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 Posted:   Sep 7, 2019 - 5:21 AM   
 By:   Graham Watt   (Member)

This idea came into my head when I was listening to the Adriano-conducted JANE EYRE, the Herrmann score. However, I'm not really focussing here on re-recordings but rather on the conductors who worked for the major studios as musical directors - Ray Heindorf at Warner, Alfred Newman at Fox etc. Newman may be the exception in that it has been said that he gave the studio the inimitable "Newman string sound". But can people really tell when it's Newman or Heindorf (or Bakaleinikoff or whoever) conducting other composers' scores?

One or two specific examples spring to mind. I was going to mention Johnny Green conducting part of Rózsa's PLYMOUTH ADVENTURE, but I've just checked the FSM CD and I seem to be wrong about that. What film am I thinking of?

Here's one I'm sure about - Hugo Friedhofer's magnificent ABOVE AND BEYOND (1952) was conducted by a young André Previn. Would any of you know that it was Previn conducting "if you didn't know it was Previn conducting"? Another of my Top 5 Friedhofer scores is BROKEN ARROW. Fantastic score, conducted by Alfred Newman. All I hear is Friedhofer, but you tell me if I have to develop my sensibilites further.

There are countless examples, but I'll finish on a controversial note, just to provoke a response - I was just listening to one of my all-time favourite Jerry Goldsmith scores again, THE ILLUSTRATED MAN. That's a masterpiece of scoring. But would it have sounded any different if it hadn't been conducted by Lionel Newman? Let's pick an extreme substitute... Say it had been conducted by some talentless nobody such as Samuel Matlovsky, whose only claim to "fame" was having provided the original Star Trek with its only truly terrible score. If Samuel Matlovsky had conducted THE ILLUSTRATED MAN, would anybody really have noticed the difference?

And if the answer is no, nobody would have noticed, then what's the point of a conductor?

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 7, 2019 - 9:09 AM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

Graham, glad you landed your spaceship and posted this. I wish I had some answers, but I'm not an expert on conductors. All I really know is that Alfred Newman has been hailed time and again as being an excellent conductor who had a perfect ear and wanted very precise playing from various orchestras.

I look forward to reading better responses from our more learned members. Great topic.

 
 Posted:   Sep 7, 2019 - 9:23 AM   
 By:   Basil Wrathbone   (Member)

The best answer to your question might come from John Mauceri's fine and very enjoyable book about his great experience with this very subject. With references to classical and film music, it should provide you with all the answers you're looking for – and a lot more. A good read from a musician who has played a big part in film music re-recordings.

https://www.amazon.com/Maestros-Their-Music-Alchemy-Conducting/dp/1101973609/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 
 Posted:   Sep 7, 2019 - 10:49 AM   
 By:   Essankay   (Member)

https://www.amazon.com/Maestros-Their-Music-Alchemy-Conducting/dp/1101973609/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=


Excellent tip, Basil. I was unaware of this. Thank you!

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 7, 2019 - 11:50 AM   
 By:   Paul MacLean   (Member)

When it comes to recording music for a film, conductors don't have the same expressive freedom they would in a concert, or non-soundtrack recording.

Any given film score would be recorded at the same tempo no matter who conducted it, since the music was written to fit exact timings.

Also, even if the composer is not conducting, he is 99% of the time present at the session, usually in the booth, and supervising the conductor's work. Later the composer presides of the final music mix.

That said, a conductor still can, within those parameters, bring an expressive interpretation to the music. For instance, John Corigliano is a capable conductor (and often conducts the student orchestra at Lehman College where he teaches) but has preferred to hire professional conductors to record his film scores (Esa-Pekka Salonen, Leonard Slatkin, etc.).

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 7, 2019 - 12:06 PM   
 By:   Marcato   (Member)

yes - but is does not show in their conducting style - you can hear it in the music but it is a result of how they tell musicians to perform the music



John Barry is known for having a high energý level though his music

and he can change the level of energy during his music


you can hear a full energi blown in DAWN RAID

and you can hear partial energy in THE BOMB (angelo's Death scene)


you can altso hear in this clip how energy goes from one level to a new level creating more tension

it happens at 1:59 and goes on untel the full blown energy that was was the only part from these scenes released on the OST IN 1990




usually his music is tension builded in the orchestration but that tension is nothing if it is not perfomed right

and in order to be perfomed right the conductor has to tell the ochestra what to do - not just swing his baton

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 7, 2019 - 12:38 PM   
 By:   Kev McGann   (Member)

Hello Graham,
Kev can't come to his tablet right now, but let me tell you, whenever he drags me to a film music concert or makes me watch Jerry Zimmer or Lee Horner in concert on the telly, I often tell him that the fella waving the stick is a waste of space and none of the orchestra are even looking at him, cos they're too busy playing their instruments or reading the music placed in front of them.
I don't think he should even get paid, cos he's kidding everyone in the room. Fraud, I shout, and Kev just looks at me..disdainfully...and shakes his head...disdainfully.
I prefer the ones who shout Tickets!! At least they serve a purpose.

 
 Posted:   Sep 7, 2019 - 1:24 PM   
 By:   johnonymous86   (Member)

I feel like, in a film score setting, the conductors who also work as arrangers or orchestrators (like Nicholas Dodd with David Arnold) for the score have more of an impact than just the conductors. The music is being performed for the first time and it's more about, as some have said, playing to the film than playing with any sort of personality. Which is not to say that film scores don't have personality--just that conductors have less of an impact than the composers or orchestrators.

But I also know that some conductors are very strict and like to keep things very professional. They will require many takes if the musicians are not performing at their best. This might make a recording performance more stilted or dry as opposed to a conductor who is friendly and jocular with the musicians, in which case the performance might be more exciting but less precise.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 7, 2019 - 3:01 PM   
 By:   Graham Watt   (Member)

Thanks for all the responses to this so far.

Yes joan, our learned members have chipped in, even Kev McG. Priceless he is.

Thanks Razzle (Bathbone) for that link to the book by John Mauceri. Even the blurb is enlightening, and there's a full chapter to read free online. Great stuff. I love all the "understanding the composer but putting one's own mark on it" stuff. It reminds me of what some (language) translator friends of mine have said when it comes to translating Spanish to English literature and vice-versa.

I do agree with Paul, that conductors don't have the same expressive freedom when conducting the original score at the time, compared to re-recordings prepared some time after the film release, either by the original composer himself or by a completely different conductor/orchestra.

Marcato's observations about John Barry's instructions to the orchestra are interesting too. So it's not just how you wave your pencil (hear that, Kev?)

I might have missed one or two posts when scribbling (if one can "scribble" on a spaceship's HAL device - it's so old-fashioned and clumsy it could be the year 2001 instead of 2019), but I value all your input.

One thing, just to keep the thread more or less on track. I'll go back to my original question, with apologies for simplifying a complex matter. Or perhaps it's not so complex at all... Would any of you people here be able to tell that Friedhofer's ABOVE AND BEYOND was conducted by André Previn? And that the same composer's BROKEN ARROW was conducted by Alfred Newman? And how my favourite Jerry Goldsmith score (THE ILLUSTRATED MAN) might have sounded had it been conducted by some talentless nobody such as James Last or "Samuel Matlovsky" (why do I always pick on that poor chap?) instead of Lionel Newman?

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 7, 2019 - 4:32 PM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

Perhaps the genre of musicals and comparing Heindorf's movie vs. cast album conductor's "style" would provide a clue. Off the top of my head I'm thinking The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees and 1776 that seemed to have much of the same stage arrangements. Just bigger orchestras for the film. Think The Music Man particularly in that regard although he employed different arrangements for the film.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 7, 2019 - 4:34 PM   
 By:   Kev McGann   (Member)

"hear that Kev"
----------------
????
What's she been saying now?

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 7, 2019 - 4:36 PM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

Phew! Thank you for citing that. I picked up on it and was confused. Thought maybe you had gone off your meds.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 7, 2019 - 6:57 PM   
 By:   TacktheCobbler   (Member)

One or two specific examples spring to mind. I was going to mention Johnny Green conducting part of Rózsa's PLYMOUTH ADVENTURE, but I've just checked the FSM CD and I seem to be wrong about that. What film am I thinking of?

The Rózsa score you’re thinking of that Green partially conducted is Knights of the Round Table.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 8, 2019 - 2:58 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Verbal instructions to the orchestra between takes are one thing, but I don't know if it's that easy to HEAR a conductor's style on an album, especially not in film music with its strict parameters (as previously noted).

It's far easier to recognize styles in classical music -- both visual in how they move, and what they bring to the table in terms of interpretations. People like Bernstein, Karajan, Solti, Abbbado, Celibidache and so on had a very idiosyncratic presence on the podium that ranged from minimal to maximal movements.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 8, 2019 - 9:39 AM   
 By:   Marcato   (Member)

Verbal instructions to the orchestra between takes are one thing, but I don't know if it's that easy to HEAR a conductor's style on an album, especially not in film music with its strict parameters (as previously noted).

It's far easier to recognize styles in classical music -- both visual in how they move, and what they bring to the table in terms of interpretations. People like Bernstein, Karajan, Solti, Abbbado, Celibidache and so on had a very idiosyncratic presence on the podium that ranged from minimal to maximal movements.




You can clearly hear if there has been instructions or not

Nic Raine's BOND BACK IN ACTION volume 1 has quite a lack of that - and if not, then it just has a lot of bad arrangement in that volume - pick your choose

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 8, 2019 - 10:20 AM   
 By:   Graham Watt   (Member)

I think the general consensus so far is that - in the scores as recorded for the films at least - that it's virtually impossible to distinguish one conductor from another. So let me do a little summary, going back to my first post and asking you all a direct question -

Hugo Friedhofer's ABOVE AND BEYOND was conducted by André Previn.

Friedhofer's BROKEN ARROW was conducted by Alfred Newman.

Part of Miklós Rózsa's KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE (thanks Tack - that's the one I meant) was conducted by Johnny Green.

There must be a billion more examples, but these will do. Is there anyone here on this board - or on this planet - who could identify the people at the podium in these cases as being Previn, Newman and Green? And if the answer is that nobody can tell the difference, then what's the point of getting a Previn or a Newman or a Green, when a Bakaleinikoff, a Heindorf or a Joseph Bloggs would have done the job just as adequately? Is it often (mostly) just a case of who's on the studio's music staff? Perhaps that was indeed the case in the "old studio days".

Oh, I forgot my prime example. Time to mention it again. I've been playing Jerry Goldsmith's THE ILLUSTRATED MAN to death recently. It's so brilliant, so tightly performed, it's just one heck of a score. I know that Lionel Newman was familiar with Goldsmith's music, so that must have helped. But I'm actually quite surprised that the Samuel Matlovsky fans (there must be one) have not taken me to task for singling him out as being the least talented "musician-composer-conductor" I've ever heard, and therefore the one person who would probably have made a complete mess of conducting the Goldsmith masterpiece.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 8, 2019 - 11:15 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

You can clearly hear if there has been instructions or not

Yes, that's what I just said. But that's something other than a conducting style, which is more about movements on the podium. The latter is almost impossible to discern when you play an album, especially film music.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 8, 2019 - 11:40 AM   
 By:   TheFamousEccles   (Member)

Oh, I forgot my prime example. Time to mention it again. I've been playing Jerry Goldsmith's THE ILLUSTRATED MAN to death recently. It's so brilliant, so tightly performed, it's just one heck of a score. I know that Lionel Newman was familiar with Goldsmith's music, so that must have helped. But I'm actually quite surprised that the Samuel Matlovsky fans (there must be one) have not taken me to task for singling him out as being the least talented "musician-composer-conductor" I've ever heard, and therefore the one person who would probably have made a complete mess of conducting the Goldsmith masterpiece.

All right, well, I guess I have to step up to the plate here for just a moment.

Unless I'm missing something, Graham, or I've forgotten some huge revelation in the FSM liner notes (which I've not read in a while), didn't Samuel Matlovsky conduct "The Illustrated Man" sessions? In addition to the official credit, I also vaguely recall Lukas Kendall saying he had talked to Matlovsky about it years ago, and that Matlovsky said he conducted the score as a favor to Goldsmith (partially because he owed Goldsmith some money, I think?). Please do let me know if I'm wrong, and have forgotten some key bit of information about this.

Second, just for a bit of additional background, Matlovsky was actually quite an accomplished, well-regarded conductor/musical director in the Broadway & Off-Broadway world for many years. One need only listen to his tight, acerbic musical direction of the Off-Broadway production of "The Threepenny Opera" (preserved on the wonderful cast album with Lotte Lenya & Bea Arthur, among others), which captures the tense, precise grittiness of Kurt Weill & his orchestrations to a tee. And it's this sort of connection where I think his score to "I, Mudd" makes more sense (I think I am actually the only person who likes that score) -- it's very Weillian in its perverse modernism & bizarre eclecticism. And actually, one of the most fun "accidental double listening bills" I ever had was "I, Mudd" and Elfers's "Funeral in Berlin", both of which owe a debt to Weill, I think.

Anyway, this is just a long way of saying that I think Matlovsky was indeed a gifted musician & conductor, but perhaps film & television may not have been the ideal vehicle or use for his talents.

This doesn't at all answer your more global question about conductors, but since you were wondering why no one's mentioned Matlovsky yet -- or the fact that unless I've forgotten something, I'm pretty sure he conducted "The Illustrated Man" -- I figure I'd take up the cause, such as it is. Go figure.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 8, 2019 - 12:27 PM   
 By:   Graham Watt   (Member)

Ha! Well done Eccles! No wonder you're Famous - You're the only one who got the joke! 572 views (admittedly half of them mine) and nobody took the bait until now. I imagine the majority of people are waiting until Monday so that they can use the Internet during working hours.

I like Samuel Matlovsky too. You're right, his Kurt Weillisms worked their way into Star Trek's "I, Mudd" to great effect. I enjoy the off-balance humour in the music for that episode. I also did a thread (I think) about his great score for the Curtis Harrington-directed GAMES, a good 1967 thriller starring James Caan and Katharine Ross. The Main Title used to be up on YouTube, but I think it's gone now.

Anyway, my "point" behind all that admittedly annoying "ILLUSTRATED MAN -Lionel Newman - Samuel Matlovsky" farce was that I was attempting to "prove" what I suspected - that it's impossible to identify specific conductors for scores recorded for the films themselves at the time.

The above statement shall hold true until someone claims to be able to hear Previn, Newman and Johnny Green in the other scores I mentioned.

It's been an interesting discussion and I've enjoyed the input. It doesn't have to end here of course, but for the meantime thanks for your patience, and apologies for my silliness.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 8, 2019 - 12:33 PM   
 By:   Nono   (Member)

Yes, that's what I just said. But that's something other than a conducting style, which is more about movements on the podium. The latter is almost impossible to discern when you play an album, especially film music.

I may misunderstand your comment, but we can recognize many conductors just by hearing them, Toscanini doesn't sound like Furtwangler who doesn't sound like Klemperer who doesn't sound like Bohm who doesn't sound like Karajan etc.

As far as film music is concerned it's more difficult, for many reasons written here (and the click track hasn't been mentioned), but more importantly because we just can't make comparisons, and if you can' t compare the same cue conducted by different conductors, with different orchestras, all trying to match the action on screen, I don't know how we could recognize the imprint of the conductor.

But all conductors certainly have their differences, even if they have minimal freedom.

 
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