX STEINER (31 films)

More to follow!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Franz Waxman and Miklós Rózsa: The Immigrants

I’ve combined Waxman and Rózsa into one post, because they share a very similar path.  Both were classically trained European immigrants (similar to other Golden Age composers), both composed for Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder, won Academy Awards, composed concert music, and born a year part.  Here is a brief glimpse at both men, starting with Waxman. 

Franz Waxman was born in 1907 Königshutte, Germany (now Poland).  Going against his father’s wishes, he began taking piano and composition classes.  He eventually studied music in Dresden and then Berlin.  There he joined the jazz ensemble Weintraub Syncopaters and began arranging for them.  With the Syncopaters performing, Waxman orchestrated the film The Blue Angel.  His career took off in 1933 as Waxman composed music for Lilliom and came to Hollywood to arrange music for Music in the Air. 

Waxman’s first major film score was for 1935’s sequel The Bride of Frankenstein for Universal, which led him to becoming music department head while continuing to compose and arrange.  During this time at Universal he composed such scores as Captains Courageous, The Bride Wore Red, A Christmas Carol (Reginald Owen version) and for David O. Selznick - The Young in Heart (which got Waxman his first Academy Award nominations).  He returned to Selznick in 1940 for Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca (and received another Oscar nod) and eventually went to MGM. 

Waxman left MGM in 1943 and moved to the Warner Bros studio.  The 1940s also brought us films such as The Philadelphia Story, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Oscar nom), returning to Hitchcock for Suspicion (Oscar nom), Destination Tokyo, Objective Burma! and Humoresque (both Oscar nominated).  By then, Waxman certainly was a strong composer in drama, suspense and comedy.  He also founded the Los Angeles International Music Festival, which premiered concert music by Rózsa and Waxman as well as modern classical composers such as Igor Stravinsky and Ralph Vaughn Williams.

The 1950s were Waxman’s highest point, and gave him his first back-to-back Oscars for Sunset Blvd. (1950) and for A Place in the Sun (1951).  Other highlights from the 1950s and 1960s include:
Rear Window (1954)
Mister Roberts (1955)
The Spirit of St. Louis; Peyton Place (1957)
Taras Bulba (1962)

Waxman was nominated for more Academy Awards for The Silver Chalice, The Nun’s Story and Taras Bulba.  In the 60s, Waxman composed music for television and his theme for Peyton Place was used in the television show of the same name.  He continued to compose concert music, including The Song of Terezin - Song Cycle before his death in 1967 at the age of 60. 


 
Miklós Rózsa was born in 1907 in Budapest, Hungary.  Like so many others, Rózsa began his music study early, taking lessons on piano, violin and viola.  Influenced by composers like Franz Liszt and Bela Bartok, Rózsa studied Hungarian folk songs and composed music like Variations on a Hungarian Peasant Song while at the University of Leipzig.  Rózsa continued studying and composing in Paris and London, before getting to score The Thief of Baghdad (1940), his first Hollywood hit. 

After moving to the United States, he continued to score films like The Jungle Book (1942) and Sahara (1943).  Rózsa had a string of hits in the late 1940s starting with Double Indemnity (1944).  For Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945), Rózsa turned to the spooky sounding Theremin – which he also would use in The Lost Weekend.  Hitchcock apparently didn’t like the score to Spellbound (which would win Rózsa his first Academy Award) and didn’t use Rózsa again for his movies.  He won the Oscar again in 1947 for the noir A Double Life.  He continued to score many films - and received a total of 11 Oscar nominations in the 1940s alone.  


The 1950s brought large scale epic pictures, many historical dramas.  Rózsa changed his style to include large brass fanfares, marches and strong rhythms.  Films like Quo Vadis, Ivanhoe, Julius Caesar, Ben-Hur, King of Kings and El Cid all benefited from Rózsa’s scoring skills.  This is most evident in the classic Parade of the Charioteers in Ben-Hur, perhaps his most familiar music – and for which he won his third Oscar.  

He continued to compose concert music like his Violin Concerto for Jascha Heifetz and Hungarian Serenade.  He also put together many concert suites of his film scores, most notably the Spellbound Concerto for piano.  Rózsa continued to compose film scores until 1982 and concert works up to his death in 1995 at the age of 88. 

MUSIC TO HEAR:
Waxman - Sunset Blvd (click here to listen)
Waxman - Rebecca (click here to listen)
Rózsa - Spellbound Concerto (click here to listen)
Rózsa - Ben-Hur – Parade of the Charioteers (click here to listen)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Erich Wolfgang Korngold: The Swashbuckler

Born in 1897 in Austria, now Czech Republic, Korngold showed extreme musical talent as a child.  His father Julius Korngold was a music critic, and began his son on piano and theory lessons.  In 1906 at the age of 9, Korngold premiered his cantata Gold.  Well-known composers such as Giacomo Puccini, Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss praised Korngold’s talents.  Through Mahler, Korngold began studying with composer Alexander von  Zemilinsky.  He continued composing orchestral pieces and several operas, including Die Tote Stadt – one of his most popular works. 

By the 1930s as his reputation grew, Korngold received an invitation to Hollywood from Max Reinhart to adapt Mendelssohn’s score for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Also in 1935 Korngold scored Give Us This Night, Rose of the Rancho, and returned to Warner Bros for his first Errol Flynn film – Captain Blood.  Similarly to composer Max Steiner, Korngold used the operatic techniques and applied it to film scores.  The scores of this time became more epic in scope and used leitmotifs for characters and ideas.  In 1936 Korngold scored four films including Another Dawn and Anthony Adverse.  Korngold’s score for Anthony Adverse won him an Oscar (although as early Oscar tradition went, the award went to music department head Leo Forbstein).  As the threat of the Nazis grew stronger in Austria, Korngold stayed in Hollywood to score The Adventures of Robin Hood.  Korngold would later say “that film score saved my life”.  Korngold won the Oscar again for Robin Hood, which remains his most famous film score.  Meanwhile, Korngold set a new standard for adventure films.  His swashbuckling scores feature lush strings, strong brass and romantic melodies, deeming him one of the composers of ‘The Hollywood Sound’.  Some of this credit goes to his primary orchestrator Hugo Friedhofer. 

In 1939 and 1940 Korngold received more Oscar nominations for the Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex and The Sea Hawk, respectively.  During this time, Korngold never stopped composing concert music and operas.  He blended film and concert music in his Violin Concerto and Cello Concerto, using themes from his scores of Another Dawn, Juarez, Anthony Adverse, Prince and the Pauper, and DeceptionDeception was his last film score in 1946.  He continued composing concert music, including his Symphony in F-sharp until he died in 1957 at the age of 60. 

Of the major golden age film composers, Korngold only scored 20 films.  His influence has certainly gone beyond those scores. The AFI ranked The Adventures of Robin Hood on the list of top film scores.  The Korngold-type sound is notably the inspiration for rebirth of orchestral scores in films by composers like Jerry Goldsmith, Howard Shore and John Williams.  Scores like Star Wars and Superman bear similar melodic structure and orchestrations to many Korngold films.  (See Music to Hear for the comparison of the main titles to Kings Row and Star Wars).  While not the most prolific, Korngold’s work for film music is great and he remains as one of the leaders in The Hollywood Sound.

MUSIC TO HEAR:
The Adventures of Robin Hood – Procession and Epilogue (click here to listen)
Captain Blood – Main Theme (click here to listen)
The Sea Hawk (click here to listen)
Kings Row (click here to listen to Star Wars comparison)
Violin Concerto

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Fistful of Orchestrators, Part II

So, what do orchestrators do?  For each composer, the orchestrator’s job differs.  Basically the orchestrator is handed a sketch/demo of the music composed.  The sketch differs from composer to composer, as some are known to give almost complete sketches.  Others write MIDI demos and need the orchestrator to write harmony and counter melodies.  An orchestrator’s background might be helpful for only certain cues, rather than the whole movie.  Some of the earliest Hollywood orchestrators came from the world of Broadway. 
 

So here is another smattering of orchestrators of past and present: 
 
John Neufeld
 
Composer Collaborators: John Williams, James Horner
Score Examples: Home Alone, Rocketeer, Far and Away, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Star Wars Episode I, Catch Me if You Can 

Thomas Pasatieri

Composer Collaborators: Thomas Newman, James Horner, Alan Menken
Score Examples: The Little Mermaid, The Shawshank Redemption, Legends of the Fall, American Beauty, Finding Nemo, The Good German, Wall-E 

Conrad Pope 

Composer Collaborators: Alexandre Desplat, Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard, James Horner, Alan Silvestri, John Williams, Hans Zimmer
Score Examples: The Rocketeer, Schindler’s List, Star Wars Episode I, Sleepy Hollow, Harry Potter 1, The Polar Express, Memoirs of a Geisha, King Kong, Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Last Airbender, Harry Potter 7
 

Edward B. Powell (1909-1984)
Composer Collaborations: Alfred Newman, Franz Waxman, Alex North

Score Examples: Young Mr Lincoln, How Green Was My Valley, Song of Bernadette, Miracle on 34th Street, Captain from Castile, All About Eve, Twelve O’Clock High, The Robe, The Egyptian, Diary of Anne Frank 


J.A.C. Redford 
 Composer Collaborators: James Horner, Thomas Newman
Score Examples: Bicentennial Man, The Perfect Storm, Spiderwick Chronicles, Wall-E, Revolutionary Road, Avatar 


William Ross  
Composer Collaborators: Alan Silvestri, Michael Kamen
Score Examples: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Father of the Bride, Forrest Gump, The Mummy Returns, Van Helsing, The Polar Express 

Jonathan Sacks

Composer Collaborators: Michael Kamen, Randy Newman
Score Examples: Mr Holland’s Opus, The X-Files, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Meet the Parents, Monsters Inc, Seabiscuit, Cars, The Princess and the Frog, Toy Story 3 

Conrad Salinger (1901-1962)
 
Composer Collaborators: George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Frederick Loewe
Score Examples: Gunga-Din, Lady Be Good, Girl Crazy, Meet Me In St Louis, Easter Parade, On the Town, An American in Paris, Singin in the Rain, Brigadoon, Gigi 

Tim Simonec
 
Composer Collaborators: Michael Giacchino, Graeme Revell
Score Examples: Titan A.E., Daredevil, The Incredibles, Mission Impossible III, Ratatouille, Star Trek, Up, Cars 2 

David Slonaker
 
Composer Collaborators: Danny Elfman, Alan Silvestri
Score Examples: Sleepy Hollow, The Mummy Returns, Spiderman, Tomb Raider 2, Van Helsing, Milk, Alice in Wonderland 

Herbert Spencer (1905-1992)
 
Composer Collaborators: John Williams, Alfred Newman
Score Examples: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Carousel, Jaws, A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Cocoon, Home Alone 

John Ashton Thomas

Composer Collaborators: John Powell, Alan Silvestri, James Newton Howard
Score Examples: United 93, X-Men 3, Night at the Museum, Beowulf, Kung Fu Panda, Astro Boy, How to Train Your Dragon, The Last Airbender, Rio 

Danny Troob
 
Composer Collaborators: Alan Menken
Score Examples: Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Enchanted, Tangled 


Eugene Zador (1894 – 1977)
Composer Collaborators
: Miklos Rozsa

Score Examples: Double Indemnity, Spellbound, The Lost Weekend, Adam’s Rib, Ben-Hur, King of Kings, El Cid

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Fistful of Orchestrators, Part I

Since the beginning of film music, the orchestrator has been a vital part of the process.  The one thing that comes up is what do these mysterious people do and what they even look like.  For earlier films, orchestrators (and tons of crew members) were uncredited.  Even now, not all people that work on film scores are listed in the credits.

Here I’ve picked a few leading orchestrators of past or present.  It would be quite impossible to list every orchestrator or every movie they’ve worked on, but this is a nice basic list.  You’ll note a lot of repeating composer names and repeating movie titles – since a movie could have somewhere between 1 and maybe more than 5 orchestrators. 
Pete Anthony

Composer Collaborators: Marco Beltrami, John Debney, James Newton Howard, Marc Shaiman, Theodore Shapiro, Edward Shearmur, Christopher Young
Score Examples: Mimic, Wonder Boys, Atlantis The Lost Empire, Old School, Peter Pan, Batman Begins, Spiderman 3, Tropic Thunder, Water for Elephants, Mars Needs Moms
Jeff Atmajian
Composer Collaborators: James Newton Howard, Rachel Portman, Marc Shaiman, Howard Shore, Gabriel Yared, Christopher Young
Score Examples: Waterworld, The American President, Dinosaur, South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut, Peter Pan, King Kong, Defiance, The Dark Knight
Steve Bartek
Composer Collaborators: Danny Elfman
Score Examples: Batman, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Spiderman, Nightmare Before Christmas


Frank Bennett
Composer Collaborators:
John Debney, Jerry Goldsmith, James Newton Howard
Score Examples: The Simpsons, Cutthroat Island, Elf, Passion of the Christ, King Kong, Iron Man 2


Chris Boardman

Composer Collaborators: James Newton Howard, Quincy Jones, Michael Kamen
Score Examples: The Wiz, Die Hard, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Fugitive, James and the Giant Peach


James B. Campbell
Composer Collaborators: Alan Silvestri
Score Examples: Romancing the Stone, Back to the Future trilogy, Predator, The Abyss
Alexander Courage (1919-2008)

Composer Collaborators: Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams
Score Examples: Showboat, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, My Fair Lady, Star Trek The Motion Picture, Rudy, Jurassic Park, Air Force One, The Mummy
Don Davis

Composer Collaborators: James Horner, Michael Kamen, Randy Newman
Score Examples: Aliens, Die Hard 2, Legends of the Fall, Apollo 13, Toy Story, Titanic, Matrix Trilogy, Toy Story 3
Brad Dechter

Composer Collaborators: John Debney, James Newton Howard, John Powell
Score Examples: Pretty Woman, Last of the Mohicans, Cutthroat Island, The Sixth Sense, Dinosaur, Bruce Almighty, Peter Pan, Van Helsing, Spiderman 2, King Kong, The Water Horse, Predators, Mars Needs Moms, Cars 2
Nicholas Dodd
Composer Collaborators: David Arnold, Andrew Lockington
Score Examples: Independence Day, Tomorrow Never Dies, Casino Royale, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Avatar, Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Robert Elhei

Composer Collaborators: Klaus Badelt, Elliot Goldenthal, James Newton Howard,   Michael Kamen, Edward Shearmur, Brian Tyler
Score Examples: Heat, Batman Forever, The Iron Giant, The Sixth Sense, X-Men, Frida, Pirates of the Caribbean, Public Enemies, The Expendables
Bruce Fowler
Composer Collaborators: Hans Zimmer, John Powell, Harry Gregson-Williams
Score Examples: Backdraft, Speed, The Lion King, Crimson Tide, The Rock, Armageddon, Gladiator, Chicken Run, Shrek, Batman Begins, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sherlock Holmes, Inception, Rango
Hugo Friedhofer (1901-1981)
Composer Collaborators: Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Max Steiner
Score Examples: Captain Blood, Life of Emile Zola, Tovarich, Adventures of Robin Hood, Rebecca, The Sea Hawk, Kings Row, Casablanca
Jack Hayes (1919-2011)

Composer Collaborators: Elmer Bernstein, Randy Newman, John Morris, Alfred Newman, Quincy Jones, Michael Giacchino
Score Examples: The Greatest Story Ever Told, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Elephant Man, The Wrath of Khan, Spaceballs, The Incredibles, Up
Ray Heindorf (1908-1980)

Composer Collaborators: Max Steiner, Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Score Examples: Street Scene, Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, Yankee Doodle Dandy, The Music Man
Jon Kull
Composer Collaborators: Marco Beltrami, Marc Shaiman, James Newton Howard, Theodore Shapiro
Score Examples: Scream 2, Rush Hour, Wild Wild West, Treasure Planet, Monster House, Lady in the Water, The Last Airbender, The Tourist
Ladd McIntosh

Composer Collaborators: Hans Zimmer, Harry Gregson-Williams, John Powell
Score Examples: The Lion King, Con Air, Antz, Gladiator, Shrek, Curse of the Black Pearl, Chronicles of Narnia, X-Men Origins Wolverine, Prince of Persia, Cowboys & Aliens
Mark McKenzie

Composer Collaborators: Bruce Broughton, Danny Elfman, Alan Silvestri, John Powell
Score Examples: Coming to America, A Few Good Men, Batman Returns, Nightmare Before Christmas, Men in Black, Lilo and Stich, Van Helsing, Mr & Mrs Smith
Greig McRitchie (1914-1997)

Composer Collaborators: John Barry, Basil Poledouris, James Horner
Score Examples: Conan The Barbarian, Krull, Search for Spock, Aliens, Willow, Glory, Hunt for Red October, Dances with Wolves, Last of the Mohicans, Starship Troopers
Dave Metzger

Composer Collaborators: John Powell, Alan Silvestri, Trevor Rabin, Mark Mancina
Score Examples: Speed 2, Tarzan, Brother Bear, Flyboys, August Rush, Kung Fu Panda, Bolt, Night at the Museum 2, How to Train Your Dragon, Rio
Arthur Morton (1908-2000)
Composer Collaborators: Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams
Score Examples: Laura, Planet of the Apes, Patton, Star Wars, Superman, Alien, Star Trek the Motion Picture, Rudy, LA Confidential

Many photos by
Dan Goldwasser at www.ScoringSessions.com

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Quick Reviews: Mars Needs Moms / Rio

Mars Needs Moms
Music composed by John Powell
Orchestrated by: Pete Anthony, Brad Dechter, John Ashton Thomas, Beth Caucci, Michael John Mollo, Germaine Franco, Dave Metzger
Additional music by: Michael Z. Gordon, Paul Mounsey
Conducted by: Pete Anthony
Album time: 49 minutes
Available on Walt Disney Records

The animated film monster, John Powell, released two scores this year – Mars Needs Moms being the first.
  Most known for his collaboration with DreamWorks Animation, Powell previously worked with Disney on Bolt (2008).  Coming off his recent Oscar nomination for How to Train Your Dragon, Powell is as requested and popular as he was before. 

Unfortunately, Mars Needs Moms is quite similar to his previous scores to Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon.
  Luckily for Powell this isn’t exactly a bad thing.  His scores are enjoyable on many levels – featuring great themes and memorable moments (just not as many as Dragons).  He has been varying his sound over the years, using less electronic beats and going with a more orchestral sound.  I really enjoyed the heroic theme in Mars Needs Moms, even if some moments sound like the Shrek theme.  The track Enjoy the Ride contains a theme very similar to Hiccup’s theme in Dragons.  Several times through the score a chorus was used to great effect.  Also included was the sound of a Theremin – a must for sci-fi scores.  In Gribble’s Loss, Powell uses a piano for one of the tenderest moments of the score.  The piano isn’t often used for solos in Powell’s scores, so that was a welcome change.  I hope he writes more music like that.  He writes great action cues and other exciting fun cues.  Transformation was a great track as well, but if you’re interested in hearing a sample of what the score is like, the Credits Suite is just fine.  Powell’s music is fun and his style always fits nicely with the film.

MUSIC TO HEAR:

Enjoy the Ride
Gribble’s Loss
Transformation
Mars Needs Moms Credits Suite

Oh, and don’t listen to Martian Mambo, one of the most irritating tracks on a score release in a while.  It’s so irritating that I’m sure the few kids that saw Mars Needs Moms wouldn’t even like it.  






Rio

Music composed by John Powell

Orchestrated by: John Ashton Thomas, Dave Metzger, Rick Giovinazzo, Andrew Kinney, Randy Kerber,
Germaine Franco, Jon Kull, Ben Wallfisch
Additional music by: Paul Mounsey, Dominic Lewis, Carlinhos Brown, Mikael Mutti
Conducted by: Pete Anthony
Album time: 47 minutes
Available on Varese Sarabande

It is hard to be surprised that another 3D animated movie came out and John Powell wrote the score.  This time, Blue Sky Studios made the film.  Powell worked for them previously on Robots (2005), Ice Age 2 (2006), Horton Hears a Who (2008) and Ice Age 3 (2009). 
I enjoy the Brazilian flavor added to the score.  Many tracks reminded me of Michael Giacchino’s score to Ratatouille, though this score didn’t sound like retreaded Powell music.  The closest comparison I would make is to bits and pieces of Chicken Run.  The orchestrators deserve some credit giving the score the Brazilian flavor, using more unique instruments (guitars, lots of Latin percussion and whistling).  After a while all the tracks started sounding the same.  Powell did incorporate the song Real in Rio and a few other songs (found on song album) into many of the parts of the score, which worked nicely.  The bass clarinet gives the “villain” theme its sense of danger, and there luckily isn’t an overly sappy love theme.  Through the score, we get a quiet statement of a Powell-esque theme.  It comes to full orchestra in Rio Airport.  Flying is a great track, as customary that Powell’s scores always end really well.  Overall, this score is fun and the orchestrations are lively.  The melodies aren’t quite his best, but that doesn’t hurt the score. 

MUSIC TO HEAR:
Morning Routine
Umbrellas of Rio
Rio Airport
Flying

And for those wanting to hear the songs in the movie, there’s a soundtrack album for you.