Thursday, July 22, 2004

Play "Chinatown" For Me....

The news that confronted the film music world this morning was not unexpected, but it's still terribly sad: Jerry Goldsmith has died, at the age of 75.

Goldsmith had been battling cancer for several years, and in more recent months, a certain sense of mortality has been creeping into the film music community with every announcement that Goldsmith has either left a film project or cancelled a concert appearance.

Goldsmith wrote music for literally hundreds of movies and television shows in a career that spanned decades. I really don't know what more to say than this. I adored a great deal of his music, although admittedly I was less impressed with his more recent work than many other film music fans. Still, a composer whose career includes such magnificent scores as Chinatown, The Wind and the Lion, The Omen, Legend, Total Recall, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Basic Instinct has to be considered among the very greatest voices that film music has had to offer. Among Goldsmith's many influences were Stravinsky, Ravel, and Copland; Goldsmith was also well known for his extensive use of electronica (he approached synthesized sounds as supplements to his orchestra, never as a replacement) and for his early avant-garde style in such scores as Planet of the Apes.

Now that Goldsmith has died, this leaves Elmer Bernstein and John Williams as the "grand old men" of film music. While I am more optimistic than many about the future of film music, what with people like Howard Shore and Thomas Newman moving to the fore, I still mourn the passing of a name that surely deserves to rank with Herrmann, Rozsa, Korngold and Steiner.

Farewell, Maestro Goldsmith. Your voice will be missed -- though long may it be heard.

(Thanks to Jayme Lynn Blaschke, who notified me via e-mail about Goldsmith's passing. He posts his own thoughts here.)

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