Tag Archives: Film Composer

Patrick Doyle Talks Cinderella (2015)

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Patrick Doyle talks Cinderella (2015)

In 2015 Cinderella became the latest Disney animated film to undergo the live-action remake treatment and the results were….okay (depending on who you ask). The biggest change between the 1950 original and this version is that the latter is not a musical (which I think is a real shame).

Unlike Maleficent, which told the Sleeping Beauty story from the perspective of the titular character, Cinderella basically retold the story straight (with various changes here and there, but nothing too extreme). And as beautiful as it looked in the previews, I couldn’t bring myself to watch it, as I grew up watching the animated film. Also, no offense, but Cate Blanchett has NOTHING on Eleanor Audley when it comes to playing Lady Tremaine (I watched a few clips to get an idea of the film).

One bright spot is Patrick Doyle’s score, created with an emphasis on romance. Doyle frequently collaborates with director Kenneth Branagh (including Hamlet and Thor) and the resulting music was well-received by critics. Doyle briefly mentions the score in a red carpet interview I was able to find for the film’s premiere (available in the link above). Doyle enjoyed creating the music for this film and described it as being “very eclectic.”

Unfortunately it is a very short interview, but I hope you enjoy it (if anyone can point me to a longer interview regarding this film, I will happily add it) 🙂

I’m glad everyone is enjoying Disturbing Disney so far; I just wanted to let you know that the next installment will come next week. Right now the university is on spring break and I’m working extra hours so I don’t have a lot of time to work on that series right now (that’s why I’ve been doing smaller posts thus far).

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Patrick Doyle, see here

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On this day in film history: Welcome Andre Previn!

On this day in film history, one of the most versatile musicians of the 20th century was born.

André Previn

Andre Previn is believed to have been born in 1929 (his birth records were subsequently lost when his parents fled Germany) to Jewish parents, and he began to study music from a relatively young age.

Previn came to the attention of Hollywood in 1948 when he began arranging and composing film scores.

Some of Previn’s more notable film scores include: Elmer Gantry (1960), The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1961) and Inside Daisy Clover (1965). Previn also arranged Andrew Lloyd Weber’s music for the film adaptation of Jesus Christ Superstar in 1973.

Besides a composer, Previn has also seen a thriving career as a jazz pianist and as a conductor (so essentially he’s had three careers all at the same time, which is an incredible feat).

Over the course of his life, Previn has received four Academy Awards and TEN Grammy Awards and at the age of 87 is still composing music to this day (though I believe he has long since retired from film scoring).

For more “On this day” posts, see here

On this day in Film History: R.I.P. Franz Waxman

On February 24th, 1967, the world lost a remarkable film composer when Franz Waxman (1906-1967) passed away. Waxman worked in Hollywood during the Golden Age of Movies and was a contemporary of Max Steiner, Erich Korngold and Alfred Newman (among others).

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Credit to franzwaxman.com

Waxman studied composition and conducting at the Dresden Music Academy and initially worked for the German film industry, orchestrating Friedrich Hollander’s score for The Blue Angel (1930) and creating his first film score for Liliom in 1934. However, being from a Jewish family, Waxman found himself subjected to a severe beating from Nazi supporters and left Germany that same year for Paris and then Hollywood.

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Once in Hollywood, Waxman made the acquaintance of director James Whale, which led to the composer working on the now-acclaimed The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). While the film was well-received, Waxman still left Universal Studio for MGM and it was while there that he composed the score for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 film Rebecca, the score that ultimately made his name in Hollywood.

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Other films that Waxman scored include (but are not limited to): Objective, Burma! (1945), Sunset Boulevard (1950), A Place in the Sun (1951), Taras Bulba (1962) and Rear Window (1954).

Though nominated multiple times for an Academy Award, Waxman only won twice: For Sunset Boulevard and A Place in the Sun. The great composer’s career ended with his death from cancer in 1967, having scored over 150 films. Franz Waxman was truly one of the greats in the world of film music.

*all film posters are the property of their respective film studios

For more “On this day” posts, see here

Before John Williams, there was…Korngold!

 

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People have asked me before who my favorite film composer is. And I usually answer with “Jerry Goldsmith” or “James Horner” because it’s true, their scores rank among my absolute favorites. But…if I were to be completely honest, the film composer I love the most, above all others, is Erich Wolfgang Korngold.

Adventures of Robin Hood Suite

If film music were a religion, Korngold would be a god, that is the influence his work made in the industry. And yet…for all that, there are many people who have no idea who this man is! I can understand that, since he passed away in 1957. His film score output is relatively small…but when you look at the scores he did, especially compared to his concert and operatic output, this man was a genius!

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The composer at work

He truly was a genius, a prodigy in fact. The story goes that the young Korngold was brought to play before the great Gustave Mahler (1860-1911) and after hearing his piece the aging composer declared “A genius!” At one time, Korngold was the toast of Vienna, even performing before the Emperor’s Court. He loved opera, and his 1920 opera Die Tote Stadt made him an international success at the age of 23.

Captain Blood Main Theme

Korngold actually came into film music quite by chance. In the early 1930s, Warner Bros. needed an arrangement of Mendelssohn’s “An Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for a film based on the Shakespeare play of that name. Someone brought up Korngold’s name, and he was invited to come to California to do the work. Intrigued, Korngold accepted, did the score and went back to Vienna. He was asked to do another score, Captain Blood (1935), again agreed, but then returned because another opera was nearing completion. Just at this time though, Hitler was rising to power (and keep in mind, Korngold was Jewish). Just before Austria was joined to Germany, Korngold received an invitation to score The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and the composer did not want to accept. He asked some of his friends and one finally told him to “take it as a sign from God and go!” So he went…and the next week Austria joined Germany and Korngold did not see his home again until after the end of the Second World War.

Since he had to reside in the United States for the time being, Korngold passed the years by working in Hollywood (he found it enjoyable work, as he saw great similarities between film and opera).

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During the war years, Korngold composed: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938); The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939); The Sea Hawk (1940); The Sea Wolf (1941); King’s Row (1942); and Deception in 1946. After 1946, Korngold did not write film music ever again.

At last, after the war, he was able to return home, but to his unending sorrow, he discovered that the times had changed greatly in the years he had been gone, and his music, once hailed as genius, was now considered old-fashioned and “boring.” The knowledge broke his heart, and he died in 1957 at the age of 60.

While in Hollywood, Korngold was treated as no composer has been, before or since. Because he was already a composer of such renown, he was allowed to, among other things, dictate his own contract. He could choose to score whatever films he wished, and however many (or few) he wished. And one of the biggest impacts came from Korngold’s request to have solo credit (meaning having only his name appear on the credit page for the music). This was unheard of at the time: go and look at the credits as they appear in any movie before The Adventures of Robin Hood and you will see, if the music is credited at all, it is one line in a page full of other credits. Korngold changed that.

And the reason Korngold is so special to me? It was by listening to his music, I mean really listening to it, that I realized that film music really could (and did) stand on its own, by its own merits. Listening to those film scores is what pushed me to specialize in film music, and I have never regretted it.

Overture to The Sea Hawk

Overture to Star Wars

In the title of this post, I linked John William’s name to that of Korngold. I did this because William’s style has been referred to as “neo-Korngoldian,” meaning he writes in a manner similar to Korngold’s, but reinvented for this era. In fact, listen to Korngold’s overture for The Sea Hawk (1940) and then the overture for Star Wars (1977) and hear for yourself the similarities: a loud brass fanfare followed by a romantic melody in strings (it’s not a coincidence).

If you have a favorite Korngold score, I would love to hear about it! Have a great day! -Bex

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