Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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Farewell To A Friend

It is difficult to hear of the passing of one of your heroes. This Monday morning I signed on to be punched in the gut by the passing of somebody who played a huge role in the shaping of my musical taste. In order to explain the relevance of this to those who aren't into film music, I've likened it to the passing of one of the Beatles. The man was a titan in his field, and no emotion was beyond him, nobody could compose those yearning, long-form melodies the way he could…

…not to mention the snazziest theme music a secret agent could ever have hoped for.


( 1 9 3 3 — 2 0 1 1 )

Suite from The Lion In Winter, one of his several Oscar-winning scores, and one of my favorite LPs.

Nic Raine arrangement performed at the BBC Proms Film Music Special Conducted by Ramon Gumba
Main Title (The Lion In Winter) · Chinon – Eleanor's Arrival · We're Jungle Creatures

I kept in touch with an old teacher of mine who also liked film music. One day he sent me a whole bunch of LPs, among them was The Last Valley, a film I'd never heard of but I instantly fell in love with the score, with its blood-and-thunder and quiet, sensitive cues.

Orchestra Conducted by John Barry

Body Heat was a case where the composer redefined the sound of case film noir, but also created the sound for a new subgenre, the erotic thriller, which would bear his stamp until Jerry Goldsmith changed it to a more intellectual approach in 1991 with Basic Instinct. I was initially going to post the main theme or "Kill for Pussy" (that is an actual cue title, really), but I found this piece and felt that it highlighted one of Barry's best talents; establishing a mood for a particular location.

Orchestra Conducted by John Barry

Nicholas Roeg's beautiful film Walkabout was graced with one of Barry's most gorgeous of scores. This haunting cue incorporates the traditional nursery rhyme "Who Killed Cock Robin?" to emphasize the children's isolation in the Outback (the film itself has been released on Blu-ray by Criterion and is highly recommended).

The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra Conducted by Nic Raine
The Crouch End Festival Chorus Conducted by David Temple

Barry's score for Zulu is a masterpiece of economy. The film runs 133 minutes but has less than twenty minutes worth of music in it, but nevertheless the music makes quite an impression. Barry based his theme on traditional Zulu melodies and rhythms, but in a standard symphonic setting. Few pieces of music can lay claim to the dignity of this short piece.

Orchestra Conducted by John Barry • Narration Spoken by Richard Burton

"Two Socks: The Wolf Theme" from Dances With Wolves pretty much speaks for itself:

Orchestra Conducted by John Barry

I saw High Road To China when it first came out. I was nine years old and I walked around humming the theme for weeks. It took me years to finally find a copy of the album (and then only because it was re-issued by Fifth Continent on a gold disc along with Krull and Dragonslayer), but it's always been a personal favorite.

A much better-sounding and complete edition of the soundtrack album has been released by Buysoundtrax and is available from Screen Archives.

Orchestra Conducted by John Barry

I've been listening to a lot of John Barry's music this week, but if there was one tune that kept making me think about the man and how he understood music and cinema so well. It was already a historical song, having been the last song Louis Armstrong ever recorded, but here is the one piece of music that perhaps best encapsulates what John Barry could do. I have no shame in admitting that listening to this song on Monday morning brought tears to my eyes.

Lyrics by Hal David • Vocal by Louis Armstrong • Orchestra Conducted by John Barry
Goodbye, John.
Tags: alex north, film music, james bond, james horner, jerry goldsmith, john barry, memorial
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