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 Posted:   Mar 5, 2014 - 5:52 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

From Wikipedia: (Yeah, I know...)

In a 1981 interview with Soundtrack magazine, Les Baxter "...claimed that he was a victim of a smear campaign by a disgruntled orchestrator which resulted in Baxter being denied the chance to score for a major picture for MGM. The film was Green Mansions (film) starring Audrey Hepburn, which MGM thought was perfect for Baxter. But according to Baxter the staff over there said 'no don't use him' and the job went instead to Baxter's friend Bronislaw Kaper, who told Baxter personally that he would have preferred that he did the score."

 
 Posted:   Mar 5, 2014 - 6:33 PM   
 By:   robertmro   (Member)

From Wikipedia: (Yeah, I know...)

In a 1981 interview with Soundtrack magazine, Les Baxter "...claimed that he was a victim of a smear campaign by a disgruntled orchestrator which resulted in Baxter being denied the chance to score for a major picture for MGM. The film was Green Mansions (film) starring Audrey Hepburn, which MGM thought was perfect for Baxter. But according to Baxter the staff over there said 'no don't use him' and the job went instead to Baxter's friend Bronislaw Kaper, who told Baxter personally that he would have preferred that he did the score."


Am I missing something?
What's wrong with Wikipedia?

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 5, 2014 - 8:45 PM   
 By:   The CinemaScope Cat   (Member)

Am I missing something?
What's wrong with Wikipedia?


Wikipedia isn't always the most trustworthy or reliable place to get information.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 5, 2014 - 11:34 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Am I missing something?
What's wrong with Wikipedia?


Wikipedia isn't always the most trustworthy or reliable place to get information.



I assume that the Wikipedia entry is reporting on an interview printed in this issue of Soundtrack.



Has Wikipedia misreported the information contained in that interview?

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 5, 2014 - 11:45 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

This seems to be the relevant portion of the Soundtrack interview, as conducted by David Kraft and Ronald Bohn:

We’re sorry to hear there has been a disgraceful rumour going around that you had some of your better scores “ghost-written” for you. Can you tell us how such a rumour could have started?

It is something believed only in Hollywood by members of the Academy’s music branch, and by some of those cliques going around in the major studios. It was very easy to pick on Les Baxter because I was a “lone wolf”, I was hired from outside the business, from records, and I was not a member of or had any friends in those cliques. And so I was under attack.

A disgruntled orchestrator, who emulated my style note for note, started spreading the rumour. He wanted more credit for himself, he wanted more jobs, and in the end he got more jobs. But the rumour, which started in a small way, gradually snowballed into a truly infamous scandal. The music departments at the major studios - the cliques - they really loved the story and for years I became the pet whipping boy in film music. If my name came up at MGM, for instance, it was always with the greatest disdain.

They delighted in dismissing me as some sort of cafe orchestra leader with a violin under one arm, his back to the musicians and smiling at the customers. And the fact that - horror of horrors - I had hit records merely aggravated the situation. Suddenly, Les Baxter is the worst of those guys not doing his own stuff… he can’t hold a pencil, he can’t write a note, he can’t read the scale, he knows nothing about music (but I had an honorary L. L. D. !).

Once, I was selected by MGM to do a big picture, GREEN MANSIONS, which they thought I was perfect for. But the staff there said, “No, no, don’t use him.” Bronie Kaper, a good friend to me over the years, had to do it and told me personally he would rather I had taken the commission.

But MGM would not give me any of their big pictures, only THE INVISIBLE BOY. I have handed out work to an orchestrator. It’s common practice even by those composers in the major studios who have criticised me and supported the rumour. In such cases I have been uniquely fair and never taken due credit away from anyone. THE BIG DOLL HOUSE is credited solely to my orchestrator Hall Daniels.

But, one cannot just hand out some cue sheets to an orchestrator, a copyist, and say, “Go away and write me the whole score for GOLIATH AND THE BARBARIANS!” If an orchestrator could do that he’d be selling himself short to ridiculous lengths. No-one in the business sounds like I do.

My friends say they can always recognize my music even though I’ve done so many styles. CRY OF THE BANSHEE, for instance, is so vastly different from MASTER OF THE WORLD. I think too I’m unique in the business in that I have orchestrated more of my scores myself than any other composer. In 1972 I worked entirely on my own and did both FROGS and BARON BLOOD single-handed. The orchestrator I’ve used most often is someone I’ve known from childhood whom I taught to orchestrate; he knows that my work is completely original. He’s never “ghost-written” for me.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 4:48 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

Thanks for sharing. So that is essentially what the Wikipedia article reports. Are those available online someplace?

I wonder who the disgruntled orchestrator is. Any guesses? I know that Nelson Riddle and Milt Bernhart said many negative things about Les Baxter.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 6:03 AM   
 By:   eriknelson   (Member)

This story about GREEN MANSIONS conflicts with what is written in the booklet accompanying the FSM CD.

The booklet says that Heitor Villa-Lobos was the studio's choice to write the score, and Villa-Lobos signed a contract to do so. Villa-Lobos arrived at the studio with a complete score having never seen a frame of the film, thinking MGM was going to film according to his music. The studio paid him off, and Kaper was given the task of incorporating some of Villa-Lobos' music into a new score. Villa-Lobos went on to write a new concert piece based on his GREEN MANSIONS music—FOREST OF THE AMAZON.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 6:32 AM   
 By:   finder4545   (Member)

I was just replying with this. I wonder where all this come from. It's general knowledge that GREEN MANSION had been assigned to Heitor Villa Lobos, and that he composed the music even before the film had been edited, refusing whatever subsequent "adaptation". Bronislau Kaper was given the task to re-shape part of the already composed music and complete the movie with his own score. The Lobos composition, expanded, later become the classic "Forest of the Amazon". I deem GREEN MANSION a great score, despite the controversies, and I think Kaper was great in handling the available material from another source. When I got the score and listened to it, I was intrigued by Villa-Lobos' implication and bought 6 discs with his music, "Forest of Amazon" and various Simphonies: nothing to do with the movie score. Almost a complete delusion. Kaper remained Kaper! So, returning to the thread: where Baxter takes place in all this?

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 6:42 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

Drum roll...

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 6:42 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

I interpret this to mean that they wanted Les Baxter to do the work that Kaper was ultimately hired to do. Album liner notes can miss details just as easily as the interwebz can.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 6:52 AM   
 By:   TerraEpon   (Member)

There IS still some Villa-Lobos in the final score (this is detailed in the booklet)....but the interview doesn't REALLY conflict. Baxter just says that Kaper 'did' the film, which he did by adapting HVL's music and writing some new music to go along with that. Who says Baxter couldn't have been the first choice to do that?

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 6:56 AM   
 By:   eriknelson   (Member)

I interpret this to mean that they wanted Les Baxter to do the work that Kaper was ultimately hired to do. Album liner notes can miss details just as easily as the interwebz can.

That's plausible. Kaper was already on staff at MGM so perhaps the bosses decided to save money. Had Baxter done the job I'm sure the results would have been interesting.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 7:50 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

It is so jarring to see pictures of Les Baxter from this period. The 1950s Capitol images are emblazoned on my psyche.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 10:44 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Thanks for sharing. So that is essentially what the Wikipedia article reports. Are those available online someplace?


I found the full interview with Baxter by following the footnotes to the Wikipedia article.

 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 10:46 AM   
 By:   Justin Boggan   (Member)

By the way, Soundtrack! magazine has a website ,where a small portions of their interviews (as well and some other stuff), can be found:

http://www.runmovies.eu

 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 3:06 PM   
 By:   ToneRow   (Member)

"No-one in the business sounds like I do."


This statement could be taken more than one way!

 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 3:09 PM   
 By:   Ron Pulliam   (Member)

Kaper had recently scored "The Swan" and "The Brothers Karamazov" for MGM and "Auntie Mame" for Warner Brothers. GREAT scores.

"Green Mansions", he knew, was rather petrified from the outset....not a real stinker, but nothing truly special.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 4:25 PM   
 By:   filmusicnow   (Member)

Thanks for sharing. So that is essentially what the Wikipedia article reports. Are those available online someplace?

I wonder who the disgruntled orchestrator is. Any guesses? I know that Nelson Riddle and Milt Bernhart said many negative things about Les Baxter.


Double post.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 4:26 PM   
 By:   filmusicnow   (Member)

Thanks for sharing. So that is essentially what the Wikipedia article reports. Are those available online someplace?

I wonder who the disgruntled orchestrator is. Any guesses? I know that Nelson Riddle and Milt Bernhart said many negative things about Les Baxter.


One was according to the biography of Nelson Riddle, when Baxter studied briefly with Mario-Castelnouvo-Tedesco, was expelled when he heard that somebody was ghostwriting Baxter's composition assignments! Gene Lees also had some negative things to say about Baxter as well.

 
 Posted:   Mar 6, 2014 - 11:00 PM   
 By:   Chris1770   (Member)

Patrick J. Kelch writes the following in an Amazon review about a four CD set with Baxter's music [emphasis by "Chris1770"]:

Quote:

Among music collectors today, Les Baxter is probably best remembered for his exotica which was an integral part of what we now call "Exotica" or "Space Age Pop." It's easy to forget that Baxter also recorded many "easy listening" albums which sometimes included a vocal choir. The advent of the long playing 12-inch record gave musicians the opportunity to record "theme" albums, and Les Baxter quickly rose to the forefront. I have purchased volumes 2 and 3 of this collection and find them highly enjoyable--if one keeps in mind the era in which and for which, they were recorded. Frequently overlooked (or completely unknown) is the fact that Baxter was just a figurehead. The fact is, he couldn't read a score. His earlier "exotica" albums were arranged by Arthur Harris, one of the really talented arrangers of the time; the Yma Sumac recordings were mostly arranged by Pete Rugolo. Noted jazz chronicler Gene Lees called Baxter 'one of the biggest four-flushers in the business' A similarly low opinion was held by Nelson Riddle who was the ghost-writer for several numbers for which Baxter took credit. The extent of Baxter's lack of musical talent was perhaps best illustrated by Andre Previn in Peter J. Levinson's book "September In the Rain: The Life of Nelson Riddle." Previn related that Baxter started attending classes being taught by Mario Tedesco, one of the most highly regarded music teachers in the counry. When Previn (who knew about Baxter's lack of musical skills) asked Tedesco how Baxter was doing, Tedesco told him it was pointless because Baxter was hiring others to do his homework assignments. But it was Nat 'King' Cole who first publicly revealed Baxter's shortcomings. At a recording session where Baxter was conducting, Cole questioned a certain section of the music--only to discover that Baxter couldn't read the score. When Cole went to Capitol producer Lee Gillette, he was told the arrangement was written by Nelson Riddle. Thus began Cole's public musical association with Nelson Riddle, who wrote some of Cole's biggest hits including "Unforgettable." His arrangement of "Mona Lisa" was Cole's biggest hit--although Baxter took credit for the it. Years later, if memory serves me correctly, the National Association of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS) corrected their records to show that this 1950 Academy Award winning song had indeed been arranged by Nelson Riddle and not by Les Baxter. All that aside, the music is well-crafted--whoever arranged it-- played by excellent musicians, and accurately reflects the mood of the day (1955 - 1957) without the kind of musical pandering engaged in by Mitch Miller and others. The sound quality is fine and the price for eight albums on four compact discs is unbeatable. And if "La Femme" by Les Baxter and Franck Purcell seems a little too lush and lovely, and "Skins!" gets more than a little tedious, remember that people probably bought these albums for the novelty of hearing lush orchestral settings and bongos on their new hi-fi equipment and to gauge the quality of those systems. Keep the proper perspective regarding the contents, and you'll probably enjoy this collection.

End Quote.

Source: http://www.amazon.com/Classic-Albums-vol-3-Les-Baxter/product-reviews/B005I4ULK2/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

 
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