Today marks the 10th anniversary of the passing of Jerry Goldsmith, truly one of the greatest film composers of all time. Jerry brought us some of the most iconic scores in film and television history, including Planet of the Apes, Patton, Chinatown, The Omen, Alien, Poltergeist, Rudy, The Mummy, Rambo, Star Trek, and the list goes on and on. When I was studying Film Scoring at Berklee, I was constantly in aw of Jerry's musical vocabulary - whether a modern film composer is aware of it or not, I would be willing to bet that they have been influenced in one way or another by Goldsmith's music.
Jerry's love for movies and film music has been famously depicted in his quote "I remember when I was around 14 or 15, I saw Spellbound. I came out of the theater in love with Ingrid Bergman and in love with the score that Miklos Rozsa had written. At that point I made up my mind to do two things: marry Ingrid Bergman and write music for motion pictures." He did manage to make one of those dreams come true.
He got his start in film by zig-zagging first through the radio business and then through television, working as a clerk typist at the CBS music department around 1950, then composing for radio shows, and later composing for live television shows like Climax! and Playhouse 90. It wasn't until 1957 that he broke into the feature film world with Black Patch. He would continue to write for both TV and film for many years to come.
The thing I absolutely love about Jerry's style was the influence of 20th century classical styles, Americana, Impressionism, and atonal music, as well as jazz and ethnic instruments with the orchestra, which is widely used in today's scores. He has said his music was largely influenced by composers such as Copland, Stravinsky, Bartok, Berg and Bernard Hermann, among others.
Goldsmith was a true 20th century composer, and I would love to see more composers like him emerge in the modern film music world. One can only hope.
For a great read about Jerry Goldsmith, I recommend Jon Burlingame's article from 2004 on the Film Music Society website.
Film | Music
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