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Lewya

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  1. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/interview-john-williams-at-89-the-man-behind-the-best-and-most-hummable-film-scores-6z32zqz3h Interview: John Williams at 89, the man behind the best (and most hummable) film scores The composer tells Richard Morrison about his decades-long career — including the time he helped out a struggling LSO with ‘some sci‑fi film’ He left it late, but in January this year John Williams added another achievement to a body of work that includes more than 100 film scores, dozens of symphonic works and 52 Academy award nominations. Just a few weeks shy of his 88th birthday he made his conducting debut with the Vienna Philharmonic in the ornately gilded Golden Hall of the Musikverein. The concert, filmed and recorded by Deutsche Grammophon and released next week, was remarkable for several reasons. According to Williams, this venerable orchestra had never played a note of his music before. It certainly made up for lost time, delivering extracts from more than a dozen of Williams’s greatest scores, including Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the Harry Potter films, Jurassic Park, ET, Jaws and Schindler’s List. And the Viennese musicians weren’t the only ones venturing into unfamiliar territory. “Although I’ve done a lot of concert work in America, I had never conducted publicly in Europe before,” Williams admits, speaking down the phone from his Los Angeles home. “And I never really intended to. It always seemed a long way from California. When this invitation came, however, I thought, ‘Well, if I’m ever to conduct a concert in Europe in this lifetime, I’d better get on with it.’ And there’s no greater honour than being invited to conduct in the Musikverein.” Was Williams aware of the history of the hall as he walked out on to that famous platform? After all, in his remarks from the conductor’s podium he referred to his soundtracks for the Star Wars films — all nine of them — as “a nice round number”, a remark clearly picked up by the Viennese audience as an allusion to the number of symphonies written by Beethoven, Schubert, Mahler and Bruckner. “Absolutely,” he replies. “For any composer, to visit Vienna is a spiritual journey. It’s as much of a Mecca as we musicians have. Especially if, like me, you revere Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Mahler. Just the chance to breathe the same air as Haydn — one of the purest, most instinctive talents in the history of music — was more than I could resist.” Which of those composers would Williams most liked to have met? “Oh, Beethoven of course,” Williams says. “I still read through his scores for the pleasure of what I hear in my head, and for the beauty I find in their craftsmanship. And I think he might have been interested in film if he’d lived 200 years later, though he probably would have been horrified by having his music drowned out by the noise of spaceships flying past.” And how did the Vienna Philharmonic take to Williams’s epic film scores? “They rose to the challenge brilliantly,” the composer says. “To be honest, I was a bit concerned before I got there. I know they have this fabulous romantic sound, and they can seem to turn on 19th-century style more genuinely than any other orchestra — but I had worries about the rotary valve trumpets [a more old-fashioned form of trumpet, still favoured in German and Austrian orchestras]. I was concerned about so much upper-register work being played by trumpets without the sort of pistons we use in Britain and America. I need not have worried, though: the trumpets were fabulous. Their pitching and power blew me away.” Hearing music from so many films and decades collected together on one recording makes one appreciate the protean nature of Williams’s genius. There is no single “Williams style”. Yes, the swaggering imperial marches of Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark might be regarded as a hallmark, but so might the spooky, bitonal shifts of the Harry Potter score, or the relentless Prokofiev-like ostinatos of Jaws, or the uneasy Vaughan Williams-like pastoralism of War Horse, or the Yiddish melancholy of Schindler’s List. Does Williams recognise this aspect of his craft, the ability to use the past 200 years of orchestral composition in the way that a painter might use a palette, selecting the colours and textures appropriate to the mood of each movie? “Yes, that’s the essence of being a film composer,” he says. “We are asked to conjure all sorts of moods. I remember in my early days being asked to write burlesque and vaudeville-type music for comedies simultaneously with supplying big romantic scores for dramas. If you are going to write music for cinema, or at least for more than one or two films, you have to accept all varieties of challenge. It goes with the territory.” And although few people think of Williams as an avant-garde composer, there are many moments in his films when he displays a remarkable grasp of what were, at the time, very avant-garde techniques. The nebulous string clusters that open Close Encounters, for instance, could have come straight out of a score by Ligeti or Penderecki. “Yes, it’s true,” Williams acknowledges. “In film there’s often the need for a composer to change gear even in the space of a few minutes. So in Close Encounters, yes, you get those Penderecki-like clusters, but they are then combined with a romantic tune, all in the course of a six-minute sequence.” Does his inspiration ever dry up? Down the phone there is a sardonic chuckle. “There can be no such thing as writer’s block in film composition,” he says. “You are closer to being a journalist than a novelist. You have a certain number of days to write a certain number of minutes of music, and you have to get on with it. It’s a job of carpentry, of manufacturing musical things.” So he never hits a blank? “Oh sometimes, but if there’s a section of a scene I can’t think how to treat I will just move on to another bit, then come back to it. It usually solves itself.” How much do film directors help or hinder the process? Another knowing chuckle down the line. “Directors will always talk about what they think they want musically,” Williams replies. “And I always listen to them. But usually when I get to the piano and start to work, those ideas are pretty much gone. It’s always better for me to respond to the visual material — the film that’s actually being shot — than to verbal instructions. “And of course there’s huge variety in that species of humanity called film directors. Some are very musical. Others are suspicious of using music at all.” Where does Steven Spielberg, the director with whom Williams has collaborated for 46 years, sit in that spectrum? “Oh, with Steven there can’t be enough music,” Williams exclaims. “He always wants more and more. It’s rather touching in its way. He will come to a recording session that ends at a certain hour, the musicians will be packing up, and Steven will say, ‘Where are they going? Why are you stopping? Haven’t you got anything else you can play?’ He just loves the process so much.” Williams admits to being a “child of Hollywood” — his father, a jazz drummer, moved the family there in 1948, and Williams began his career playing piano in Hollywood orchestras throughout the 1950s. Yet some of his most famous scores for Spielberg were recorded not in Hollywood, but in Britain, with the London Symphony Orchestra at Denham or Shepperton studios. “I was introduced to the LSO by my dear friend André Previn, when he was the orchestra’s principal conductor, and of course the LSO players were whizz kids at sight-reading, so we made many recordings together,” Williams recalls. In fact, the story is more dramatic than that. In 1976 the LSO — in desperate financial difficulties — asked Previn if he could write another film score so the orchestra could make some money by recording it. Previn said he was too busy, but offered to phone a friend who was writing a score for “some sci-fi film”. The friend was Williams, who said he would hire the LSO as long as the orchestra could squeeze in 18 sessions in the next month. The orchestra agreed, as long as some sessions could begin at 11pm, after its regular concerts were over. And thus was the soundtrack to Star Wars recorded. Even more extraordinary, the LSO had just recruited a new principal trumpet — the soon-to-be-legendary Maurice Murphy. So on his first day in his new job Murphy’s first task was to blast the opening notes of one of the 20th century’s greatest movie melodies. “Yes, Maurice came out to Denham and we started with the fanfare from Star Wars,” Williams recalls. “And of course he shocked the world by hitting that top C with that extrovert, heroic, raw timbre he had — the perfect sound for the kind of action film that Star Wars was. I loved him from that moment! We always said that we would have a round of golf together, but of course we never found the time, and then he died way too soon.” With most work in Hollywood suspended during the pandemic, Williams might be forgiven for taking a well-earned break from composition. Not a bit of it. He’s spending his time finishing a violin concerto for Anne-Sophie Mutter, who also features in the Vienna concert playing virtuoso arrangements of his soundtracks (“Harry Potter meets Paganini,” Williams quips). Astonishingly, it will be the 19th concerto or quasi-concerto he has written for the concert hall. “I think of my work outside film as being part of my own musical self-education,” he says. “And believe me, the road to being harp-savvy enough to write a harp concerto is a long one. But it’s also nice to write something that doesn’t require the approval of a studio boss. And, you know, even if I wasn’t being paid I would always want to write music. The greatest thrill of my life has been hearing my music played, almost immediately, by wonderful orchestras. It’s something I wish every composer could experience.” He’s not so far away from his tenth decade. Does he ever contemplate hanging up his quill? “Never,” he says. “I will press on. Music isn’t a profession. It’s my oxygen. Take that away and I’d really be in trouble.”
  2. I am more surprised how Alex Ross have seemingly turned around his opinion about John Williams - he dismissed Williams as an "accomplished pasticheur" in the late 1990s I believe. I don't see why Ross stating that Herrmann is the greatest American film composer is a problem. There are also other American film composers other than Herrmann who are also more imaginative/progressive than Williams and therefore for some better composers. Sure, that is Ross opinion, but Herrmann was a true original and was often innovative in terms of how he treated the orchestra. Many thoughtful listeners would agree with him. Ross has said that he is a "big fan" of Herrmann in the past and even wrote the liner notes to a Herrmann anthology back in the 1990s, where he stated that Herrmann was "certainly the greatest Hollywood film composer", then a decade or so later when he reviewed a concert of film music, he wrote that Herrmann was "probably the greatest American film composer", now it is apparently "perhaps the greatest American film composer" that he choose to use in the article. I wonder what changed in 20-some years from "certainly" to "perhaps" in regards to Herrmann being the greatest American film composer. In 2007, Ross listed his top 10 Hollywood film scores on his blog: Vertigo - Bernard Herrmann Chinatown - Jerry Goldsmith The Adventures of Robin Hood - Erich Wolfgang Korngold Laura - David Raksin On the Waterfront - Leonard Bernstein Of Mice and Men - Aaron Copland Anatomy of a Murder - Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn Touch of Evil - Henry Mancini The Lord of the Rings - Howard Shore Star Wars - John Williams And out of those 10, Vertigo was considered a great musical work of the 20th century. At another occasion, Ross has said that "Vertigo may be the greatest of all film scores". Ross also stated that he would be tempted to include 3 or 4 more Herrmann scores if he hadn't limited himself to one film per composer. Ross considers Close Encounters of the Third Kind to be Williams' best score, even if he picked Star Wars back in 2007 when he made the list. Personally, I totally understand why Herrmann is singled out, because he was such an original pathbreaker for American film music.
  3. Alberto Iglesias on Ennio Morricone (a new article by Iglesias): Ennio Morricone: repetition and glory in five steps Composer Alberto Iglesias analyzes the work of the Italian musician through his best scores for film Perhaps the most valuable thing in the vast work of Ennio Morricone, a composer of extraordinary and intimidating fertility, is how he always knew how to combine his classical training and taste for melody with a decidedly experimental desire. Being so prolific, being able to work so fast, and at the same time knowing how to keep the guy with dignity allowed him to transfer that adventurous spirit to smaller productions, especially to those Italian genre films of the sixties and seventies. With his band Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza (a group in which he participated with other Italian composers since the 1960s, such as Franco Evangelisti or Egisto Macchi) he also gave free rein to his avant-garde instincts. Although this combination is a very distinctive feature of his work, he never forgot that predilection for melody and the taste for popular song that is inevitable in the profession of film composer. Morricone knew how to collect the legacy of Nino Rota, and, together with composers of his generation such as Georges Delerue, he defined the music of the great European cinema, whose influence transcended the continent. He also knew how to introduce concepts of music such as India or Indonesian gamelan, at the same time he picked up the witness of great authors such as Antonio Vivaldi. He composed hundreds of soundtracks. This selection of five allows a review of some of the essential aspects of his work: ‘The Battle of Algiers’ (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966) It has a very impressive start. It is a film with little music and, nevertheless, it has an exceptional protagonism, which draws powerfully the attention of the viewer. ‘Until his time came’ (Sergio Leone, 1968) His work in the western genre is one of the most recognizable parts of his career. Here, his mastery of the synthesis and repetition of musical motifs as aesthetics is verified, allowing the viewer to focus more on the image. It uses very simple elements that end up building a very emotional set. 'Days of Heaven' (Terrence Malick, 1978) In this work his mastery in the use of slow times stands out. He said that he did not know how to direct adages, but this score, a sample of the mastery of the art of calming musical times, contradicts him. ‘The mission’ (Roland Joffé, 1986) This score shows that influence in his music of the geniuses of the Italian Seicento. There are also traces of a taste for choral, quasi-mystical music. I don't know if he was a believing man, but these notes give off great spirituality. On one occasion I heard him relate this soundtrack to Igor Stravinski's Symphony of Psalms, although I think they are not so similar. ‘The Hateful Eight’ (Quentin Tarantino, 2015) This piece, which earned him his first and only Oscar, I really liked; Morricone's work has a great influence on the editing of the film. I don't know if he composed it before or after the images, but I think there is no doubt that Tarantino very much believed in music. This late work is a waste of imagination and a lesson in the dramatic use of serious instruments such as the bassoon and the bassoon.
  4. John Zorn in The New York Times on Ennio Morricone: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/08/arts/music/ennio-morricone-john-zorn.html Ennio Morricone Was More Than Just a Great Film Composer He was one of the great composers, period. Ennio Morricone was more than one of the world’s great soundtrack composers — he was one of the world’s great composers, period. For me, his work stands with Bach, Mozart, Debussy, Ellington and Stravinsky in achieving that rare fusion of heart and mind. Dare we compare the five notes of his famous “coyote call” in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” with the four opening notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony? Morricone’s music is just as timeless. Morricone, who died on Monday at 91, has been an influence and an inspiration since I first encountered his work as a teenager in 1967. “The Ecstasy of Gold” from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” hit me with the same power as modernist masterpieces like “The Rite of Spring,” Ives’s Fourth Symphony and Varèse’s “Arcana”; it shares their complex rhythmic invention, unique sound world and lush romantic sweep. Embracing the soaring lyricism of his Italian heritage, Morricone’s gift for song was extraordinary. He was one of those musicians who could make an unforgettable melody with just a small fistful of notes. His meticulous craftsmanship and ear for orchestration, harmony, melody and rhythm resulted in music that was perfectly balanced; as with all master composers, every note was there for a reason. Change one note, one rhythm, one rest, and there is diminishment. Having roots in both popular music and the avant-garde, Morricone was an innovator, and he overcame each new challenge with a fresh approach, retaining a curiosity and childlike sense of wonder. He was always open to trying new sounds, new instruments, new combinations — rarely drawing from the same well twice. He was a man of integrity who did not suffer fools gladly. Stories of his responses to inane directorial suggestions are legend, including one of my favorites: “In the history of music, nothing like that has ever happened — nor will it ever happen.” He lived a relatively simple life in a beautiful apartment in Rome, waking as early as 4:30 in the morning, taking walks and composing at his desk for hours on end. He traveled little. What needs to be understood is that Morricone was a magician of sound. He had an uncanny ability to combine instruments in original ways. Ocarina, slapstick, whistling, electric guitar noises, grunts, electronics and howls in the night: Anything was welcome if it had dramatic effect. By the 1960s, the electric guitar had become central to his palette and he was able to blend it into a variety of unusual contexts with dramatic flair. In “Svegliati e Uccidi,” he has the guitarist imitate the “rat-a-tat-tat” of a machine gun through the amplifier’s spring reverb, and his instruction to the musician to “sound like a spear” resulted in one of the most intense guitar tones ever recorded, in “Once Upon a Time in the West.” His mastery of a wide range of genres and instruments made him a musician ahead of his time. He could explore extended techniques on a trumpet mouthpiece in a free-improvisational context in the morning; write a seductive big-band arrangement for a pop singer in the afternoon; and score a searing orchestral film soundtrack at night. This kind of openness remains the way of the future — and was a formative model for me. Morricone is best known for his film work, but we must never forget his large catalog of “absolute” music — his classical compositions. There the music comes straight from his heart. And yet what he accomplished in the challenging and restrictive world of film music is nothing short of miraculous. There, his immense imagination, sharp ear for drama, profound lyricism, puckish sense of humor and huge heart find voice through a magnificent and masterly musicianship. Artistic freedom was his credo, and his impeccable taste and innate sense of energy, space and time was palpable. His work elevated every film he scored. One of my dearest memories is visiting him at a recording session in New York, around 1986. He was, as always, a gentleman: elegant, gracious and more than kind to a young fan who stood humbled in front of his hero. We spoke through a translator for much of our conversation, but he took me aside for a few moments and shared some composerly advice on working in movies. I will always remember his words to me that day: “Forget the film. Think of the soundtrack record.” Many composers wonder, and may even worry, if their work will live on after they are gone — if their contribution will be remembered and their music treasured. Morricone need have had no such fears. His work has been embraced; he achieved that rare balance of being profoundly influential to both the inner world of musicians and to society as a whole. His sonic adventures stand on their own merits both in the context of the films he scored and on their own terms as pure music. This was his magic. He was more than a musical figure. He was a cultural icon. He was the maestro — and I loved him dearly.
  5. Michael Nyman wrote "Goodbye, Ennio." on Facebook.
  6. The reactions have been pretty remarkable so far. Hard to follow, really. No doubt there will be more condolences coming from more notables. Daniel Pemberton wrote that for him, Morricone is the greatest film composer ever: Both Jonny Greenwood and Thom Yorke retweeted the news of his death. Ryuichi Sakamoto wrote "Thank you, maestro! Rest In Peace". on Facebook.
  7. R.I.P. I was just listening to his music. Easily the greatest living film composer (when he was alive). Hans Zimmer chimes in and there will be more words from notable people coming:
  8. Max Richter has also named The Long Goodbye one of his favourite film scores in the past.
  9. Alberto Iglesias penned an article writing about John Williams and Ennio Morricone (that Spanish award): https://www.abc.es/cultura/musica/abci-alberto-iglesias-genios-no-parecen-nada-202006060134_noticia.html Iglesias favourite JW score is The Long Goodbye, and from Morricone Cinema Paradiso. He also writes that he feels closer to Morricone. He also believes both Morricone and Williams would have liked to receive the award alone. I used Google translate: Two geniuses who are not alike at all by Alberto Iglesias The Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts to Ennio Morricone and John Williams recognizes two creators who have made film music an art, each expressing their talent, their style I imagine that by awarding this award to two such important musicians, to two geniuses, they wanted to reward the genre, film music. And that is very valuable. But I think each of them deserves it for themselves, any one of them could be the sole recipient of the award. Both Morricone and Williams seem extraordinary to me. They have made film music into an art, each one expressing his talent, his style and his way of conceiving music. They do not look alike. That is also the greatness of music in the cinema, which can house completely different styles. Williams inherits the Hollywood tradition, but also develops it and takes it to a very new place in many moments. He is the king of the great American audiovisual show. Morricone, which I feel closer to, probably, is in the measure of European cinema and has a very artisanal style, very own. I think he is the one who has thought the most about music in Europe. Film music is highly regarded and part of popular culture. Maybe these awards want to open to that popular music as the Parnassus of great art. In the same way that Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, although in that case there was a greater leap. To think that the music of popular tradition, so implanted, can also be the music of the high intellectual spheres. It is a splendid recognition, which I imagine will have made both of them very excited. Although I also think they would have liked to receive it alone. I don't know if they know the importance that these awards have in Spanish culture. If I had to choose a soundtrack for each of them, I would cite two, released by Quartet Records. From John Williams, "The Long Goodbye," a Robert Altman movie. It's less of Williams's big, imposing style. It has a more jazzy root, a connection to jazz. He was a jazz pianist early in his career. From Morricone, he would quote "Cinema Paradiso" or "Tie Me", which he made for Almodóvar. They are all great scores.
  10. From today's New York Times. Asked about Indiana Jones being mentioned in one of his new songs ("I Contain Multitudes"): But Indiana Jones was a fictional character? Dylan: Yeah, but the John Williams score brought him to life. Without that music it wouldn’t have been much of a movie. It’s the music which makes Indy come alive. So that maybe is one of the reasons he is in the song. Full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/12/arts/music/bob-dylan-rough-and-rowdy-ways.html
  11. Bob Dylan on John Williams: From today's New York Times. Asked about Indiana Jones being mentioned in one of his new songs ("I Contain Multitudes"): But Indiana Jones was a fictional character? Dylan: Yeah, but the John Williams score brought him to life. Without that music it wouldn’t have been much of a movie. It’s the music which makes Indy come alive. So that maybe is one of the reasons he is in the song. Full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/12/arts/music/bob-dylan-rough-and-rowdy-ways.html
  12. Oscar Winner Hildur Guðnadóttir Reveals Her 5 Favorite Film Scores https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/awards/9373666/oscar-winner-hildur-gudnadottir-favorite-film-scores The Shining: Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind created the music for Stanley Kubrick's psychological horror classic from 1980. "It’s probably one of my all-time favorite film scores, with music that really, really gets under your skin," Hildur told Oscar.com. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me: Angelo Badalamenti created the music for David Lynch's psychological horror film from 1992. The soundtrack reached No. 173 on the Billboard 200. "I think that score is fantastic," Hildur said. "I love the simplicity of it." Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Antonio Sánchez created the music for Alejandro G. Iñárritu's black comedy/drama from 2014. “I absolutely adored that score…," Hildur said. "It was great to see how drums could carry the whole emotional spectrum. It's exciting to see innovative scores like that." The Revenant: Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto created the music for Iñárritu's follow-up film, released in 2015. Hildur's cello playing is prominently featured on this score, which was nominated for best original score at the Golden Globes and best film music at the BAFTAs but was ruled ineligible for the Oscar for best original score because it was "assembled from the music of more than one composer." When Harry Met Sally…: Marc Shaiman and Harry Connick Jr. collaborated on the music for Rob Reiner's beloved 1989 rom-com. Connick's album of the same name reached No. 42 on the Billboard 200 and was a chart fixture for more than two years. Connick, then just 21, sings such standards as "Our Love Is Here to Stay," "But Not for Me," "Stompin' at the Savoy" and "Don't Get Around Much Anymore." "That's the film I’ve probably seen the most often with my mom," Hildur said. "We love it. We basically know every single word. That one is more just for the fun of watching the film.”
  13. Looks like Jerry Goldsmith (the guy with the white hair) on the right of that photo behind him. No clue who the two ladies are between Williams and what looks like Goldsmith.
  14. I just found this. Ryuichi Sakamoto said that his top 7 favourite film composers of all time are (in no order): Alex North, Toru Takemitsu, Bernard Herrmann, Leonard Rosenman, Ennio Morricone, Georges Delerue and Nino Rota. That is his film music pantheon in terms of which composers. He said that he idolizes these 7 film composers. He included most of his top 7 favourite film composers in his top 10 soundtracks of all time, the only two which he didn't include are Bernard Herrmann and Georges Delerue, all of the others of his favourite film composers of all time are included. Ryuichi Sakamoto's top 10 soundtracks of all time (in no order): Stalker, Solaris, Mirror - Eduard Artemyev Nostalghia (a concert work inspired by the Tarkovsky film) - Toru Takemitsu Shochiku 120th Anniversary Soundtrack Collection (compilation) - Numerous composers ranging from Toru Takemitsu to Joe Hisaishi Yojimbo - Masaru Sato Seven Samurai - Fumio Hayasaka Fellini and Rota (compilation) - Nino Rota Once Upon a Time in the West - Ennio Morricone A Streetcar Named Desire - Alex North Beneath the Planet of the Apes - Leonard Rosenman Solaris - Cliff Martinez I agree with most of his top 10, the only two that I can't get into as much is Seven Samurai and Yojimbo (not counting the Takemitsu concert work which is technically not film music), but I will have tor reconsider them seeing how highly Sakamoto thinks of these two scores. I would have included Thomas Newman's American Beauty as well as Jerry Fielding's Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia on my own list, but aside from those two, I can't say I disagree with the rest of his choices. It was a nice surprise to see Martinez's Solaris included, which isn't my favourite soundtrack of all time by any means, but it is probably my favourite film score of the 21st century so far.
  15. I forgot to post these 2 comments on John Williams, the first one is from the French actress/sing-song writer Charlotte Gainsbourg (who have acted in some Lars von Trier films), and the second one is from the French musican/film composer Chassol. The Towering Inferno inspired him to persue film scoring, even if he likes it less now. Charlotte Gainsbourg included the Theme from Jaws among the music that has soundtracked her life: https://daily.redbullmusicacademy.com/2017/12/memoir-charlotte-gainsbourgs-life-in-music Charlotte Gainsbourg: Film soundtracks are important to me. They have influenced my music, but of course I have also acted in a lot of movies. This selection is my mother’s fault. She took me to London when I was four. The film was out and in London it wasn’t banned. I saw the film and it traumatized me. Musically, John Williams’ score is incredible. The soundtrack has haunted me ever since I first saw it. I listen to it again today with great pleasure. It’s a very prominent memory. Chassol talks about John Williams in French while some excerpts from Williams's lesser-known scores (Catch Me If You Can, The Towering Inferno, Earthquake, The Eiger Sanction etc) play: Chassol: Yes, film music: Ennio Morricone, John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith occupied me a lot of time during my adolescence. Chassol: I discovered the music of film with Ennio Morricone and Sergio Leone: “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, “My Name is Nobody”, “Duck, You Sucker!”, “Once Upon a Time in America”… I really studied the music of these films in particular. There was John Williams from Steven Spielberg films, and also Jerry Goldsmith. There were so many films from the late 1960s and early 1970s… I really liked their aesthetics, the way they were shot, their themes that combined politics and paranoia. I discovered Brian De Palma when I was a teenager with “Carrie“. I also love photography, and Vilmos Zsigmond, who had also worked on “The Deer Hunter“, was the director of photography for the film. There seems to be a sort of veil over the camera – I even heard that it was because he put milk on it! It’s an image I love, and it’s found in a lot of Brian De Palma’s films, including “Obsession“. I love that De Palma’s films were thrillers, that there was a bit of the paranormal, plus voyeurism themes, long traveling shots like in “Blow Out” where Travolta is a sound recorder, or the scenes in supermarkets, museums where he follows women. There’s something perverse about it, but his way of filming is incredible, as is his use of music. De Palma is a fan of Hitchcock, so he worked with Bernard Hermann, then when he died he chose Pino Donaggio (“Carrie”, “Blow Out”, “Dressed to Kill”, “Body Double”…). He had a real signature. Synchronization, camera movements, music… that’s what I loved when I was a teenager. Interviewer: What are three essential film scores? Christophe Chassol: So…. Let's say "The Planet of the Apes" by Jerry Goldsmith (1968), perhaps "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" by Morricone and then we must also quote Bernard Herrmann for "Vertigo" or a John Williams. Interviewer: John Williams? Christophe Chassol: It’s really important anyway. I really liked it younger. I like less now. But it’s super important because sometimes it goes beyond the realm of film music like Jaws for example. For me, it was The Towering Inferno that really motivated me to make film music. It’s a youthful thing. I ran into it on TV. I hallucinated about the opening at the Copland, the great outdoors, the big brass, the open quarters. So to sum up, I would say "The Planet of the Apes", "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" or "Once upon a time in America" which is still magnificent. Besides, we were talking about a booklet just now, and while listening recently to "Once upon a time in America", I was reading the booklet and there was a musician who said: "we were all there and we felt that something crazy was going on and when we got nothing as a reward, we were stuck. " Speaking of which, one of the first videos that I harmonized, it’s an Oscar award from 1976, my year of birth by the way, and that’s just crazy about the nominees. You have Herrmann for "Obsession" by Brian de Palma, Herrmann for "Taxi Driver", Lalo Schifrin for "Voyage Of The Damned", Jerry Fielding whom I love for "Josey Wales" and Jerry Goldsmith for "The Omen". Another film music that really stood out to me was Stravinsky in film music, with something else too.
  16. Here is the full interview (http://www.planet-interview.de/interviews/philip-glass/33560/ in German, I used Google translate so not every thing is spot on): Glass hasn't even seen Titanic by the way and was annoyed by it. Composer Philip Glass about composing, writing, about Hollywood composers who don't invent anything and about his taxi license Interviewer: Mr. Glass, how many hours have you composed today? Glass: When I'm traveling, like right now, yes, I write quite often and a lot. But even if I have a quiet hotel room, I can hardly compose more than four hours a day. Interviewer: Is there a daily workload that you prescribe yourself? Glass: No, I don't prescribe anything, but I have a lot to do. I always have to deliver my works at a certain time, there is no way around it. When I'm at home in the United States, I usually work ten to twelve hours a day. I start at 8 a.m. and stop at about 11 a.m. But I have lunch and dinner with my family - for me it is a normal, pleasant family life. Interviewer: Twelve hours, every day is not a little. Glass: Yes, maybe. I have finished four projects since last December. The film music for "Naqoyqatsi", the third part of the trilogy by Godfrey Reggio, a piece for Broadway "The Elephant Man", then the music for "The Hours", a film with Nicole Kidman, a bit more mainstream. And I have just finished working on my opera "Galileo Galilei". That may be a lot, but the fact is that I really like all of these projects. I could have canceled a project, but no, I wanted to do them all. I am like a child on a child's birthday who always wants to eat the whole cake alone. Interviewer: When you compose, create new works, are you always looking for a new musical language? Glass: I think I had a pronounced musical language very early on, which then changed again and again. If you look at "Einstein on the Beach" in 1969 and then the music that I write today, there is a huge difference. For example, when I write the film music "Naqoyqatsi" today, it is a challenge because it has to be different than my music for "Koyaanisqatsi" or "Powaqatsi". On the other hand, I always have the same tools that I have to change a little for every film. Or let's take "The Elephant Man", a very specific stage play, which is a big challenge for me. Because every theater project has its specific requirements and the music has to function differently for each project. So working on the theater always gives me the opportunity to take on a new challenge and that means that I have to keep reshaping my musical language. In other words, my music for "The Elephant Man" wouldn't match "" Galileo Galilei "at all, it just wouldn't work. When I started Galileo, I had just finished working on" Elephant Man "an hour earlier , but I was wearing a different shirt, so to speak. Interviewer: And were there moments in your composer career when the shirt did not fit? Glass: Yes. But I will say that now in retrospect. I play about 40 concerts a year with the ensemble that I played with for the first time in 1968. I often use the opportunity to play my early works. And then I realize that this music has tremendous energy, but that it is written in a way that I can no longer do today. Then my brain changed. Playing my early works is always like a journey through time, but I also notice that the audience is now much more interested in my old music than it was when I wrote the pieces. Interviewer: What were your expectations in that regard at that time? Glass: When I wrote "Einstein on the Beach" in my 30s, I had a relatively large audience. I was very happy about that, but I didn't expect it at all. I started with my ensemble in 1969 in front of a very small audience. I never expected to become a famous composer. I no longer believed in the existence of an underground composer, just the type who writes all his life for a small group of passionate fans, no longer. That was at 32. When "Einstein" came and later "Koyaanisqatsi", when I was 41, I was really surprised. Of course I was very happy because it meant that I could live a life as a composer. Because up to my 42nd year I had a part-time job, actually nothing unusual for the conditions in the USA. I had decided not to become a music teacher or professor, even though I had the necessary academic degree. That would have put me too far from my job as a musician. I say that for me. Others can write and teach music, some even very well. But I can be schizophrenic. So I had to earn my money differently, and I thought I would have to do it my whole life. The view changed for the first time when I received the order for my opera "Satyagraha" from the Dutch Opera Rotterdam and shortly afterwards the order for "Akhnaten" from Stuttgart. Only then did I see that I can live from composing. But, I wasn't sure yet. So I extended my taxi license for two more years until I was 43. Interviewer: Wow! Glass: No, I didn't have to use it at the time, but I always had it in my pocket - for safety. The next extension was due when I was 45 - I left it there. Interviewer: Would you recommend the taxi license to a young American composer today? Glass: Yes, that's one of the best ways. The streets are a bit dangerous, of course, that's right. But you can drive your hours whenever you want. I was registered as a taxi driver, but if I wanted to go on tour for three weeks, I just did it, the taxi center didn't care. It's not a particularly stable job either. When I needed money, I went to the headquarters and got the keys. As a taxi driver, you also have no boss, apart from the passengers, of course. But when I didn't like them, sometimes I just got out, finished and left - I had my own strategy. I liked driving a taxi, I could also take a taxi at night, which I did a lot. Only, New York, the city and the streets are not safe. I was also glad that I no longer had to drive. Interviewer: What is your favorite car to drive today? Glass: Oh, I have no idea. We have other cars than yours in Europe, I know that much. But my wife hasn't let me behind the wheel for a while, she always takes the keys away from me. She thinks I'm a terrible driver. And I have to say: she is right. If you ever come to New York, take a taxi. Interviewer: I will surely get to know a number of composers. Glass: Not only composers, many authors, actors and filmmakers drive taxis in New York. Interviewer: So a composition student shouldn't have too high hopes for a full-time job as a composer? Glass: It is possible, but very difficult. I would definitely encourage the student to try it. But I also tell him that he must always enjoy his work, his music and his life as a composer, at any point and at any time. Because if only success - especially financial - brings him joy, he won't get very far. Above all, I advise young composers to keep playing their music. I think that the only way for a composer to get attention in any way is that the music has to be performed, people have to listen to it. If we leave this decision to our music to others, no one will hear it. Then you have to send your music to the orchestras, you have to wait for the answer, it takes a long time and does nothing. By the way, my son is also a musician. I told him that he should take pleasure in what he does. Because it could be that the great career does not come to anything. Whether he will be discovered one day as a great singer or songwriter - we don't know. Interviewer: Some of your contemporaries among the composers write a lot, generally about music, but also specifically about their works. Do you like to write about music? Glass: No, not necessarily. Some composers are quite good at it, and they also like writing books about music, especially about their music. I only wrote a book and today I write a few articles every now and then. It takes a lot of time to write. And when I ask myself whether I should write a book or a new piece of music, the answer is quickly found. Interviewer: Do you think that a concert audience should understand every new work, even without explanations by the composer? Glass: What does 'understand' mean? Let's take repertoire music, Schubert, Brahms or Mahler, if you ask the audience if they 'understand' the music - most of them can't read music at first, and if you specifically ask them about a work, they may hardly know anything about it. It may be a little different in Europe, but in the United States the audience is not so educated. But the audience can really like the music. My father is the best example: he loved music very much, the most different styles, but he could not read music or knew anything about music, in a technical sense. As for writing, especially ideological, that's a small industry in Germany, isn't it? Interviewer: Why in Germany of all places? Glass: I don't know, but when I travel I see a lot of how people live and how they work. And in Germany I noticed that there are many scientists. who write about music, not just at universities and colleges. Why not, after all there is an audience for it. But if you published a book on the theory of minimal music in the USA, hardly anyone would read it. Interviewer: And you don't mind that people in your home country are not so interested in these aspects? Glass: No, I don't mind. On the contrary, it also means that I don't have to write these books. I'm actually happy about that, so I finally have more time to compose. I think you have to see these things in the context of the social environment. If I were a composer in Germany, I would probably also have to write something about music so people don't think I am an idiot. At home, nobody expects that from me. I also have no natural need to do this. Writing may be good enough to train the brain, but it doesn't make me a better composer. Interview: Who are the most influential composers of the 20th century for you? Glass: In the beginning it was definitely Debussy, Schönberg and Stravinsky, these three. And everyone was equally important. For me personally, Debussy had a greater influence than Schoenberg, but everyone wanted to approach the problem of creating order in the world of tonality - the end of romanticism, the dissolution of tonality, it had all caused a lot of confusion. Everyone has found different ways, new ways of composition. There followed a period of 50, 60 years in which people worked on these ideas and many wonderful works were created. Next I find John Cage important and influential. He started a new discussion about music in the 1960s that changed music a lot. His own music was hardly ever played - he was just one of those who wrote books about music. And we composers have read these books rather than the normal audience. His generation of composers was very influenced by his thoughts. Interviewer: Arrived in the 21st century, the best-known and most creative composers of classical music mainly work in Hollywood. Would you confirm any influence from them? Glass: No. We're talking about composers who discover something new, who invent it, who develop a new musical language. Interviewer: And Williams, Horner, Zimmer? Glass: No, no. They just repack things, they recombine. But inventing and recombining are very different things. It's the same in pop music, not everyone just recombines, there are inventors there too, you just have to know the difference. Bob Dylan, that's an inventor. Just like Paul Simon, the Beach Boys in the 60s / 70s or Frank Zappa - something really new was invented. John Williams, James Horner, they are very talented, but they are not inventors, they write their music by just creating new packaging. Interviewer: Are you watching the films that use this music? "Titanic" for example, have you seen it? Glass: No. I was very annoyed about "Titanic" anyway, because it was the year that "Kundun" was nominated for four Oscars, also for my film music. (James Horner won the Oscar for Best Film Music with his score for "Titanic", editor's note). I've met James many times, as well as Danny Elfman or Elmer Bernstein. I also play concerts in L.A. every year, in the past few years these have been mostly projects where we played live music for films. They often come to my concerts. Then I can’t avoid them either, I don’t want to, because we have a good friendship. They master their craft very well, but they don't invent anything. Interviewer: When I was talking to Michael Nyman about two years ago, he was very disappointed that he hadn't yet received an Oscar for his film music. Glass: I don't think Michael has even been nominated yet. Interviewer: Indeed, but why are composers like Mr. Nyman or Philip Glass so keen on the Oscar? Glass: You don't know? - You really don't know? It's clearly about money, money and more money (laughs). Let's take my studio in New York, there is a recording studio and there is the publishing house, ten permanent employees. My studio has become a very productive place for me to write film music, to stage a stage, an opera - but I need assistants and people who take care of everything. This is my small business, which I ultimately finance through my music. I don't get any money from the government, but not in the United States, there is no money that would be available to us composers. So the money comes in through orders, performances, all my activities. And film scores - I've already written a few - they take a lot less time than an opera, for example. But they bring just as much money. But it is very rarely the case with film that you are musically free. "Kundun" was such a film, where I had a completely free hand musically and could do what I wanted. Martin Scorsese gave me a blank check, so to speak. An ideal situation, I worked in a commercial context, but had my artistic freedom. Unfortunately, this does not happen very often. But I want to mention another aspect of the Oscar for film music: last year, Tan Dun was awarded for his music for "Tiger & Dragon", a Chinese composer from the Beijing Conservatory. The previous year was won by John Corigliano, a composition teacher at the Julliard School, a very well-known music college in the USA. So these are composers who don't have much to do with Hollywood. But the Academy Award is now part of popular culture. And not many composers enter and leave this world. I very much respect what Tan Dun has achieved because on the one hand he won this prize, but on the other hand he continues to write operas. It's easy to go to Hollywood and stay there. Coming and going as you want, however, is extremely difficult. Interviewer: Critics have already referred you to the corner of popular culture, every now and then you read about the 'pop star' Philip Glass. Have you ever seen or felt like a pop star? Glass: It's easy. For example, if Paul Simon sells 2,000,000 records, I sell 20,000. So I'm two decimal places from Paul, two zeros. It may be that I get as much space in the newspaper, but the two decimal places do not change anything. If I were to sell 200,000, it would still be a decimal place. I've even sold some of my CDs over 200,000 times, but only a few. Yo-yo Ma, if he releases a record, he will surely sell 200,000 pieces. Is he a pop star now? Yes, he is a popular interpreter of classical music. He is also a very interesting man who tries to find new ways of interpreting classical music. Or Gidon Kremer, a pop star? Yes, maybe, look at how he reinvents the violin repertoire, the things he did with Piazzolla and what he did with me. There are obviously ambitions to develop something new, in the instrument and in the interpretation. But none of us have ever sold as many records as U2 - that's the reality. If U2 only sold 200,000 records, their record company would cancel the contract in no time. So: we exaggerate. But we exaggerate because we enjoy it. It's fun to say Philip Glass is a pop star, fun idea actually. But in the end I'm a composer of the sort that people know the name but not the music, or that they know the music but don't know who wrote it. I'm such a pop star.
  17. This is the first comment I have ever seen from Philip Glass on John Williams. A stupid interviewer by the way. Philip Glass on John Williams (from 2002) - Glass basically said that Williams is very talented, but not an inventor - he writes his music by just creating new packaging, not inventing a new musical language. Interviewer: Arrived in the 21st century, the best-known and most creative composers of classical music mainly work in Hollywood. Would you confirm any influence from them? Glass: No. We're talking about composers who discover something new, who invent it, who develop a new musical language. Interviewer: And Williams, Horner, Zimmer? Glass: No, no. They just repack things, they recombine. But inventing and recombining are very different things. It's the same in pop music, not everyone just recombines, there are inventors there too, you just have to know the difference. Bob Dylan, that's an inventor. Just like Paul Simon, the Beach Boys in the 60s / 70s or Frank Zappa - something really new was invented. John Williams, James Horner, they are very talented, but they are not inventors, they write their music by just creating new packaging.
  18. You have to go further back, Forbidden Planet (1956) I believe was the first full electronic score.
  19. I just checked and dammit, you are right, it seems like he meant his favourite scores of all time and not necessarily individual tracks: Although it seems like it could be also his favourite track from his favourite scores - I am not sure. As you say, some of his picks are a bit weird, especially the Red Sparrow track. I updated the first post saying scores, not tracks, although I kept the names of tracks that were in the list for reference.
  20. This was news to me. Apparently Goldenthal thanked David Shire in the booklet of Alien 3. "I have a lot of admiration for David. David did a score called The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 and that's a twelve-tone big band score. That's something that's never associated with Mr. Shire, who's many times thought of as a middle-of-the-road type composer, but that work, if you just listen to it on its own, it's a very unsusual score." I wonder if Goldenthal has mentioned Williams in the past and what he has said about him, I can only remember a comment he made about Jaws, nothing else: “It took a director like Spielberg, who really pays attention to music, working with Williams, to remind us of the power of music in a film,” Goldenthal says of “Jaws.” “It is not special effects or sound effects that makes ‘Jaws’ scary, but Williams’ music, just as it was Herrmann’s music in ‘Psycho’ that created all the terror in the shower scene.” A new video of Elliot Goldenthal discussing his score to Alien 3:
  21. James Mangold recently followed Michael Giacchino on Twitter if I am not mistaken. It wouldn't surprise me if it will be Giacchino. Either Giacchino or Beltrami will get the gig. I don't think JW will do it, although if he would do it, it wouldn't surprise me either. I hope JW focuses on better projects than to go out on SW 9 or Indy 5.
  22. Taxi Driver for me. I don't consider Taxi Driver to be one of Herrmann's top 10 scores though, but I really like it. While we are on this topic, I think Scorsese has rather subtly expressed some criticism for John Williams by the way. I think he said in the Spielberg documentary that he sometimes mutes the sound on Spielberg films and just watches pictures. But maybe I am reading too much into that.
  23. Yey, Newman again named The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel as a favourite score of his - my favourite film score of the 2010s:
  24. I just found Leonard Rosenman's and Hans Zimmer's top 5. Leonard Rosenman's top 5 film scores of all time (in no order, although we can assume the Herrmann score is his #1): Psycho - Bernard Herrmann Jaws - John Williams Gone with the Wind - Max Steiner Patton - Jerry Goldsmith East of Eden - Leonard Rosenman He included himself among the 5 best film scores of all time. Hans Zimmer's top 5 film scores of all time (in no order, although he has said at another time that the Morricone score is his #1): Once Upon a Time in America - Ennio Morricone Blade Runner - Vangelis Midnight Express - Giorgio Moroder Close Encounters of the Third Kind - John Williams The Shawshank Redemption - Thomas Newman
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