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Whose Life Is It Anyway? (1981)
Music by Arthur B. Rubinstein
Whose Life Is It Anyway? Whose Life Is It Anyway?
Click to enlarge images.
Price: $16.95
Limited #: 2000
View CD Page at SAE Store
Line: Silver Age
CD Release: May 2009
Catalog #: Vol. 12, No. 11
# of Discs: 1

The collaboration between director John Badham and composer Arthur B. Rubinstein has yielded such excellent scores as Blue Thunder (1983), WarGames (1983), Stakeout (1987) and The Hard Way (1991). FSM proudly presents their first feature collaboration, Whose Life Is It Anyway? (1981), in which Rubinstein makes expert—and affecting—use of Baroque styles to elevate Badham's superior adaptation of the stage play by Brian Clark.

Whose Life Is It Anyway? stars Richard Dreyfuss as a dynamic artist, Ken Harrison, who is paralyzed in an auto accident. Feeling his life is over without the ability to pursue his art, he goes to court for the right to die. John Cassavetes, Christine Lahti and Janet Eilber costar in this acclaimed film adaptation.

Despite the stagebound origins—and potentially downbeat subject matter—Rubinstein wrote a lively symphonic score bristling with energy. “Because the film is about life, I knew the score must reflect that,” Rubinstein says in the CD liner notes. “The music starts upbeat and it ends upbeat. In my own sort of strange dissecting of what the film was about, it was clear to me that it was about the life force, and Ken’s life force was sculpting. The intellectual side of my pea brain led me to Baroque music—Bach. Bach is, for me, the essence of structure, architecture, sculpture. His music is the embodiment of the life force.”

The concept decided upon, Rubinstein crafted a unique sound palette (eliminating flutes, clarinets and violins) and wrote in a variety of classical forms—passacaglia, gavotte, bourée and many others. But his adherence to these styles never gets in way of the music’s essential feeling or its sensitive support of the movie’s expertly crafted drama. The film was Rubinstein’s first major feature (he had scored television and smaller films beforehand) and it is easy to see how he would become so successful in the field—the score is not only terrific in and of itself as music, but is carefully designed (theatrically, emotionally, intellectually) to support a thoughtfully intimate story.  

This premiere release of the complete score to Whose Life Is It Anyway? is presented in excellent stereo sound, with liner notes by Jeff Bond and Alexander Kaplan incorporating new comments by Rubinstein, who has graciously assisted with the production. 

Arthur B. Rubinstein Scores on FSM
About the Composer

Arthur B. Rubinstein (b. 1938) made a splash in the 1980s with dynamic scores to several films directed by John Badham, including Whose Life Is It Anyway?, Blue Thunder, WarGames, Stakeout and The Hard Way. His extensive work for television includes many acclaimed TV-movie scores and the spy series Scarecrow and Mrs. King—one of the best-remembered symphonic main titles of the era. IMDB

Comments (8):Log in or register to post your own comments
I'm not sure I'd have labled this SILVER AGE. Maybe it's time for a new time-linear appelation.

Hey, could someone fill me in as to what FSM1207 is? Either I missed it or it hasn't been announced yet - I'm not sure which.

FSM1206 Dr Kildare by Jerry Goldsmith, et al
FSM1207 ???
FSM1208 Captain Nemo and the Underwater City by Wally Stott AKA Angela Morley
FSM1209 The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Dave Grusin
FSM1210 The Thief Who Came to Dinner by Henry Mancini
FSM1211 Whose Life is it Anyway? by Arthur B. Rubinstein

Hey, could someone fill me in as to what FSM1207 is? Either I missed it or it hasn't been announced yet - I'm not sure which.

FSM1206 Dr Kildare by Jerry Goldsmith, et al
FSM1207 ???
FSM1208 Captain Nemo and the Underwater City by Wally Stott AKA Angela Morley
FSM1209 The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Dave Grusin
FSM1210 The Thief Who Came to Dinner by Henry Mancini
FSM1211 Whose Life is it Anyway? by Arthur B. Rubinstein

It's Twilight Zone: The Movie:

It's Twilight Zone: The Movie

Thanks! I didn't miss it. Actually I just received it.

Now that our new board design is in place -- please click on "FSM CDs" up top on the menu bars and you'll see the FSM CD display pages which allow you to sort and search the titles more thoroughly than the SAE site (for now). Thanks!


Lukas and company, I can barely express how much I appreciate this release, for two reasons, one musical, one not.

Arthur B. Rubinstein is for me one of the finest composers working in television and film in the past 40 years. And this is one of his superb works - for its extraordinary craft and wit and just plain musical interest, and also for elevating the film and giving it distinctive life. If you have any fond memory of the film, or if the samples have intrigued you at all, please give it a chance - it is as fine a score as you will hear this year.

I distinctly remember seeing the film in the winter of 1981, when I was a nursing home aide caring for paralyzed residents (among many others). Hearing just the first bars of the Main Title I am back in the theater opening night. The music also takes me back to the bedroom of a recent quadriplegic. The black and white TV on the dresser was on, and as I made the bed, Richard Dreyfuss (on Phil Donahue) was talking about the film and the importance of individual choice. Everything he said carried a special resonance for me as I compared this patient's life to the sculptor's in the film. These memories are both precious and painful, and watching the film again last weekend in anticipation of receiving my copy, I found that no movie can hold up under that weight of memory.

But the music does.

Thank you Mr. Rubinstein, and thank you FSM.

Lukas... can we get 600x600 artwork on some of these older titles, please--whenever you have time, that is?

P.S. Love this CD! Thanks, Neil. :)

My wife loved this movie, insisted I see it with her, but cautioned it
was pretty heavy business. She was right, but it's very much worth
a view, and the score is terrific. Very 'heady' stuff, pitting the baroque
against the drama, makes me pine for the days when things were done
differently - now, we'd get faux-Thomas Newman string/piano pinklings,
and the movie would sink like a Lifetime channel rock.....

I was really surprised how much went unused in the film - it's why these FSM
discs are total gems - there always seems to be so much left out, and the only
chance for our beloved composers to get any validation, is for us to support
these releases!

Track List
Click on each musician name for more credits

Leader (Conductor):
Arthur B. Rubinstein

Denyse N. Buffum, Alan B. DeVeritch, Pamela Goldsmith, Gail Guarneri (Earn), Myra Kestenbaum, Seymour Rubinstein, Joel Soultanian, Linn Subotnick, Herschel P. Wise

Selene Depuy-Hurford, Christine Ermacoff, Judith M. Johnson (Perett), Jerome Kessler, Jacqueline Lustgarten, Nils Oliver, Daniel Rothmuller, Linda Mehrabian Sanfilippo, Frederick R. Seykora, Christina T. Soule

Jim Hackman, Milton E. "Mickey" Nadel, Meyer (Mike) Rubin, Robert King Stone, David Henry Young

Don Ashworth, Phil Ayling, William Criss, Earle D. Dumler

Ronald A. Jannelli, Jack Marsh, John J. Mitchell, David Riddles, Bob Tricarico

French Horn:
James A. Decker, Arthur Maebe, Jr., Richard E. Perissi, Calvin L. Smith

Rick Baptist, Warren H. Luening, Jr., Malcolm Boyd McNab, Graham Young

Richard "Dick" Nash, Thomas Shepard

Donald G. Waldrop

John D. Berkman, Zita Carno

Gayle Levant, Lou Ann Neill

Thomas D. Raney, Mark Z. Stevens, Kenneth E. Watson

Bill Brown, Arthur B. Rubinstein

Orchestra Manager:
Harry W. Lojewski

Dominic John Fidelibus, Robert G. Hartley, Harry W. Lojewski, Ray Mace, Donald J. Midgley

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