July 25, 2004 by

Jerry Goldsmith

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Categories: Hollywood, Musicians

jgoldsmith.jpgJerrald Goldsmith, an Academy Award-winning composer, died on July 21 after a long battle with cancer. He was 75.
The Los Angelino was only six years old when he first began to study music. Trained by famed pianist Jacob Gimpel and pianist/composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Goldsmith originally planned to enjoy a career in classical music. But a passion for movie scores blossomed after he viewed the 1945 Alfred Hitchcock thriller, “Spellbound,” at the University of Southern California. The film featured an Oscar-winning score written by his professor, Miklos Rozsa.
Goldsmith landed his first job in show business in 1950 as a typist at CBS. He eventually revealed his talent for writing music and was hired to create scores and theme songs for live radio programs and early TV shows, including “The Twilight Zone,” “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” “The Waltons” and “Dr. Kildare.”
The prolific and versatile composer’s film career took off in the early 1960s when he composed music for “Lonely Are the Brave” and “The Blue Max.” Over the next four decades, Goldsmith created hundreds of scores, building melodies and moods in films such as “Planet of the Apes,” “Patton,” “Chinatown,” “Poltergeist,” “Basic Instinct,” “Forever Young,” “First Knight,” “Mulan,” “The Mummy,” “L.A. Confidential” and the “Star Trek” movies.
Goldman was nominated for 17 Academy Awards, and won one for the 1976 horror film, “The Omen.” He received nine Golden Globe nominations and took home five Emmys. Goldsmith also taught a graduate course in music composition at the UCLA School of Music and composed the cantata, “Christus Apollo,” from the epic 1969 poem written by Ray Bradbury.
Filmography
Listen to NPR’s Appreciation of Goldsmith

One Response to Jerry Goldsmith

  1. Declan J Connaughton

    The first LP I ever had of Jerry Goldsmith was the score for “Poltergiest” in 1982. I always had a distinct ear for classical music which is why orchestral film scores have always appealed to me. I can remember very well listening to that score’s haunting melodies breathing life through my stereo system, and being overcome with the “Rebirth” movement of the piece. Steven Spielberg in his sleeve note used the term operatic when articulating “Poltergiest”‘s definition, and fellow composer John Williams has always maintained that film music at the close of this century will be what opera was to the last. You knew there was a serious composer at work, and a serious imagination, conjuring up nighttime beauty, but also fear and terror. And terror was something Jerry Goldsmith did very well.
    From the opening credits of “The Omen”, it is the jangly musical Oscar winning score which takes centre stage through it’s legendary combination of orchestra and chorus. It sets the ominous tone, and underlines the ultimate fatalism, as Gregory Peck tries to discover exactly where his diabolical child came from. Then there is the lone trumpet cry of “Patton”, a score which captures the essence of a man, through music, who was fanatical about being a soldier, and who believed himself to be reincarnated through all the battles in all the world. That score was lampooned by Goldsmith himself in “The Burbs”, and has made it’s way onto “The Simpsons”. For all Star Trek fans Goldsmith will forever be the voice of the starship enterprise, first “The Motion Picture” and then onwards with “The Next Generation”, culminating in the the majority of the Star Trek franchise and “Deep Space Nine”. “First Contact” being one of my favourites.
    There are other scores which clearly stamp Jerry Goldsmith into them – “The Cassandra Crossing”, “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” and “The Boys from Brazil”, as well as “The Swarm”, “Capricorn One” and “Outland”. He ventured west with “Wild Rovers”, “Bandelero”, “13 rifles” and “Rio Lobo” always embellishing his own unique colours. The turbulent and tragic final credit sequence of “In Harm’s Way” was another Goldsmith masterpiece and “The Blue Max” will always remain an eternal favourite of film music collectors.
    Part of the composer’s astonishing popularity was that he made the transition in film music from the nineteen fifties right on through to the present, adapting to modern film production and tastes. He was equally at home scoring for TV, with “The Waltons” and “Dr Kildare”. He was never shy of using unique sounds as in “MacArthur”, using the piano chords as an introduction. Modern scores such as “First Knight”, “Air Force One” and “The Haunting” all benefited from his expertise and his recent non film “Christus Apollo” harkens back to his essentially classical training and preference.
    There were a few “unused” scores such as “Legend”, now thankfully realised on CD.
    The first time I actually saw Jerry Goldsmith was on an interview on TV. His pony tail was the first thing that one noticed, tying back his almost luminous white hair. The other thing were his eyes. Jerry Goldsmith had very young eyes, almost like that of a child. You got the distinct impression that he would never be done experimenting, and his close friend Robert Towansand said that being with Jerry was like being on a magical adventure. While he won only one Oscar, his popularity would cry out for hundreds of Oscars, because he was hip. It was cool to listen to Jerry Goldsmith. He had that aura about him. Film composition was fun. If I was to play one track to send him on his way I think it would be the gentle Illy’s theme from “Star Trek – The Motion Picture”, or to be more dramatic the finale of “First Knight”.
    Jerry Goldsmith, like all truely great artists, will live on – either on celluloid, where his music loves and feels with the characters, but most especially on the thousands of silver discs whcih turn to bright and shining gold, with his passing.

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