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 Posted:   May 24, 2013 - 5:01 PM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

I've longed for the High Fidelity archives from that era to become available online (as Starlog and Omni are now) because of the classical reviews and articles. I didn't even know til now that there was a film music issue!

That issue was a significant break from an era when the popular record review magazines (High Fidelity, Stereo Review, and Audio) generally treated film music with bemused contempt. Of course there weren't that many film music recordings to review in those days anyway. Royal S. Brown, writing in High Fidelity, did show an appreciation as early as 1969 with his review of the first of Bernard Herrmann's Phase 4 albums. His HF writings, which covered the early FMC and RCA issues, have never been collected. His later, longer, and crankier reviews for Fanfare have of course been collected in his Film Musings (Scarecrow, 2007).

 
 Posted:   May 24, 2013 - 5:58 PM   
 By:   Frank DeWald   (Member)

What a moving tribute to a very special composer! I only met him once, but even in the 5 minutes he spent at our table during a post-concert gathering (brought about only because someone else in our party had far more chutzpah than any of the rest of us - Rozsaphile remembers the occasion far better than I!) he radiated the same wonderful warmth and enthusiasm Kraft describes in his article. If, as they say, the music is the measure of the man, Elmer Bernstein was a wonderful human being! Thanks to Kraft for reminding us in so vivid and personal a way!

 
 
 Posted:   May 24, 2013 - 7:12 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

That's a terrific piece; and I was astonished to see that it includes audio samples of 109 titles from Elmer's filmography.


Despite that impressive array, there are a few omissions. I suppose we can forgive excluding the three sequels to THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, but not THE CARPETBAGGERS.

It's great to listen to all of those themes uninterrupted.

 
 Posted:   May 24, 2013 - 8:17 PM   
 By:   George Komar   (Member)

I remember the days of Elmer Bernstein's Film Music Collection so vividly. When I ordered his Royal Philharmonic LP of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD from the series, I requested on the form if Mr. Bernstein would kindly autograph the cover. (Seriously, I thought at the time that I was making the request through a secretary in his office!)

Two weeks later, the autographed copy arrived in the mail. That was the closest that I would ever come to meeting the man...

Except that the man is in his music, and we get to "meet" the composer every time we listen to his music.

 
 
 Posted:   May 24, 2013 - 8:30 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

That was a wonderful remembrance by Richard Kraft. Just lovely. Like Loren, I'd love to
be able to read Bernstein's article "What Ever Happened to Great Movie Music?" I searched the Internet but couldn't find it. Anyone know how this can be found?

At one time I had my e mail in my profile at FSM, and I had many times waxed poetic my love for Bernstein's music. Someone from his recording firm (Amber records?) contacted me to say the Elmer Bernstein was touched by my comments, so he must have read some of our topics. He sent me an autographed CD of Big Jake and an autographed picture of him. "For Joan, Elmer Bernstein." I may be buried with those treasures. Wish I had met this lovely man.

 
 Posted:   May 24, 2013 - 8:47 PM   
 By:   Justin Boggan   (Member)

Loved the this tribute but one thing that I may have missed, who was this protege?

Linda Martinez, whom committed suicide with -- as I recall -- no note left behind. From what little I heard of her small filmography, we lost somebody with potential.

If you look around, you can find a touching photo of her sitting with Elmer.

 
 
 Posted:   May 25, 2013 - 12:43 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

I was astonished to see that it includes audio samples of 109 titles from Elmer's filmography.

The track from GRIZZLY actually opens with the music of Jerome Moross before the appearance of Bernstein's "National Geographic" theme.

 
 Posted:   May 25, 2013 - 3:41 AM   
 By:   Henry Jones   (Member)

Beautiful article, a lot of emotion but not maudlin. Thank you Mr Kraft!

Loved the this tribute but one thing that I may have missed, who was this protege?
Well, if you look closely, Richard uses the word protegee, rather than protege, meaning female of the species...


It could be Cynthia Millar, an ondes Martenot musician who worked a lot with Elmer. She did a beautiful score, Three Wishes (1995), which was released on CD. I bought it then and it's in the vein of Bernstein's writing.

To learn more about Mrs Millar: http://www.owenwhitemanagement.com/instrumentalists/Cynthia-Millar/

 
 Posted:   May 25, 2013 - 6:25 AM   
 By:   George Komar   (Member)

Loved the this tribute but one thing that I may have missed, who was this protege?

Well, if you look closely, Richard uses the word protegee, rather than protege, meaning female of the species...

It could be Cynthia Millar, an ondes Martenot musician who worked a lot with Elmer.


According to Mr. Kraft, "All eyes darted out to the orchestra, where Cynthia Millar was playing the ondes. 'What’s that doing here?' Landis said. 'It sounds like a flying saucer just landed in Mexico.' Elmer obliged by marking 'tacit' on most of her score."

That last sentence seems to suggest that, regretfully, there were times when Mr. Bernstein himself failed to promote his protégée. Was promoting Cynthia Millar clearly a specified part of Mr. Kraft's duties from the very outset?

 
 
 Posted:   May 25, 2013 - 10:43 AM   
 By:   James MacMillan   (Member)

That was a wonderful remembrance by Richard Kraft. Just lovely. Like Loren, I'd love to
be able to read Bernstein's article "What Ever Happened to Great Movie Music?" I searched the Internet but couldn't find it. Anyone know how this can be found?



Joan, I can easily send you the article, if only I had your e-mail address!

- JMM.

 
 
 Posted:   May 25, 2013 - 1:00 PM   
 By:   PFK   (Member)

A wonderful story, thanks for posting it.

 
 
 Posted:   May 25, 2013 - 1:37 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

Hi James,

That's a wonderful offer, and I do appreciate it. I had a lot of e mail problems, so I won't post
my latest e mail on line, and yours isn't posted either. I'll see if Niall's old e mail is still working and ask him to send you my e mail if he has yours. Thanks so much, Joan

 
 Posted:   May 25, 2013 - 1:57 PM   
 By:   Dr. Nigel Channing   (Member)

Beautiful article... thanks for the post.

 
 Posted:   May 25, 2013 - 2:06 PM   
 By:   YOR The Hunter From The Future   (Member)



What a great photo!

 
 
 Posted:   May 26, 2013 - 7:17 AM   
 By:   Niall from Ireland   (Member)

Hi James,

That's a wonderful offer, and I do appreciate it. I had a lot of e mail problems, so I won't post
my latest e mail on line, and yours isn't posted either. I'll see if Niall's old e mail is still working and ask him to send you my e mail if he has yours. Thanks so much, Joan


H Joan,
Just got your lovely message, great to be in touch again!!! I'm sending you Mr. MacMillan's email address!

 
 
 Posted:   May 26, 2013 - 11:38 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

Thank you for such a heartfelt tribute and insight into my first film music god. Before Williams, Goldsmith or Morricone I had more soundtrack LPs from Elmer Bernstein than any other composer (and indeed he had more releases than any other!). And each new release was such a revelation. He was the first composer from whom I could never know what to expect, his scores had such variety and range that I hardly could believe it was all from the same guy. And THAT was what made it so exciting.

Would his war score be a gritty grinding one for a modestly budgeted tale of Korea, MEN IN WAR or a glorious heroic one for a prisoner-in-war opus, THE GREAT ESCAPE? Would his western be comedic with Cinerama sound and 4 songs thrown in, THE HALLELUJAH TRAIL or a TexMex rendition for a Kurosawa story, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN? Might it be 6 minutes of guitar strummings reflecting the desolate landscape and souls of HUD or hours of Wagnerian bliss for a bible tale everybody and their mother would see, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. Elmer would take us places we’ve never been; to the Malaysian jungles with a Belafonte-like theme, RAMPAGE; the hardly covered Allied defensive in the south of France, KINGS GO FORTH or the war in Israel, CAST A GIANT SHADOW (what I thought was traditional Hebraic songs was Elmer). And During every epoch imaginable; biblical times, 8th century Mayan empire, KINGS OF THE SUN; 1720s London, WHERE’S JACK,; the Napoleonic era, THE MIRACLE; colonial HAWAII or the War of 1812, THE BUCCANEER (with what seems to be a dozen themes including a swashbuckling one!).

I can’t begin to describe to new collectors what an experience it was anticipating what the next Elmer would be like. It was glorious and since the heyday of the above mentioned composers I’ve never felt anything quite like it since. The musical journey he took us on was groundbreaking and breathtaking.

And that journey wasn’t just outward but inward. To properly plumb the depths of such writers as Tennessee Williams (SUMMER AND SMOKE), Eugene O’Neil (DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS), James Jones (SOME CAME RUNNING), Clifford Odets (SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS), Harper Lee (TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD) and James Michener, Elmer could not turn to traditional Golden Age scoring techniques which started sounding cliché but went in the direction of modern writing that Herrmann, North and Rosenman practised (and Elmer’s approach was distinctive enough to become his recognizable personal voice). The intimacy needed to tell the true stories of people like Robert Stroud (THE BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ) and Christy Brown (MY LEFT FOOT) benefitted greatly from that delicate quality. While at the same time Elmer was old enough to have one foot in that Golden Age, like Andre Previn, and could utilize that lush facility so often (BY LOVE POSSESED, THE VIEW FROM POMPEY’S HEAD, FROM THE TERRACE) he was picked, as the last remaining practitioner of that style, to recreate it for a modern day Douglas Sirk film FAR FROM HEAVEN. Speaking of which he was a friend of Bernard Herrmann and was chosen to adapt his music for the CAPE FEAR remake; of Dorothy Dandridge and was chosen to score the TV movie about her life and of Cecil B. DeMille and was chosen to score the TCM documentary about him.

But that was Elmer, he was so many different composers to so many people he would get underrated because people would only like the Elmer they wanted and rejected the other Elmers. I LIVED for all those Elmers. I would get giddy over some of his outrageous wonderful choices. He would score a film based on a steamy 1933 novel GOD’S LITTLE ACRE with…folksy Baptist style spirituals! His James Bond score THE SILENCERS was purely Vegas (appropriately for Dean Martin). The almost absurd tale of the last bridge on the Rhine THE BRIDGE AT REMAGEN, taken and defended by Americans from attacking Germans is scored with a march married with a Viennese waltz!

As you can see Elmer was propelled by challenges. The more difficult the better. If Pakula-Mulligan wanted their protagonist to play and sing Rock-a-billy on the guitar he would write the songs and one would hit the charts in BABY THE RAIN MUST FALL. If Saul Bass needed a powerful piece of music to be cut with a cat prowling, fighting, and then prowling again AND would fit the theme of the movie WALK ON THE WILD SIDE, Elmer would oblige, hit the charts again, and create for me Bass’s most memorable title sequence (yeah, more than PSYCHO, VERTIGO or IT’S A MAD, MAD WORLD). When Otto Preminger needed music for his film about a jazz drummer who became a drug addict, Elmer saw the opportunity to truly integrate jazz flow to express the uncontrolled blood fever of addiction. The jazz riff increased in intensity until he got his fix. It became more influential in so many ways that went beyond Alex North’s integration of jazz elements in STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. Oh yeah, also while hitting the jazz charts and being synced to a Saul Bass title sequence.

And when it came to innovation how about electronics in 1952 with CAT WOMEN ON THE MOON and ROBOT MONSTER, now guilty cult classics. Having been blacklisted he made do with the sound you could get when you used a Novachord, a Hammond B3 organ, some electrified instruments and an extremely small orchestra. The good people at Capitol records, where he recorded these, took note. He used electronics judiciously throughout his career including the representation of the insane mind in his astounding driving main theme to THE CARETAKERS! BTW even though I love Frank Zappa’s 100 MOTELS and Stu Phillip’s BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS the psychedelic score I think of when that genre is mentioned is Elmer’s I LOVE YOU ALICE B TOKLAS.

You notice I haven’t even mentioned his associations with John Wayne, John Landis, Ivan Reitman and Martin Scorsese, or his long associations with jazz, western and comedy scores. That is because that is all he is known for and totally evaluated by on here and I say that is only the tip of the iceberg.

That is because there wasn’t just a number of Elmers but each Elmer had a number of careers. For instance while all that I have listed above was going on he was all over the television. I didn’t know at the time but the themes to RIVERBOAT, JOHNNY STACCATO, OWEN MARSHAL, JULIA, SAINTS AND SINNERS, ELLERY QUEEN, HOLLYWOOD AND THE STARS, GE THEATER, ABC STAGE 67 and NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC (which is used to this day) and many more were all his. And his theme to THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN was the theme to the series and, to his dismay, represented Marlboro cigarettes in their Marlboro country ads for years.
He began his association with documentary producer David Wolper in 1959 with THE RACE FOR SPACE and proceeded to do dozens of projects for him, some legendary like THE MAKING OF THE PRESIDENT.

In 1953 he began his association with Charles Eames with the short film A COMMUNICATIONS PRIMER and proceeded to do over 150 experimental shorts, commercials, industrial films and exhibits with this design genius over the next 25 years. This include POWERS OF TEN which starts with a wide shot of the entire known universe and zooms in into the sub-atomic particles in a man’s hand.

He worked on a number of scores for stageplays including LAURETTE that was released on Kritzerland.

And speaking of the stage, musical theater was a chunk of his resume. He was rehearsal pianist and musical assistant on Danny Kaye’s gem THE COURT JESTER. He did the dance music for the film version of OKLAHOMA which led him to doing the dance music to THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. He did the background scores to the stage version of PETER PAN and the film version of THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE plus the supervision and background to Anthony Newley’s MR. QUILP. Plus he had two Tony nominated musicals on Broadway HOW NOW DOW JONES and MERLIN. Again, most of this was totally unknown to me during those early collecting days.

And at the same time Elmer managed to conduct the Academy Awards, the background score to the Michael Jackson video THRILLER and the Neil Diamond Movie Album. He tried to preserve great film music when he created the Elmer Bernstein Film Music Collection, re-recordings of unreleased scores (available in The Bernstein Collection Box) and Filmmusic Notebook (available through the Film Music Society) to compliment them. Everything mostly financed out of his own pocket. Even though this experiment failed it led to a lifelong commitment to film music preservation as well as being president of the Society for the Preservation of Film Music from 1996 to 2001. BTW other positions he held include the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (first vice president, beginning in 1963; chair of the music branch with others), Screen Composers Association (director), Composers and Lyricists Guild of America (president, 1970--), National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (founding life member and director) and Young Musicians Foundation (president 1961-71).

When I think of the total accomplishments and experiences of this man who was a protégé of Aaron Copland, and who studied music with Roger Sessions, Israel Citkowitz and Stefan Wolpe, my mind boggles so I’m stopping here. And even though I have felt my previously mentioned film music “kings”, Goldsmith, Williams and Morricone have picked up and exceeded where Elmer left off, I can’t help believe he was the last major giant on whose shoulders they all stand. He was there first (When I first heard the RAIDERS theme I said “Aha, William’s GREAT ESCAPE!”).

To meet him was to love him. He had that unique sweetness in a composer that I would compare to, let’s say Chris Young. In their youth he and Jerry Goldsmith LOOKED very similar. His energy at 78 embarrassed me when I hit 49. And there was that rare civilized quality that may be echoed in someone like John Williams. When he was told he had his fatal cancer Elmer went on a cruise to Alaska with his wife. Life never ended for him, it still hasn’t

 
 
 Posted:   May 26, 2013 - 2:23 PM   
 By:   Tall Guy   (Member)


At one time I had my e mail in my profile at FSM, and I had many times waxed poetic my love for Bernstein's music. Someone from his recording firm (Amber records?) contacted me to say the Elmer Bernstein was touched by my comments, so he must have read some of our topics. He sent me an autographed CD of Big Jake and an autographed picture of him. "For Joan, Elmer Bernstein." I may be buried with those treasures. Wish I had met this lovely man.



Wow. That's impressive...

I don't recall you telling us this before, Joan, but sorry if I missed it or have forgotten. Such a good guy, such a talent - and he gave us the Magnificent Seven to boot.

Chris

 
 
 Posted:   May 26, 2013 - 3:39 PM   
 By:   James MacMillan   (Member)

It's interesting that Richard's piece has engendered so much interest in Mr Bernstein's article for High Fidelity magazine. For the un-initiated, here are the closing lines from Elmer's essay
- and I may say that they are even more appropriate today than at the time that he penned them -

"We live in times in which the soul must learn to live with the senseless killing of millions throughout the world; with the necessity of the double lock; with the knowledge of where not to walk after dark. We have learned to accept the philosophy that no person in public life can ever tell the whole truth, and that the future might hold annihilation either through man's brutishness or through his ecological selfishness. In such a world, art tends to become sensation, without form, without art and without humanity. In this atmosphere the quality of film scores is being strangled by the search for effect, for 'new sounds' without content and form on the part of the artist, and by avarice on the part of the producer. Today the once proud art of film scoring has turned into a sound, a sensation, or hopefully a hit. How ironic that in an era in which music enjoys it's greatest popularity as an art, film producers are demonstrating the greatest ignorance of the use of music in films since the beginning of that medium's history"

 
 
 Posted:   May 26, 2013 - 6:23 PM   
 By:   PFK   (Member)

Morricone, that's a great piece you wrote.

I started buying soundtrack LPs in 1964 and all through the 60s Elmer had the most LPs by far.

Elmer fans might find this story interesting. In 1969 I took a guided tour to "Homes of the stars in Beverly Hills and area." It was a fun tour and the guide was a nice fellow. I decided to ask him where Elmer Bernstein lived knowing he would give me a blank look. I said "where does Elmer Bernstein live?" He replied: "I don't know but I was just playing his Hawaii last night. Great score!"

I bought the Hi Fidelity magazine when it came out in the 70s, still have it. It was exciting to read at the time.

 
 
 Posted:   May 26, 2013 - 9:43 PM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

Morricone, that's a great piece you wrote.

I started buying soundtrack LPs in 1964 and all through the 60s Elmer had the most LPs by far.

Elmer fans might find this story interesting. In 1969 I took a guided tour to "Homes of the stars in Beverly Hills and area." It was a fun tour and the guide was a nice fellow. I decided to ask him where Elmer Bernstein lived knowing he would give me a blank look. I said "where does Elmer Bernstein live?" He replied: "I don't know but I was just playing his Hawaii last night. Great score!"

I bought the Hi Fidelity magazine when it came out in the 70s, still have it. It was exciting to read at the time.


Thanks! Nice story.
I think I wrote it because there doesn't seem to be a lack of demand for Goldsmith, Williams or Morricone scores but Elmer has more unreleased material than any of them. And his scores, many of which are quite old, are in most danger of being lost as the disintegration of the original tracks to HALLELUJAH TRAIL has shown.

 
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