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 Posted:   Apr 17, 2010 - 3:45 PM   
 By:   ToneRow   (Member)

Was there ever a soundtrack album more 'Ivesian' than "Ulysses", by Stanley Myers?

I am not referring here to any film based on mythology, such as the 1955 peplum "Ulysses" starring Kirk Douglas, nor am I referencing any indie/progressive rock band, nor whomever is buried in Grant's tomb. "Ulysses" - the novel by Irish author James Joyce - was adapted for cinema in 1967, about 45 years subsequent to its publishing in 1922. The film was directed by Joseph Strick, and it was the 2nd feature film to be scored by Stanley Myers, who had done "Kaleidoscope" for Jack Smight the year prior.

Stanley Myers was quite fortunate to have soundtrack LPs released for his first 2 films; while the pop-music oriented "Kaleidoscope" demonstrated that Myers could deliver the goods in the realm of commercial entertainment, his efforts on display for this literary adaptation of "Ulysses" proves that Stanley Myers had very few peers who could equal his chameleon-like virtuosity of compositional styles.

Here is my (amateur) analysis on "Ulysses" - a record review, if you will, 43 years after the fact...

Side 1
• Overture: a brief march, with Hebraic colorings, opens this lengthy piece (over 9 minutes long) which then segues into several distorted renderings of Irish tunes blended together in medley form before returning to the Hebrew theme. The 2nd half of this track is Gregorian Chant performed by male choir, indicating the religious institutions in Ireland.
• Nestor: the chamber-music serenity which commences this selection is abruptly countered by (and alternates with) light-hearted phrases. A sort of musical question and answer, in which the somber religiosity of the strings are contrasted with buffoonery from the wind instruments.
• Telemachus: this very brief track (1:12) is like a micro-concerto for flute and string quartet .
• Circe: cheerful upbeat music, performed by solo bar-room piano, symbolizes not only the pubs in Ireland but the spirits found within as well.

Side 2
• Proteus: morose music, mainly from a Bartokian use of strings, communicates an atmosphere of unease and doom.
• Nausicaa: the chorus returns - singing Gregorian Chant - this time leading to a goosebump-inducing hallucinatory conclusion, not unlike the avant-garde music of Gyorgy Ligeti (this was 1 year prior to the release of "2001"!).
• Circe: This highlight of the album, a potpourri track, starts rhythmically (a cowbell can be heard amongst the percussion) with some sardonic 12-tone contributions from winds. This mood is quickly changed by the entrance of a drunken march, which subsequently ushers in a return of the bar-room piano, this time playing in silent-movie fashion. Some fluttering woodwinds are heard next, after which the Hebrew march which opened the album returns, only to followed by yet another march, this one sounding more properly from a marching band until it ends in a dissonant distortion, not too unlike the work one associates with Charles Ives.
• Ithaca: step-like, meditative music played by a chamber orchestra sees that this album closes with a reassuring tranquility that was in evidence only fleetingly earlier on this soundtrack.

Stanley Myers used the cowbell again for his next assignment "No Way To Treat A Lady", another Myers masterpiece, with director Jack Smight. As was typical of that time period, the LP albums were re-recordings that differed from the music heard within the films' actual soundtracks. While this tactic may have added some material for listening purposes that wasn't in the film itself, such as the extraneous song and rock beats on the DOT LP of "No Way To Treat A Lady", this rather works to the listener's advantage on RCA Victor's LP of "Ulysses" because we get to hear much more music on the disc that wasn't very audible within the film itself. Much of the brilliant and diverse music that Stanley Myers wrote for "Ulysses" was unfortunately omitted, dialed-out, or played at such a low level during the film it was difficult to discern the music's presence, let alone its quality. Perhaps it was decided, and rightly so, that "Ulysses" is first and foremost about the dialogue written by James Joyce. True enough, a film score should be subordinate to, and never overpower, the drama onscreen. In the case of "Ulysses", a very satisfying byproduct of this character and dialogue driven piece is Stanley Myers' musical depiction of Leopold Bloom's fantasies, which receive mercurial swings in ethnicity and degrees of sobriety. "Ulysses" is a soundtrack to be cherished, released once on LP in 1967, and never re-issued in a digital format. "Ulysses" is apparently on nobody's wish list (according to the soundtrack collector website) most likely due to the soundtrack collecting community's ignorance of the film and their unfamiliarity with the body of Stanley Myers' work as a whole.

For those who already own "Ulysses", you should likely agree with me that this soundtrack music is the closest that a film score has gotten to a Charles Ives-like juxtaposing of quotations on musical standards (marches, folk tunes, hymns, etc.) alongside unstable tonality. Jerry Goldsmith encroached onto this type of territory with his score for "The Mephisto Waltz" by quoting the titular work by Franz Liszt, as well as the Latin "Dies Irae", and distorting them with his brand of serial atonality rather than creating any new themes for the characters and/or the situations. "Ulysses" is not a horror film score, however; it is not fierce in its dissonance but, rather like a circus act, heralds one item right after another in a frenzied clashing manner. For those who do not know about this "Ulysses", in this single score, Stanley Myers both displayed a remarkable range of styles and achieved a greater degree of prowess than some of his contemporaries (such as John Barry) have done during their lifetimes. After 4 LPs in row ("Otley" on Colgems being the other one not mentioned thus far), Myers went onto Hubert Cornfield's "The Night Of The Following Day", and surprised us again with a jazzy score in a European mold, though this time there was never a soundtrack. Subsequent to 1969, Stanley Myers was very prolific during the 1970s through the '80s until his death in 1993, though most of the projects he worked on have had short-lived acknowledgement and soundtrack albums were sporadic. Stanley Myers seems to have suffered the 'John Scott syndrome', even more than John Scott himself, by his association with less-than-high-profile pictures on which he gets very little remembrance despite his fine work all around.

Stanley Myers was mentor to Hans Zimmer. I believe Zimmer has said that everything "good" he learned from Myers. So, advice to Zimmer followers: investigate the past work of Stanley Myers!

 
 Posted:   Apr 18, 2010 - 2:27 AM   
 By:   wayoutwest   (Member)

Very interesting ToneRow Would love to see more of Myers Scores released on cd,almost everyone Score Collector or not must have heard his Powerful theme Cavatina played by John Williams in The Deer Hunter,Believe it was re used from an earlier score of his called The Walking Stick.

Have Sitting Target which is very good.


Also have his score Histoire D'o N.2 which I have yet to listen to bought the cd it was on to get
Pierre Bachelet - Histoire D'o. wink

 
 Posted:   Apr 18, 2010 - 5:13 AM   
 By:   The Cat   (Member)

I'll soon be running a special Myers feature and had to go through a lot of his work to get prepared for it. Ulysses is easily one of his best scores - I love his "student marching band" arrangement of Dies Irae. It's truly and odd score if there ever was one.

 
 Posted:   Apr 18, 2010 - 8:35 AM   
 By:   ToneRow   (Member)

Very interesting ToneRow Would love to see more of Myers Scores released on cd,almost everyone Score Collector or not must have heard his Powerful theme Cavatina played by John Williams in The Deer Hunter,Believe it was re used from an earlier score of his called The Walking Stick.
Have Sitting Target which is very good.
Also have his score Histoire D'o N.2 which I have yet to listen to bought the cd it was on to get
Pierre Bachelet - Histoire D'o. wink


Thanks for the feedback, wayoutwest. Sure, I'd love more Stanley Myers scores on CD, too, but I'm afraid the decisionmakers behind our specialty labels may regard Myers as a "Silver Age" Hugo Friedhofer (in other words younger/newer collectors will ask "who the hell is Stanley Myers?" or "I've never heard of that film he did"...). Yes, I'm familiar with the soundtrack for "The Deer Hunter". Other Myers works on CD include "The Martian Chronicles", "The Torrents Of Spring" on CAM, Intrada's "Trusting Beatrice & Cold Heaven", plus "Voyager" (which is coupled with Maurice Jarre's "The Tin Drum"). Thanks for the image of "Sitting Target"; this is one Myers disc I do not have.

 
 Posted:   Apr 18, 2010 - 8:38 AM   
 By:   Grecchus   (Member)

I'm not that familiar with Myers, though I've been meaning (for ever) to get a copy of the Martian Chronicles. At a guess, I'd say he's more well known for this than anything else.

 
 Posted:   Apr 18, 2010 - 8:50 AM   
 By:   ToneRow   (Member)

I'll soon be running a special Myers feature and had to go through a lot of his work to get prepared for it. Ulysses is easily one of his best scores - I love his "student marching band" arrangement of Dies Irae. It's truly and odd score if there ever was one.

This feature will be greatly appreciated and much needed.
I hope you will cover his collaborations: with Pete Walker during the 1970s,
and with director Nicolas Roeg during the final 10 years of Myers' life.
Other '80s collaborators with Myers include Stephen Frears, Nico Mastorakis, Jerzy Skolimowski, & John Hough.
I also hope you will make special mention of "Tam Lin", or "The Ballad Of Tam Lin", which is my favorite unreleased score by Myers.

 
 Posted:   Apr 18, 2010 - 9:06 AM   
 By:   ToneRow   (Member)

I'm not that familiar with Myers, though I've been meaning (for ever) to get a copy of the Martian Chronicles. At a guess, I'd say he's more well known for this than anything else.

Although Stanley Myers soundtracks were never bountiful, there were probably more of them on LP between 1966 and 1987 than there are CDs of his works available in print now.
In addition to the first 4 from the '60s I've mentioned in my article above, I got his "The Raging Moon" on EMI's LP from 1971, "Lady Chatterly's Lover" from 1981, 1984's "Blind Date", "Castaway" from '86, & "Prick Up Your Ears" from 1987.
His joint score with Hans Zimmer for "Paperhouse" was also released at the time.
"The Martian Chronicles" is quite memorable. Many of the films Myers scored are on home video, so if you are so inclined, check out "Ulysses", "No Way To Treat A Lady", "The Night Of The Following Day", "Conduct Unbecoming", "House of Mortal Sin/The Confessional", "Schizo", "Absolution", "The Watcher In The Woods", "Incubus", "Eureka", "The Wind", or "The Witches", plus many others...

 
 Posted:   Apr 18, 2010 - 9:32 AM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)

I remember seeing a 'Ulysses' album back in the 1970s. Was there a picture of Milo O'Shea on the cover? I didn't pick it up to my regret.

 
 Posted:   Apr 18, 2010 - 9:37 AM   
 By:   ToneRow   (Member)

I remember seeing a 'Ulysses' album back in the 1970s in a Scottish record shop. Was there a picture of Milo O'Shea on the cover? I didn't pick it up to my regret.

On the reverse side, yes, there are 4 photos of Milo O'Shea as Leopold Bloom, with additional photos of Barbara Jefford as Molly and Maurice Roeves as Stephen Dedalus.
The front cover, however, is a black & white illustration of the title "Ulysses" against an all blue background.

 
 Posted:   Apr 18, 2010 - 1:36 PM   
 By:   First Breath   (Member)

I'm not that familiar with Myers, though I've been meaning (for ever) to get a copy of the Martian Chronicles. At a guess, I'd say he's more well known for this than anything else.

Although Stanley Myers soundtracks were never bountiful, there were probably more of them on LP between 1966 and 1987 than there are CDs of his works available in print now.
In addition to the first 4 from the '60s I've mentioned in my article above, I got his "The Raging Moon" on EMI's LP from 1971, "Lady Chatterly's Lover" from 1981, 1984's "Blind Date", "Castaway" from '86, & "Prick Up Your Ears" from 1987.
His joint score with Hans Zimmer for "Paperhouse" was also released at the time.
"The Martian Chronicles" is quite memorable. Many of the films Myers scored are on home video, so if you are so inclined, check out "Ulysses", "No Way To Treat A Lady", "The Night Of The Following Day", "Conduct Unbecoming", "House of Mortal Sin/The Confessional", "Schizo", "Absolution", "The Watcher In The Woods", "Incubus", "Eureka", "The Wind", or "The Witches", plus many others...


Also, ZTT Records released Insignificance by Myers/Zimmer (plus songs) on LP in 1985.

 
 Posted:   Apr 18, 2010 - 9:53 PM   
 By:   ToneRow   (Member)


Also, ZTT Records released Insignificance by Myers/Zimmer (plus songs) on LP in 1985.


True. Missed out on getting that "Insignificance" soundtrack when it was released. I owned the film on DVD first, and afterwards located a used copy of this LP...

 
 Posted:   Apr 7, 2013 - 4:01 PM   
 By:   ToneRow   (Member)

I remember seeing a 'Ulysses' album back in the 1970s. Was there a picture of Milo O'Shea on the cover? I didn't pick it up to my regret.

Here's some scans I located online of the LP.



 
 Posted:   Jul 1, 2013 - 4:08 PM   
 By:   ToneRow   (Member)

*bump*

... finally, large scans have been made of this RCA Victor LP!

(updated the images in the post above)

 
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