Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt
swashbuckler332

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Jerry Goldsmith



Although his workload never flagged, apparently the legendary composer was battling cancer for a while, and yesterday he died in his sleep.

I didn't know Jerry Goldsmith personally, but I knew his music, and he is one of the most listened to composers in my collection. I have often written of him as he was one of the most versatile and skilled musicians, able to go from the avant-garde work such as Planet of the Apes to something rapturously beautiful, such as Islands In the Stream, often setting the standard for genres he worked in.

My favorite Goldsmith scores (in alphabetical order):

Alien
A masterpiece of horror film scoring. Ridley Scott requested many changes, both his and Goldsmith's versions of the score remain classic examples of this genre, unsettling, dark and dangerous. Silva Screen had issued the album on CD, but that is out of print. The initial DVD release had two isolated score tracks, one presenting the score as Goldsmith intended, the other what ended up in the film, which was, to date, the definitive presentation. It has yet to show back up on CD.

Basic Instinct
This is an example of a score that changed the sound of a genre. Until this film, cheesy erotic thrillers took their musical approach from John Barry's Body Heat, but afterwards, they all emulated Goldsmith's cold, methodical approach. The music remains measured and controlled throughout, with occasional bursts of violence. Although the original Varese Sarabande CD is decent, the Supertracks expanded edition is superior in every way.

The Blue Max
This music perfectly captures the feeling of freedom offered by flying. The secondary theme is also interesting, a dramatic bridge that furthers the story. Sony Legacy released the complete score, plus all the source cues.

Chinatown
Goldmsith composed this score for Roman Polanski's tour de force in six days, an amazing feat considering how appropriate... and good... the music is. In addition to the main trumpet theme, there are the tinkling sounds denoting water... the generator of the film's story. Varese Sarabande recently re-issued the LP, but the score was isolated on the earlier letterboxed edition of the laserdisc (though, sadly, not the DVD).

Explorers
This one is a personal favorite. It's goofy electronics adorn a very noble main theme that evokes the wonder of flight and the weirdness of adolescence in a unique, and fun, way. The Varese Sarabande disc offers only a few cues. Maybe an expanded edition will be in the offing...

The Final Conflict
How many epic horror film scores are there out there? This is the second sequel to his (only) Oscar winning score The Omen, and it opens up the scope of the previous two scores with a myriad of new themes and a thunderous finale. Varese Sarabande remastered and expanded all of these scores, and their "Deluxe Edition" is the one to get of this.

Islands in the Stream
The album of this score is a re-recording, which, while pleasant, doesn't do justice to the Debussy-inspired work that appears in the film. Goldsmith's collaborations with Franklin J. Schaffner were always interesting, and this was one of his favorites. The Intrada recording is okay, but the original tracks remain unreleased.

Legend
Stupidly dropped from the film for its American release by Universal Pictures (who the same year would end up rather embarrassed from the whole Brazil fiasco), this score is the definitive fairy tale music. Goldsmith's electronics sparkle above the orchestra and choir, creating a palpable atmosphere. Those who have seen the European version of the film (a version of which is preserved on the new DVD) have finally "gotten" this film, which is quite confusing and disjointed in its American incarnation. The Silva and Varese Sarabande editions of this score are expanded and essential.

Outland
Okay, this is another personal favorite, and in this case, I prefer the album to what appears in the film. This score is great fun, chock full of intense harmonic violence. I am not sure whether the GNP Crescendo disc is still in print, which paired it with the album recording of Capricorn One, making it a great Peter Hyams double-feature.

Patton
This score has three elements that illustrate the three main aspects of Patton's personality illustrated in the Schaffner film... a march for the military mind, an organ chorale for the religious man, and, most recognizably, the haunting echoplexed trumpets moving across the stereo soundfield that evokes his belief in reincarnation. This is an example of economy in film scoring: there is only a half an hour's worth of music in a film that runs nearly three hours, but it feels like the film is heavily scored because the music is so powerful and well-placed. Film Score Monthly have issued the original soundtrack recording of this film, and it is available on their website.

Planet of the Apes
Another classic Schaffner collaboration, this score is one of the most intense of Goldmsith's career. Written without a tonal center, and with only one resolution ("Get your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!"), this score is packed with strange noises devised (entirely acoustically) by Goldsmith to imitate the sounds of the great apes. This is a classic, too unique to ever really be copied. The CD to get is the Varese Sarabande Fox remaster, which features the complete score.

The Secret of N.I.M.H.
Sort of a dry run for Legend, though without the electronics, this is a score with great heart as well as dazzling spectacle. Initially released by TER on CD, the album was re-sequenced and re-released by Varese Sarabande. Highly recommended.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture
There's the march that everybody knows because it was hammered into their heads by The Next Generation and the four sequels Goldsmith scored... but there is so much more to this wonderful score. There is a rapturous theme for Ilia, what amounts to a concerto for Blaster Beam and orchestra for V'Ger (which, if one listens carefully, is subtley related to Ilia's theme), there are mysterioso textures for Vulcan, there are celestial sounds for space... the Sony Legacy CD of this is a distinct improvement over the LP edition, but it still is incomplete.

The Thirteenth Warrior
This was a wonderful combination of two of the styles Goldsmith worked best in. The Arabian thematic material, related to the Antonio Banderas character, evokes his best (The Wind and the Lion, see below), and the thunderous choral theme for the Vikings is one of his most hummable creations. A decent helping of this score is available on the Varese Sarabande CD.

Total Recall
Balls-to-the-wall action at its most breathless. The music is relentless and pounding, with a tip of the hat to Basil Poledouris' Conan the Barbarian score. Although the initial release of this was the first CD I ever bought, Varese Sarabande has supplanted it with a most welcome disc of the complete score.

The Wind and the Lion
One of Goldsmith's best and most inspired. The score only appears in the scenes with Sean Connery and Candice Bergin in the desert, and it gives the project an epic sweep that is irresistable. I am not sure if the Intrada album is still in print, but it is well worth the effort, even if the sound quality on it is godawful.

His complete filmography.

I'm already missing him.
Tags: film music, memorial
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