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The Golden Age of Film Scoring Thread


Jurassic Shark
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This is the thread for appreciation of golden age scores. There are several more or less similar definitions around, but here we say it's the period from the 1920s to 1950s. Focus on non-Hollywood scores is also welcome.

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The 1920s is a bit early to start. Only at the very end of the decade was Hollywood even a thing, and didn't really become the dominant film industry (and hence Golden Age) in the US untill the early 30s.

 

The end point is more up to debate. I tend to put it at 1948, with the Paramount verdict, suburbanization, tv etc. happening all at once, but there were obviously still major studio films being produced throughout the 50s.

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18 minutes ago, Jurassic Shark said:

Great purchases, @Fabulin. Would you like to highlight some exerpts?

The Gerhardt release has not arrived yet, but the Sea Hawk has. I especially like the final act of the film, and the main title and the battle at the beginning. The main attraction is Korngold's unrivalled conducting of his own music.

 

In Midsummer Night's Dream the highlight is unsurprisingly the overture, which I find better conducted (especially due to the early part) than its contemporary interpretations by the likes of Toscanini, Furtwängler, Klemperer... The fog dance is something special as well. Magical. And then there is the wedding march with a choir!

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9 minutes ago, Fabulin said:

The main attraction is Korngold's unrivalled conducting of his own music.

 

Agreed. So energetic.

 

9 minutes ago, Fabulin said:

In Midsummer Night's Dream the highlight is unsurprisingly the overture, which I find better conducted (especially due to the early part) than its contemporary interpretations by the likes of Toscanini, Furtwängler, Klemperer... The fog dance is something special as well. Magical. And then there is the wedding march with a choir!

 

There's a very good re-recording of this score, but you probably knew that.

 

 

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I also long time ago bought about 7 or so from that series. I have to look where I had the rest. I found them in a store that had hundreds of them, 1 Euro each. But audio quality is often quite bad. Except for Herrmann score "Beneath the 12 Mile Reef" which is quite good. 

20210202_130005.jpg

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These are reissues of the old Tsunami releases, which are known for heavy-handed noise reduction.

 

Still, it's the only way to get the original recordings of some of these scores!

 

I've also got the Don Juan release.

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I think, in general Waxman and Herrmann are my favourite composers from the aera. 

Steiner and Rozsa are for me important references because you hear their work so much in later scores. Like Poledouris' Conan is Rozsa all over and Steiner's King Kong build the foundation for Williams' The Lost World in many ways.

The least so far I could warm up with Alfred Newman. Never heard anything that really excited me.

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1 hour ago, Jurassic Shark said:

 

 

Thank you. But still doesn't blow my skirt (like Charlton Heston said in True Lies). 

But that example rather increases my disapointed in the corresponding Horner score, now seing how little new he build on that foundation apart from the usual Horner patterns.

 

I probably sound a little too negative here. Dissapointment might be a little too strong. Actually, I didn't expect much from the score. 

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Quick backstory first:

 

Korngold was my first Golden Age love, and my way into it, appr. mid 90s. A few years later, however, Waxman took the throne and has remained my favourite ever since. He's also the one I have the most music by. Obviously also own a great deal by the "regulars" Rozsa, Newman, Tiomkin, Herrmann (if he counts) and some Steiner.

 

But here's a handful of must-have soundtracks by composers outside that elite group:

 

Victor Young - FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS/GOLDEN EARRINGS/OMAR KHAYAAM

Victor Young - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS

Hugo Friedhofer - THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES

Bronislau Kaper - THE ADVENTURES OF QUENTIN DURWARD

Arthur Bliss - THINGS TO COME

Virgil Thomson - THE PLOW THAT BROKE THE PLAINS/THE RIVER

Most things Disney, especially BAMBI, PINOCCHIO and SLEEPING BEAUTY

 

I'll chime in with some non-Hollywood titles of the period later, since the topic also opened for those.

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56 minutes ago, Thor said:

Virgil Thomson - THE PLOW THAT BROKE THE PLAINS/THE RIVER

 

I consider it a personal attack to include Thomson but not Copland ;)

 

His first two in Hollywood (Of Mice and Men, Our Town) are especially essential.

 

Although his score for The City, a documentary quite similar to Thomson's two scores, is also amazing!

 

 

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Yes, Copland is essential too. I don't have any individual Copland soundtracks, but I have the Orchestral Works 2CD set that includes the "Music for Movies" suite.

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5 minutes ago, Jurassic Shark said:

 

That's a great one as well, but for parts of the score my attention slips.

 

I do agree to an extent. But it has one of the greatest openings and finales in film music history

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3 hours ago, Thor said:

Victor Young - FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS/GOLDEN EARRINGS/OMAR KHAYAAM

Victor Young - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS

 

Must not mention Young without Scaramouche!

 

 

3 hours ago, Thor said:

Hugo Friedhofer - THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES

 

Or Friedhofer without The Sun also Rises:

 

 

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6 hours ago, GerateWohl said:

I think, in general Waxman and Herrmann are my favourite composers from the aera. 

Steiner and Rozsa are for me important references because you hear their work so much in later scores. Like Poledouris' Conan is Rozsa all over and Steiner's King Kong build the foundation for Williams' The Lost World in many ways.

The least so far I could warm up with Alfred Newman. Never heard anything that really excited me.

 

The Egyptian is absolutely essential and one of my all time favorite scores. Although I reckon most of the stuff I love about that score was composed by Herrmann, it's still as essential as they come, specially in the very affordable and perfectly sequenced re-recording

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2 hours ago, Thor said:

Yes, Copland is essential too. I don't have any individual Copland soundtracks, but I have the Orchestral Works 2CD set that includes the "Music for Movies" suite.

 

The re-recording of Of Mice and Men/Our Town that Naxos released I think in 2009 is eye-opening to be honest.  SO much more to those scores than what was chosen for the suite.  I'm afraid it's digital only and weirdly not available in the United States

 

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1 minute ago, Romão said:

 

The Egyptian is absolutely essential and one of my all time favorite scores. Although I reckon most of the stuff I love about that score was composed by Herrmann, it's still as essential as they come, specially in the very affordable and perfectly sequenced re-recording

 

I've never been able to get into that one, guess I'll have to try again! What do you think of LLL's release of the original recordings?

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3 minutes ago, Jurassic Shark said:

 

I've never been able to get into that one, guess I'll have to try again! What do you think of LLL's release of the original recordings?

 

It's the best release available of the original recordings, easily, but the re-recording is still my preferred performance and album arrangement

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6 minutes ago, Jurassic Shark said:

I've never been able to get into that one, guess I'll have to try again! What do you think of LLL's release of the original recordings?

 

I have the Morgan/Stromberg recording and the stuff from the Herrmann box, but it's never done much for me either.

 

Here's one more Newman classic:

 

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12 minutes ago, Jurassic Shark said:

I didn't know (or at least had forgotten) that Der Rosenkavalier originated as a film score.

 

What? It didn't. The Strauss/Hoffmansthal opera (based on an original libretto) premiered in 1911 - conducted by Max Reinhardt, if you want a film connection. It was turned into a film in 1925, for which Strauss himself adapted the music.

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3 minutes ago, Jurassic Shark said:

Oh, so it was the other way around. Does the score differ significantly from the original work?

 

I haven't heard it (although it was performed live to projection here a couple of years ago), but apparently it's on YouTube:

"Musik von Dr. Richard Strauss"

 

It starts out with the overture, although when the action begins, it's very much censored (unlike the music itself, which underscores the original… "action" during the main titles). There's no singing, obviously, which already makes it very different (considering the original opera has only a small number of purely instrumental passages). Judging from the first 10 minutes, it's the opera underscore re-sequenced and extended by new transitions and some entirely new passages. Also, many of the bits taken from the opera underscore scenes that have been considerably changed for the film, or stuff entirely unrelated to what happens in the original.

 

Interesting to see how the characters and their interactions have actually been simplified and streamlined for the film version because in those days, talking (singing) and acting at the same time was something that could be done in the opera, but not in a film. On the other hand, they've added side plots, including a battle, with entirely original music (I'm not watching the full thing here, just jumping around a bit).

 

Also funny how a few key locations very much remind me of the Otto Schenk staging that's been playing at the Vienna State Opera since 1968 (and has also, in slight variations, been used in Munich and at the Met). Though perhaps that's just the result of the original stage directions combined with the distinct Viennese setting. Or perhaps Schenk was inspired by the film (or by earlier productions that also inspired the film).

 

 

Hello Shelob?

 

 

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I heard now half of it and I really heard nothing that I might be able to remember or what doesn't sound like something else. And I am not a fan of those fanfares ar the beginning where I see before my inner eye always three guy in tights standing on a castle tower with long trumpets.

Not my cup of tea. 

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I never was interested in the pre-70s scores, because of well, first, the sound quality, then the style.

 

But recently, as I discovered the music of Bernard Herrmann (mainly with re-recordings)... and I liked it... So I was tempted to go back for the music from this... Golden Age.

 

Already, I knew all the "favourites" classics, because John Williams re-recorded many of them over the years (the two Itzhak Perlman Collab albums, the Hollywood Sound album, etc.).

 

Then I just bought the 12-CD Charles Gerhardt Boxset... and I know I will have hours and hours of discoveries ahead of me!

 

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This Erich Kunzel album "Cinema Vintage" also tempt me actually:

R-4613925-1369955944-5114.jpeg.jpg

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The Waxman album is probably my favorite from that series. The tracks from Bride of Frankenstein, Sunset Boulevard and Taras Bulba are specially fantastic.

 

And although it is not part of that boxset (since it was conducted by the composer himself), the Raksin album is also absolutely essential. This is hard to beat:

 

 

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