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 Posted:   Aug 30, 2014 - 10:22 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

Goldsmith is not my favorite, but I must own 20 or 25 of his scores. I am always impressed not only by the stylistic range, but also his lack of reliance on any signature devices that allow a listener to easily identify an artist.

I should add that are vast swaths of his output of which I am totally ignorant.

What do you think?

 
 Posted:   Aug 30, 2014 - 10:44 AM   
 By:   Shaun Rutherford   (Member)

Yes.

Upon reflection, there are actually quite a number of versatile composers, even now. Thomas Newman can do urban grit, grand, sweeping melodies and stylish action music. Same with James Newton Howard, despite the fact that I think he's seen better days. Morricone in the 60s and 70s was also incredibly versatile, as was Goldsmith.

But Goldsmith was just hands down (for me) the most consistently "on" composer, especially given the subpar material he was working with most of the time.

 
 Posted:   Aug 30, 2014 - 10:52 AM   
 By:   SchiffyM   (Member)

Goldsmith was a wonderfully versatile composer. But more so than all others? No, I wouldn't be so quick to say that. Many composers are quite versatile. (Others are not.) I think that since Goldsmith never got famous for any one score, he was never identified as having any one style (though of course we fans can hear his signatures everywhere).

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 30, 2014 - 11:08 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

Based on the scores I own, I hear far fewer across-the-board signatures than I do with other composers. I hear subtle signatures within certain genres. Again, based on those I own & listen to.

 
 Posted:   Aug 30, 2014 - 11:18 AM   
 By:   johnbijl   (Member)

No.

Elmer Bernstein was.

 
 Posted:   Aug 30, 2014 - 11:19 AM   
 By:   Stephen Woolston   (Member)

I don't know if he was, but he's certainly one of the strongest contenders.

I think John Williams warrants being called the greatest film composer.

John Barry is my favourite film composer.

Bernard Herrmann is, for me, the most legendary film composer.

and Jerry Goldsmith was the most brilliant film composer.

I always felt that Goldsmith was the greatest genius of all the film composers. His mastery of music composition was both wide and deep at the same time.

Like you (the original poster), his is not my favourite music, but his mastery of the medium was amazing. He was also more prolific than most and always pushing the boundaries, to the extent that sometimes he crossed them too far.

If it sounds strange to say that the most brilliant isn't the greatest and isn't one's favourite, think of it like this: whilst Goldsmith's mastery ran widest and deepest, only Williams has achieved the greatest critical and commercial success.

I would never argue that my idol, John Barry, was technically better than Goldsmith or Williams. In fact, I think it's not unreasonable to say that Barry's composition technique was more elementary than Goldsmith's and Williams'; and it's also fair to say that Barry, at least in his later years, stayed within a relative safe range.

But no one—no one—was greater at writing music that could get under an audience's skin. That's what his genius was. It wasn't in the completeness of his composition technique, it was in his uncanny knack to write themes and textures that cinema audiences fall in love with. That's why I think Barry, in his heyday, was one of the most popular composers and scored enormous critical and commercial hits with scores like "Out of Africa", "Somewhere In Time" and "Dances With Wolves".

Cheers

 
 Posted:   Aug 30, 2014 - 11:20 AM   
 By:   SchiffyM   (Member)

Being "on" and being versatile are not the same thing (though of course, they are both to be admired).

Don't get me wrong, I'm a Goldsmith fanatic. And I'm not knocking any composer for having signature styles -- this is what keeps us coming back to them. It's not the slightest disrespect to Goldsmith when I listen to "Night Crossing" (as I did yesterday) and hear "Capricorn One" and "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" and others throughout. I love all three!

I think that when a composer like John Williams gets super-famous for his "Star Wars"/"Superman" scores, people take that for what he does, and so scores like "Cinderella Liberty," "Rosewood," "Amistad," "The Missouri Breaks," "Sleepers," and literally dozens of others are considered the exceptions, rather than proof of his versatility. Christopher Young got pegged as a go-to guy for horror scores, so his versatility is neglected. Danny Elfman's scores vary wildly, from "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" to "Midnight Run" to "Batman" to "Wisdom," but nobody comments much on his versatility.

None of which is meant to say "Goldsmith's versatility is no big deal." Again, I have hundreds of his CDs. My only point is the word "most" is not one I'd jump to. I think that simply because Goldsmith, for whatever reason, never got well known for any one score or genre, his versatility seems like rule and not exception.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 30, 2014 - 11:20 AM   
 By:   captain_avis   (Member)

I don't know if you can objectively tag any one particular film composer as "best" or "most versatile". Goldsmith is certainly in the running for that title though and would be my pick. Part of the reason for that is that I think his style evolved over the course of his career more than many other composers, giving a range of sounds even for similar movies scored decades apart. If you listen to his work chronologically though, there are noticeable similarities, particularly in the last decade of his career.

Chris

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 30, 2014 - 11:28 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

I don't know if you can objectively tag any one particular film composer as "best" or "most versatile". Goldsmith is certainly in the running for that title though and would be my pick. Part of the reason for that is that I think his style evolved over the course of his career more than many other composers, giving a range of sounds even for similar movies scored decades apart. If you listen to his work chronologically though, there are noticeable similarities, particularly in the last decade of his career.

Chris


I know only his 60s & 70s stuff, plus I avoid blockbusters. I hear extraordinary range and depth just in those decades. I would never guess, for example, that Chinatown was Goldmith. Herrmann, Mancini, Baxter, always manage to sound like themselves despite their respective versatility.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 30, 2014 - 11:32 AM   
 By:   zooba   (Member)

I think so!

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 30, 2014 - 12:14 PM   
 By:   JC   (Member)

Maybe Goldsmith was the most versatile composer from the US but he certainly wasn't the most versatile composer for film music of all times. Morricone's work is much more versatile as he composed a lot of music for quite strange low-budget films and he often used very unusual approaches to the topics depicted in those films. I guess that a lot of the maestro's music had never been accepted by American film producers. In Italy he had and still has much more freedom in creating music than any composer in the US.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 30, 2014 - 12:34 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

Morricone's work is much more versatile as he composed a lot of music for quite strange low-budget films and he often used very unusual approaches to the topics depicted in those films.

Maybe I was not clear in my original post, or maybe we are defining "versatility" differently. My question regarding Goldsmith encompasses both range and depth, but also his ability to sound like a completely different composer from one film to another, more so than any other I listen to. Perhaps Toru Takemitsu is in this category, but his work is not readily available in the US.

Morricone is probably my favorite film composer ever, and I must own 100 of his scores, but despite his range, he always sounds like Morricone to me. Or Nicolai. Goldsmith has a superhuman ability to hide his musical identity. At least in the 25 or so albums that I own.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 30, 2014 - 1:07 PM   
 By:   Kev McGann   (Member)

VERSATILE = able to adapt or be adapted to many different functions or activities.
synonyms: adaptable, flexible, all-round, multifaceted, multitalented, many-sided, resourceful, protean
------------------------------------
Schiffy makes a very good point. Goldsmith didn't SING any characters for films he scored.
He also didn't pen clever and wonderful lyrics to go along with his themes and motifs for their films, in addition to their wild and inventive scores.
Doesn't that make him LESS versatile than Danny Elfman?

 
 Posted:   Aug 30, 2014 - 1:10 PM   
 By:   PhiladelphiaSon   (Member)

Goldsmith is by far the most versatile film composer, in my opinion.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 30, 2014 - 2:00 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

There are times, especially during his action music, that I can spot a Goldsmith signature style, and that is okay. Most composers as do all real artists have their signature styles.

I think the question is how one defines “versatility.” For me it means that if I am a director, I can use a specific composer for any genre, and this composer will be able to compose original music for these various genres.

Genres: westerns, science fiction, drama, romantic, action, animated, horror, sports, and historical. These are a few, and I can name many Goldsmith scores that were perfectly married to the above genres. I struggled a bit with historical, thinking mainly of his World War I and II scores, but then I remembered Masada.

I think he was immensely versatile as were some other composers like Alfred Newman, Elmer Bernstein, and I'm sure a few others.

 
 Posted:   Aug 30, 2014 - 3:56 PM   
 By:   Shaun Rutherford   (Member)

My point about Goldsmith being the most consistently "on" was separate from the versatile point.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 30, 2014 - 4:43 PM   
 By:   Nicholas_DW   (Member)

It depends on who you ask.

To me, yes. Yes he was.

 
 Posted:   Aug 30, 2014 - 6:00 PM   
 By:   The Beach Bum   (Member)

A Patch Of Blue, The Trouble With Angels, Planet Of The Apes, The Last Run, Chinatown, The Omen, MacArthur, The Secret Of NIMH, Runaway, Six Degrees Of Separation -- you wouldn't even think the same person wrote those scores. So yeah, Goldsmith is the most versatile.

But Maurice Jarre runs a close second!

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 30, 2014 - 6:31 PM   
 By:   Dan Hobgood   (Member)

Most versatile film composer???

Jerry was the most versatile anything composer (I've ever heard, anyway).

Dan

 
 Posted:   Aug 30, 2014 - 6:51 PM   
 By:   Khan   (Member)

Most versatile film composer???

Jerry was the most versatile anything composer (I've ever heard, anyway).

Dan


You need to expand your horizons then.

 
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