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 Posted:   Oct 20, 2013 - 5:25 PM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

I'm about to research a 95 minute lecture in Music Appreciation which I'm presenting in about March, 2014. Our group usually doesn't cover film music but I have sufficient reputation to present this and get away with it!! It is to be about Bernard Herrmann and I'm wanting to compare him to composers of the same calibre. As I cannot discuss every composer I want to select only 2 or 3.

Can anybody recommend who those 2 or 3 should be, any particular scores and where I might find access to these please? Any or all help possible would be greatly appreciated.

 
 Posted:   Oct 20, 2013 - 5:39 PM   
 By:   jeremy_johnson_7   (Member)

I'm about to research a 95 minute lecture in Music Appreciation which I'm presenting in about March, 2014. Our group usually doesn't cover film music but I have the cache to present this and get away with it!! It is to be about Bernard Herrmann and I'm wanting to compare him to composers of the same calibre. As I cannot discuss every composer I want to select only 2 or 3.

Can anybody recommend who those 2 or 3 should be, any particular scores and where I might find access to these please? Any or all help possible would be greatly appreciated.


Regie - I would recommend the following three composers and some of their prominent works that really touched me:

Jerry Goldsmith - Poltergeist, Chinatown, Papillon, Psycho II and Logan's Run

John Barry - King Kong (76), The Black Hole, Body Heat, On Her Majesty's Secret Service and Across the Sea of Time

Ennio Morricone - Once Upon A Time In the West, Once Upon A Time In America, The Thing, The Good The Bad and The Ugly and Cinema Paradiso

Now of course I haven't name the GREAT John Williams, Maurice Jarre, Miklos Roza and James Newton Howard.

 
 Posted:   Oct 20, 2013 - 5:40 PM   
 By:   jeremy_johnson_7   (Member)

Didn't mean to double post

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 20, 2013 - 5:43 PM   
 By:   Eugene Iemola   (Member)

I don't know much about film music but I wouldn't want to be caught dead comparing anyone to Bernard Herrmann.

 
 Posted:   Oct 20, 2013 - 6:04 PM   
 By:   jeremy_johnson_7   (Member)

I don't know much about film music but I wouldn't want to be caught dead comparing anyone to Bernard Herrmann.

Bernard Herrmann is the Godfather of Film Score

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 20, 2013 - 6:33 PM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

Didn't mean to double post

Thanks so much Jeremy! Morricone was one composer who came to mind.

The people in the Music Appreciation group know very little about very good film music, and in order to show how excellence is actually achieved it's very worthwhile comparing composers and to try and define those elements. How is one different, greater or lesser than the other? That's my brief.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 20, 2013 - 6:34 PM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

Agree about Benny being "The Godfather", just as Bach is "the old Testament in music". Doesn't mean we cannot compare and contrast to see HOW greatness is achieved.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 20, 2013 - 7:07 PM   
 By:   Eugene Iemola   (Member)

Agree about Benny being "The Godfather", just as Bach is "the old Testament in music". Doesn't mean we cannot compare and contrast to see HOW greatness is achieved.

With another composer's work? Really? How do you define what Herrmann achieved by comparing it with something else? You want to show Herrmann's greatness, put together a reel of some of his best work and annotate as you go along.

You could, I would argue, compare what he was doing with what was the prevailing studio style in 1940's Hollywood. He brought some very unique talents to Hollywood, and the proof of that was how the establishment couldn't give him an Oscar fast enough.

 
 Posted:   Oct 20, 2013 - 7:08 PM   
 By:   jeremy_johnson_7   (Member)

No problem Regie - I thought about the composers to name drop and of course lamented over those whom I didn't mention, like Nino Rota & Carmine Coppola who gave us the Godfather Scores; also Danny Elfman who has given us a lot of great scores over his lengthy career.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 20, 2013 - 7:31 PM   
 By:   facehugger   (Member)

There is only one composer of the same calibre as Herrmann.

And that is HANS ZIMMER!




No, seriously, only Jerry Goldsmith.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 20, 2013 - 7:46 PM   
 By:   John McMasters   (Member)

Alex North: A Streetcar Named Desire, Spartacus, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. His superb dramatic and musical instincts brought him to mind -- also his avoidance of the cliche.

Aaron Copland: Our Town, Of Mice and Men --and named also because he straddled both concert hall and cinema screens as did Herrmann.

Jerry Goldsmith: Chinatown, The Blue Max, Islands in the Stream -- and named because, like Herrmann, he began his scoring career in radio dramas. Both Herrmann and Goldsmith seemed able to transmogrify the unseen/unfelt into the seen/felt in uncanny ways.

Miklos Rozsa: Ben Hur, Madame Bovary (that waltz!), El Cid -- just for his unwavering dramatic instincts while scoring all kinds of films.

But you could also go for Morricone, Barry, Waxman, Delerue, Williams, and, of course, Steiner -- all for different reasons!

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 20, 2013 - 7:56 PM   
 By:   Eugene Iemola   (Member)

Jerry Goldsmith: Chinatown, The Blue Max, Islands in the Stream -- and named because, like Herrmann, he began his scoring career in radio dramas. Both Herrmann and Goldsmith seemed able to transmogrify the unseen/unfelt into the seen/felt in uncanny ways.

You would compare Bernard Herrmann with Jerry Goldsmith because they both started in radio?

I hope Regie's audience is a bit more sophisticated then that. I wouldn't want her to kill off Bernard Herrmann in the mind's of her audience when they're sitting there waiting to learn something about the subject, Bernard Herrmann. You might as well just say, "They're both Jewish."

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 20, 2013 - 8:46 PM   
 By:   Rexor   (Member)

I'm about to research a 95 minute lecture in Music Appreciation which I'm presenting in about March, 2014. Our group usually doesn't cover film music but I have sufficient reputation to present this and get away with it!! It is to be about Bernard Herrmann and I'm wanting to compare him to composers of the same calibre. As I cannot discuss every composer I want to select only 2 or 3.

Can anybody recommend who those 2 or 3 should be, any particular scores and where I might find access to these please? Any or all help possible would be greatly appreciated.


I would recommend Miklós Rózsa due to his "double life" as a classical composer. Herrmann and Rozsa both wrote one symphony, and several other classical works. If you browse the Rozsa forum you might be able to find more info on access to his scores. Ben-Hur is part of the "Film Score Guide" books:

http://www.amazon.com/Mikl%C3%B3s-R%C3%B3zsas-Ben-Hur-Score-Guide/dp/0810881004

Ben-Hur, Double Indemnity, Thief of Bagdad, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes... there is much to compare. Well, it should be a suspenseful lecture. Good Luck.

-Rex






 
 Posted:   Oct 20, 2013 - 9:14 PM   
 By:   Sigerson Holmes   (Member)

There are different ways to compare him to others that don't necessarily equate him with others as far as "calibre," talent or quality of music. There are others who started out composing for radio, for instance. Others who had longstanding collaborations with particular directors. Others who began composing mostly for straight drama, then later moved into the more fantastic film genres. As Rexor suggested, perhaps you could compare his ambitions in the concert hall to those of other film composers.

When did he first start working a jazz influence into his scores, as compared with other practitioners of that idiom?

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 20, 2013 - 9:15 PM   
 By:   John McMasters   (Member)

Eugene, sorry that I offended you with the comparison! I guess it did come across as simple minded -- it is late where I am posting and the brain sort of short circuits at my age when faced with the task posed by Regie. By posting in brief I left enough room in my intellectual ellipses for much criticism from others. Thank you for the corrective note.

Herrmann's radio experience molded how he approached scoring films and the psychology of scenes -- he was allowed to experiment with a dizzying variety of styles, instrumentations, and adventurous ensembles. There is a wonderful description of Herrmann during his early radio days in an article written by Lucille Fletcher -- quoted in Palmer's chapter on Herrmann, as I am sure you know. I certainly did not mean to imply that Goldsmith and Herrmann were much the same -- or even on the same level as composers.

Consider this a brain fart for which I apologize.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 20, 2013 - 9:36 PM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

Thank you all so much for these interesting ideas. I like the comments by John McMasters - that's sort of what I had in mind. I'll work through your comments one by one and come to a decision.

Comparison between Herrmann and others will require some harmonic/musical analysis, which I'm prepared to do. I'll look at the experts and it's very important to understand HOW the music functioned overall with a visual text. I want to see what others were doing - their backgrounds, films etc - and then come back to Herrmann. It will be interactive as I want the audience to answer certain questions.

As for the audience: these comprise the two retired PhDs in music education who are the course co-ordinators and fellow lecturers, and many other retired professionals - doctors, teachers, engineers, accountant, economists with quite a solid understanding of the repertoire in serious music, and some ordinary music-lovers who have little knowledge. In short, the spectrum. But they all have two things in common: intelligence and a willingness to listen!!

I knew I could rely on the FSM brains trust!!

 
 Posted:   Oct 20, 2013 - 9:41 PM   
 By:   Sigerson Holmes   (Member)

I don't know how seriously this point of comparison ought to be taken, but Benny was a famously volatile personality, and there are recordings of him chewing out the orchestra. Which film composer would be considered second-most-volatile?

 
 Posted:   Oct 20, 2013 - 10:38 PM   
 By:   Ron Hardcastle   (Member)

Way back when I was a college student in 1970, I took a wonderful Music Appreciation course taught by young Mr. William Campbell, and his own love for classical music was infectious, although I had been listening to it for over 10 years before taking the course and mainly took it for pleasure to offset other more demanding classes. (But it was not an easy class and I earned the grade I got for it.) The course focused entirely on classical music, and covered composers from the Baroque to the Classical to the late Romantic periods as well as electronic and atonality, and one night we all went to a concert with the Los Angeles Philharmonic of Ives raucous and quite explosive and even dizzying 4th symphony. The class opened my ears to the sonata form, which had been the foundation for most classical music for centuries, and even now, so many decades later, when listening to classical music I will almost unconsciously note the statement of the theme and the variations that follow it. You might want to tie your inclusion of soundtrack music into that, and show how film composers will often have one or more dominant themes and variations of it. I think that it'll be less a matter of finding 1 or 2 composers that you feel are equals to Bernard Herrmann than finding soundtracks with distinct variations of themes. Some composers stick with a single principal one and everything else is one variation after another -- Johnny Mandel's "The Sandpiper," with its song "The Shadow of Your Smile," is a good example of that, while other composers have a surfeit of different themes and seem to go out of their way to not repeat themselves. Good luck in your class!

May I make a suggestion? Your title of this post may not draw the attention you are seeking and may even keep the very people away who could help you the most, so you probably should change the title to something like USING SOUNDTRACKS TO TEACH MUSIC APPRECIATION. Just a thought. Best of luck.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 20, 2013 - 11:15 PM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. I've changed the heading of the thread.

The film composers and their use of leitmotif is something I'll discuss in the class. I wanted to compare the way 2 or 3 other film composers did this in order to show different approaches to "the problem". Most of all it's a "Benny fest" but this audience won't know much about any of it so a comparative approach will be much better, IMO. That way they have a point of reference. This will be partly, and necessarily, analytical.

Your course in the 70's obviously taught you a lot, particularly about sonata form. I have post-graduate qualifications in Musicology myself (my specialization is the baroque) but I need to simplify the lecture into easily digestible chunks (just as I used to do when teaching).

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 20, 2013 - 11:27 PM   
 By:   Eugene Iemola   (Member)

" I'm wanting to compare him to composers of the same calibre."

What's the point if it could even be done? Unless Rozsa, Goldsmith and Herrmann all scored the same film, wouldn't you expect them all to do it differently?

(FSM released a great example of this kind of thing with The Appointment scored by three very different composers writing music in their own individual voices, for the same movie and yeah, you can say what you think is the better score when you compare one to the other, but it plays badly when it all boils down to just a matter of taste.)

Bernard Herrmann made it a practice to be beyond compare.

Now that may be just my opinion, but the original premise as stated above is a shaky one, and not a good place to start from. You could, for example, examine the culture of the American music scene of the 30's and 40's (the part that championed what we now understand to be Americana and think of the likes of Thompson or Copland), with the American film music known as the Hollywood Sound and where the two intersected. Bernard Herrmann fits right in there! and ranks with composers like Virgil Thompson and Aaron Copland and Jerome Moross because of what they've done for American music, in the concert hall, for the stage and radio as well as up there on the silver screen.

But honestly, how do you make comparisons between geniuses? You have an opportunity to talk film music- don't blow it by comparing apples to oranges.



 
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