[Article - Jerry Goldsmith (1929 - 2004)]

David Koran on Jerry Goldsmith:
A true creative giant has passed on today.

There had been discussions and concern for Jerry Goldsmith's health during the past few months, more noticeably since his score assignment for Looney Tunes: Back In Action. A man of immeasurable creativity, when assigned to help bring music to a multitude of genres of film, Goldsmith never disappointed when providing a result. He's been responsible for creating many ingrained themes, that even for those who don't follow film music would be hard pressed not to recognize. In short, there's now a gaping hole in the soul of Hollywood filmmaking today.

My first run in with Goldsmith, at least when it came to becoming a fan of film music, was my first film music score purchase. Shortly after I moved to Maryland, I ventured into the local music store, and browsed around until I eventually purchased the score to Total Recall. Now, granted, this had not been my first score purchase - tapes and records preceded this - but it was a discovery for me. Usually, what seeming separates the casual listener of film music to those that become fans of film music, is the step from Star Wars to something else. Jerry happened to be my "something else", since then my collection spans two rows of shelves, as Mr. Williams occupies half that room on another. This is not to just say that Goldsmith was more prolific than your usual composer, which he actually was, but that ownership of so many of his works speaks to the quality of his work as well.

Not to fill in where many other "In Memoriams" may already do with his background and some of his highlights, but this is a remembrance written by somebody who admires the work in context of where it was applied. Of a career in music that spanned almost fifty years, a number of Academy award nominations and a single win in 1976 for his work on The Omen. For a fan, there have been many more works in his repertoire that were worthy of high praise: sometimes overlooked if attached to a less than great film, or when the films were so good themselves, Jerry's work just added to greatness.

They say, at least in the film scoring world, (paraphrasing) that "a great score can't save a poor picture, but a good score can only help to make it better". Without Goldsmith's work on films like Alien, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Poltergeist, A Patch of Blue, Patton and Chinatown, I doubt the films would have truly had the impact they did with audiences. The music ranged from upwardly beautiful to downright scary and horrifying. Yes, the creature in Alien was scary as is, but really, do you think you wouldn't have been as scared if it weren't for the liberal application of strings and odd percussion, even the occasional brass flourish, to make you jump out of your seat at the right time?

Most of the people assigned to criticize film music, will usually point to one, and only one score, as a seminal work of genius, and at times, I've not agreed with this decision always, the example given is 1968's Planet of the Apes. Before then, we had mainly lush and melodic film scores for films from the birth of sound production until that time. Jerry took a sci-fi genre that didn't really get legs in until Lucas' Star Wars in 1977, and made it accessible, but still otherworldly by using a firm knowledge of successful film scoring and inventing new and interesting techniques to make the sound unique. Everybody thought that the odd sound was some weird, new instrument, but, alas, as a brass player myself, should have figured it was nothing but various "unhinged" instrument mouthpieces with a few studio tricks for their modification. That was the kind of interesting ideas Goldsmith brought to just about each project he was assigned to.

Goldsmith changed the way music was written for film. His use of electronics and computer scoring techniques foreshadowed the use of these tools in almost every aspect of film scoring today. Not unlike The Who in "Baba O'Reilly" (the electronic opening, heard during the trailer for A Bug's Life) and then later by Robert Palmer (known for "Addicted To Love" and "Some Guys Have All The Luck") and pioneer of MIDI (Music Instrument Digital Interface) for pop music he pioneered the use of electronic keyboards and synthesized sounds in film scoring. This was a big leap of faith, given that for many years, you hired (or even earlier, you were given) a recoding studio full of musicians to record the score. Now, over the past fifteen to twenty years, you've almost replaced the idea of musicians until the last step by reproducing the sound in a computer. Jerry originally used these techniques to augment his sound rather than replace it. My first notable effective use was his work on Medicine Man (an overlooked eco-film by Die Hard director John McTiernan) in 1992.  The synths added a bit more depth to the sound and helped provide an otherworldly sound to the ethnic themes. Some of his first work with these studio techniques, outside his foray on Planet of the Apes was his use of the echoplex to create a ghostly trumpet for the music in Patton (1970). This technique was later reproduced acoustically (without electronics) in a later recording of the score by The Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Jerry Goldsmith himself in 1997. He was always looking for new ways to explore sound and techniques to integrate into his style, now emulated by composers such as James Horner and Hans Zimmer and their current works.

There were the inevitable events where Jerry's style, or even end product, clashed with a director's vision. They are historic (and sometimes infamous) in the community to this day, and Mr. Goldsmith has had his fair share of rejection over the years. This of course, from a fans perspective, may seem like an injustice, given the talent and skill turned away, but it has happened to just about everybody. Some of Goldsmith's most notable toss-offs had led to some notable scores in their own. The score used for the theatrical release of Alien in 1979 was not as pure as intended, with parts of the temp score from Jerry's own work on Freud used in the final cut. Other work was, oddly by some standards, tossed out in an attempt to make a film more accessible to certain viewers, and for his experience, his score for Legend in 1985 was replaced for an American release by work by the band Tangerine Dream. Some of his other rejected and non-used items have made their way into the bootleg market and are regarded by fans of film music in general, as better than the music that actually stayed in the picture.

Jerry got his start in television before he became a giant in the film community. He's known for theme's for a number of popular series, from "The Waltons" to "The Man From U.N.C.L.E", to "Room 222" to "Barnaby Jones" but also a number of pieces for seminal series like "Star Trek" (for both "Voyager" and "The Next Generation") and "The Twilight Zone" of which, when the films were made of the series, Jerry composed the main themes and scores. He was also attached to a series of films, from The Omen, Rambo and Gremlins (he had on-screen cameos in both of those films).

I can only hope that people remember Jerry for the talented man he was and the lasting legacy of great music he has created. He's been the white-haired and "golden" thread that has tied together film for the past fifty years, working with past greats like John Huston, Robert Wise, Blake Edwards and Franklin Schaffner to current masters of the "silver screen" of Joe Dante, Ridley Scott, Stephen Sommers, Curtis Hanson and Wolfgang Petersen. He's influenced many of the current crop of headlining film composers, and has had a following within the community that was as stylistically important as Steiner's, Newman's, Rozsa's and Herrmann's. Jerry we'll miss you too!

Dan Goldwasser on Jerry Goldsmith:
My first Goldsmith score was Alien.  After that, I snatched up his scores as they were released, while slowly building up my collection of his older works. I remember driving to the outskirts of Pittsburgh to a specialty store just to pick up the Poltergeist CD when it was released, after wearing out my cassette copy.  Over the years, my Goldsmith collection has bloomed, to a staggering 140 albums - making it the largest in my personal archive. 

I had the good fortune to meet Goldsmith on many occasions.  The first was at the BMI Film & Television Music Awards in 1999.  At the time, he seemed like a formidable presence - a giant in our midst.  But as the years progressed, and I kept encountering him at concerts, award ceremonies, and scoring sessions, he came down in size.  After all, he was just a man, doing a job.  A job that he loved to do and that we all loved to have him do.

Whether it was his dark choir from The Omen, or his pounding percussion in Tora! Tora! Tora! or the soaring sweeping strings in Rudy, Goldsmith knew how to instill an emotional response in us.  The chills that I get when listening to "Rebirth" from Poltergeist or "The Bridge" from The Ghost and the Darkness might not be there for you, but they're there for me.  Everyone has different "triggers", but I'm sure that Goldsmith managed to find yours.

I'm glad I had an opportunity to talk with him at the scoring session to his last film, Looney Tunes: Back in Action.  At the time, he seemed to be doing alright, but was suffering from a bad cold.   In the past year or so, his health had not been great.  There had always been a rumor of one kind or another that his current project might be his last.  He had cancelled concert appearances, and couldn't even make it to his own birthday celebration in London this year. 

Two weeks ago, I attended the Hollywood Bowl's Television Night at the Bowl (which I recently wrote about).  They performed Goldsmith's suite of television themes, and even called him on the phone - because he was too ill to attend.  Knowing now that it was quite possibly the last public performance of his music that he would ever hear is truly a momentous thing for me. 

It's never easy when someone you admire and respect dies.  With Michael Kamen, it was sudden and unexpected.  With Ronald Reagan and Jerry Goldsmith, it might not have come a surprise, but it still affects us nonetheless.  We don't want to admit that they've moved on - and in many ways, it is much easier to celebrate their lives than mourn their passing.

We will never get a new score by Jerry Goldsmith, but there are plenty of older ones that still need to come out.  Film Score Monthly has been doing an excellent job on that, and while Varese Sarabande has announced 2004 as a "yearlong celebration of Goldsmith", we're still waiting.  Now would be the perfect time to move forward on that, and serve as a glowing tribute to this film score giant who has now moved on to greener pastures.

We're going to miss Goldsmith - there's no way we couldn't.  But we should celebrate his life and achievements this week, and so I would urge everyone reading this to take a minute to pull out your favorite Goldsmith score (if you haven't already) and listen to it.  I mean, really listen to it.  Close your eyes, and just listen.  Stop playing on the computer, don't drive your car.  Let the music wash over you, and fill you -  that is the best tribute one can make to this great composer.

Brian McVickar on Jerry Goldsmith
During the last few years when Goldsmith's output has diminished, I was really becoming disheartened by having so few of his scores to look forward to, but in the end, I guess it was preparing me for today.   He was and always will be my favorite film composer, one of those rare composers where I inexplicably enjoyed everything he wrote for every genre bar none, every note sinking right into my bones and simply making perfect sense. 

My first exposure was through his music for science fiction films, specifically Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but thank goodness my late father exposed me to such gems as Patton, The Blue Max, Von Ryan's Express and Tora! Tora! Tora!, these scores leading further into the marvelously diverse world of Goldsmith scores.  I remember seeing Planet of the Apes on late night television and being bewildered by the music, then seeking out the painfully abbreviated album from Project 3. But it was all I had and I enjoyed it (thanks to Varese for the complete release!).   I still feel connected to my late father when listening to certain Goldsmith scores; the man's music somehow seems to reflect my father's qualities of diversity, humor, directness and heart.  My father was a pilot in the Navy, so inevitably The Blue Max was a favorite of his and it never fails to give me chills and sometimes tears when I hear that soaring theme.

He has left a phenomenal legacy, hours of exceptional music for television, film and the stage, so there is some comfort in knowing I can always revel in this and yet I am still so saddened at the realization that there will be no more new music from Goldsmith.  Perhaps he said all he wanted to say musically after almost five decades in the business, but I still feel that every new score from him had the potential to be a new classic, a new masterpiece with marvelous melodic quality and new soundscapes by which to be dazzled.   His effect on film music may never be fully appreciated by the masses, but I for one am glad that his music touched my life, my father's life and countless more in a positive, genuine way which we will never forget...

Daniel Brecher on Jerry Goldsmith
I've always found it impossible to write without the aid of music, and invariably a great tower of various film scores and classical works are always at my side whilst I work. The music of Jerry Goldsmith would usually get its own tower, the "Jerry pile" as I'd dub it. Whether I simply created a separate area for his scores subconsciously because I simply own so many of them I am unsure, but sure enough as I write this I find I've done it again.

A reach to my left and I pick up something from Williams, the Newman clan, Miklos Rosza, Morricone, Elmer Bernstein and so on... A reach to my right and it is Patton, Rudy, Poltergeist, The Sand Pebbles, Planet of the Apes, The Omen... The stack of undeniably varied work that never ceases to inspire me goes on.

I've had the pleasure of seeing Goldsmith conduct the LSO in London more times than I can honestly remember now. Earlier this year a concert in honour of his 75th birthday was staged, a concert in which he was forced to pull out of. Many were of course saddened (some unfairly frustrated) by the news he would not conduct personally, but the show went on, his fans showed up and the music remained a marvel.  The music will always remain a marvel, and though we will never see him again, his spirit truly lives on in the music whenever it is heard, and whenever it is performed.

Mike Brennan on Jerry Goldsmith:
"Legendary" is the best word that could describe Jerry Goldsmith's career. His work spanned the better part of five decades and he composed some of the most memorable and classic themes of Hollywood: from the triumphant Rudy to terrifying Alien, the epic Lionheart to the classic Star Trek, the chilling Basic Instinct to his magnum opus for the Omen trilogy, and so many more. Nominated for 17 Academy Awards, though he only took home one golden statue for 1976's The Omen, Goldsmith's work redefined film scoring and his music will live on forever as his legacy.

The first soundtrack I ever purchased was his score to Congo in 1995. I remember being taken aback by the powerful theme accompanying the images of Africa during the main titles, and my amazement at his ability to create and use themes in his scores has never ceased. Goldsmith wrote scores for many different types of film; some of his best work accompanied some quite unremarkable films, but he maintained the quality of his writing no matter the project. Some of my favorites of his older scores include Night Crossing, Final Conflict, and Lionheart. Because he had been struggling with his health for the past few years, his work slowed down, with only a few projects during the new millennium. The last high point in his lengthy career came in the late 1990's with a stream of incredible scores including Air Force One (1997), Mulan (Academy Award nomination - 1998), The Mummy (1999), and The Thirteenth Warrior (1999).

In his final years, Goldsmith still put out a few great works, including the last installment of the Star Trek movies, Star Trek: Nemesis, ending a series of scores he began in 1979 with Star Trek: The Motion Picture. In 2001, when America was saddened by the attacks on 9/11, Jerry Goldsmith stepped up and reworked his theme for The Last Castle to a memorial for those lost, titled "September 11, 2001" which closes the soundtrack album. It is one of the most poignant and beautiful pieces of his career. The following year, accompanying his "Christus Apollo" classical release, was the concert piece "Fireworks", a celebration composition that exemplifies his career with an eight minute patriotic tribute, full of classic Goldsmith brass writing.

I was only conscious of Goldsmith's brilliant (this term is 100% appropriate here!) talent for less than a fifth of his career and it will take me many more years to fully appreciate his work. My deepest sympathies go out to the Goldsmith family for their - and the world's - loss.

Matt Scheller on Jerry Goldsmith
The world has suffered a true loss.  Jerry Goldsmith was one of the finest film composers to have ever lived.  With over 250 scores to his name, his music has graced the silver screen over forty years.  I can truly say that a large portion of who am I is a result of Mr. Goldsmith.  With my film score collection approaching 1,000 albums, almost a tenth of those CDs are Goldsmith's.  His music has captivated my imagination and inspired the best out of me.

I will remember him for his signature orchestrations.  That sound... that wonderful Goldsmith sound.  Like many other movie music geeks, when I first began collecting film scores I was an action junkie.  I loved fierce orchestral adrenaline (come to think of it, nothing has changed!)  So naturally scores like Rambo III, The 13th Warrior, First Knight and King Solomon's Mines were being overplayed.  Friends of mine still yell, "I'm sick of hearing that!" when I play Air Force One.  As I got older, my taste in film music began to branch;  I sought out more personal music and Jerry Goldsmith was able to provide that as well.  He was gifted with versatility. 

Among the countless genres he wrote for, Maestro Goldsmith re-imagined the sound of science fiction with Planet of the Apes and the sound of horror with The Omen.  But I must say that out of all his music, his dramatic writings have touched me the most.  His music for the film Rudy has always been there for me.  Like a best friend, that score is there to comfort me when life isn't going so well.  I can't really ask for anything else from a true artist.

He may be gone, but his legacy has left an impact on so many aspiring and working film composers.  I've read countless interviews with film composers and many of them mention that Jerry was their reason and inspiration for going into that field of work.  He survives through their music and even through us, his fans, with every Goldsmith score we listen to.

Thank you so much Jerry Goldsmith, for inspiring me.

Francel Diaz Leñero on Jerry Goldsmith
Being a very impressionable kid at 11 was a hard job, I absorbed everything I could, especially music. I used to pretend I liked horror films, no matter how frightened I could get, so I stayed up late for some horror movies. One day, I checked the TV Guide to see what was going on. The Omen. Ok. I had heard someone at school saying it was absolutely horrifying, awful, and unbearable to watch. Sounded like something I could enjoy (or perhaps not) and I was determined to watch it.

I ran late to the living room, turned off all the lights, turned on the TV, volume up, it was barely starting and then… the first bars of the choral theme began and I stood there, petrified. I ran for a blanket and hid beneath it but couldn’t help but being terrified and fascinated at the same time by the music. Without really knowing, I was hooked on film music and have been for all my life since then. Every time a cue started I approached the TV set to try and really listen.

Then my parents took me to see a re-run of Night Crossing at a local theater... I was swept away by the score, so inspiring and moving. And something, somehow clicked. I ran to check a film guide my parents had and then a record my brother kept called Twilight Zone: The Movie and then I knew. This man had managed to scare the pants off me and made feel incredibly moved, heroic and victorious. I had learned the name of Jerry Goldsmith and it wasn’t going to slip my mind never again.

I began collecting the scores. I expected the best once I read his name on the credits and on almost each one of those occasions I was not disappointed. Then I began to discover his past works and felt absolutely impressed at the craft and power he commanded to the orchestra and the way he made me feel with such exciting, moving, terrifying and marvelous scores.

I hate to see him leave us, but his legacy of film and television scores will be always there for us. Jerry Goldsmith composed grandly and made us pay attention and listen, and even 50 years from now, we will still be listening.

Bravo, Maestro.