ON THE LOSS OF JERRY GOLDSMITH
LETTERS FROM OUR READERS
FROM: "Deborah Young-Groves"
I cannot recall a time in my life when I was NOT aware of Jerry Goldsmith.
It has been so from his earliest works: from the soaring poignant DR. KILDARE
to the elegant FIRST KNIGHT (and an ocean of sound in between).
His scores were always provocative. He was reminiscent of Joseph Haydn,
(who would insert a sudden loud chord in order to keep his guests from
sleeping after dinner when they should have been paying attention!) Mr.
Goldsmith would throw in refreshing rhythm changes which kept his music
eternally fresh and challenging.
I know THE SAND PEBBLES was one of his personal favourites. After falling
in love with that album (hey it was 1966!) and so many others... THE CHAIRMAN...
IN HARM'S WAY... A PATCH OF BLUE... JUSTINE... it got so that I would attend
a movie motivated solely by his name. Didn't care WHAT the subject matter
was... if Jerry did the music, it was good enough for me.
I was privileged to be one of the guests of MR. EARLE HAGEN who celebrated
his 85th birthday at the Hollywood Bowl's Celebration of Television Themes
on July 9th. The 93 piece orchestra also played a medley of Mr. Goldsmith's
television scores. Alas, he was too ill to attend, but the conductor telephoned
him, and kept the phone line open so he could hear the arrangement. It
was a lovely moment, but not until now did I realize how bittersweet.
You are immortal, Jerry Goldsmith.
FROM: "Keith Savage"
With the recent tragic passing of Jerry Goldsmith, I felt I, like many
I'm sure, needed to say something about the composer whose music has meant
more to me than any composer in any medium. I am an independent filmmaker
and I find the listening of film scores essential to my writing process.
I don't know if other people create in this way, but before I start to
write, I fill my CD changer with soundtracks that are appropriate to the
mood I want to convey in my script. Jerry Goldsmith, being my favorite
composer, greatly dominated my musical selections. Just by listening to
the pace, mood, and tempo of the music I would get into a sort of trance
which would allow me to write. It would get to the point where I don't
feel like I'm writing any more. It's as if I am improvising with the composer
in a Jazz session and we are collaborating on the script. I can't say how
many times I have actually conceived the ending of a script just by hearing
a piece of music. No composer has had a greater impact on my writing than
Jerry Goldsmith. His music is not just a creative outlet for me though.
His music has always been an endless joy to listen to, and will continue
to be. Now I never met Jerry Goldsmith, nor would he ever have been aware
of my existence, so it feels strange to have strong feelings about the
loss of someone I have never met. He has always been a sort of Santa Claus
to me. I would see the odd picture of him, but he would leave the odd gift
for me at the music store. There would be a great deal of excitement over
what would Jerry do every year. What ideas would his music inspire? But
now that he is gone the world of film music will never be the same. It's
a selfish statement, as only the family and friends of Jerry Goldsmith
can truly appreciate the loss. We are only admirers of a very creative
man, and this man was greater than his music. I can only hope that the
love and praise given by fans will help the Goldsmith family through this
terrible time. This man has meant so much to so many people who never met
him. I feel like I have lost a close, personal collaborator, who gave more
to fans of his music than anyone should be expected to. His volume of work
is larger and more diverse than only a handful of composers. He and his
music will live on as long as we keep listening to it. Jerry, wherever
you are, I can't thank you enough. Rest in peace. You will never be forgotten.
FROM: "Jeff Heise"
SUBJECT: Death of a giant
I just received word of the death of Jerry Goldsmith. Even though he
hadn't been as prolific in the last year or so, it is nice to know that
his last score (LOONEY TUNES-BACK IN ACTION) was a terrific one and a sweet
I had the honor of attending a concert of the maestro at Descanso Gardens
here in LA 7 years ago, and to see that magnificent white ponytail moving
energetically to his conducting was quite a treat.
I think only John Williams passing would shock and sadden me more,
and I hope that is not for a while. I will now go home and play "Ilia's
Theme" from STAR TREK-THE MOTION PICTURE and get a little misty-eyed. Then,
I'll probably blast the opening of THE BLUE MAX just blow the dust off
my speaker cones and send the music Jerry's way.
God bless you, maestro!!
FROM: "James L. Perry"
SUBJECT: Losing Greatness - Jerry Goldsmith
Jerry Goldsmith was not my favorite film composer, but he is certainly
a close second. His style always struck me with a clarity unmatched by
other men. His cues were neither broad nor the cookie-cutter types. They
ever and always belonged to the scene for which they were originally intended.
The 13th Warrior might have sounded similar to The Mummy, but they were
There has never been any doubt that Jerry Goldsmith knew how to score
a scene, regardless of its genre or mood. He was truly an example that
anything could be done, and with excellence. It will be a pleasure every
year to pay tribute to a great composer and great man when we listen to
the Theme for Oscar at the Academy Awards.
I had the chance to see Williams in concert, and I hoped one day to
do the same for Jerry Goldsmith. It was with great sadness that I learned
of his death Thursday afternoon, and another chance to see greatness has
passed. It came as a shock, no doubt to many of us, and I nearly wept.
May God have infinite mercy reserved for him.
FROM: "Amer Zahid"
In my young days of film music discovery, courtesy the music of John
Williams, I had decided that only full fledged 100 piece orchestral scores
were the best. But upon stumbling the works of Jerry Goldsmith who not
only used 100 piece orchestras but electronics and otherworldy sound effects
(all created acoustically)- my perception for film music took a whole new
turn and enhanced my continued admiration for maestro Goldsmith. In the
early salad days of Film Score Monthly magazine, I remember discussing
Mr. Goldsmith's output with Lukas Kendall.. We were always struck but the
incredible compositional range of his works, his vernacular chameleonlike
skills to camouflage with every new film project and yet able to produce
a whole new original work which always left us in sheer awe and admiration.
Jerry Goldsmith was the most prolific and most versatile composer ever
to grace the silver screen. His output over the last four decades has been
phenomenal. Goldsmith had thrilled us, scared us, moved us and given a
whole new meaning to the phrase "music of the spheres" with his phenomenal
music for the STAR TREK movie franchise. Amongst his peers like Bernard
Herrmann, Alex North, John Williams and John Barry- Goldsmith was a TITAN
and he leaves behind a sterling legacy. A magnificent life fulfilled. Farewell,
FROM: "Scott McIntyre"
He didn't know me, but he made an impact on my life. He'd probably think
I was some "soundtrack nut" who was "collecting his albums like bottlecaps".
While, yes, I am the former, I was particular about the latter. Why? Why
not just pick up every score Jerry had ever done? Because he didn't want
me to. I love his work and will continue to seek out scores of his undiscovered
by me, but I will not buy blindly simply because it's by "Jerry Goldsmith".
He would have hated that.
Was there work of his I didn't not appreciate or enjoy? Of course there
was, but his influence on the industry, on me personally was immense. If
any one composer could get me heart pumping, my blood going and put a silly
grin on my face, it was Jerry. And thanks to FSM and Varese Sarabande,
I've been able to savor his early work, like Studs Lonigan, The Sand Pebbles,
Patton, 100 Rifles, Rio Conchos and so on.
I'm sure you'll get hundreds of tributes from fans and I feel silly,
rambling and meandering about a man I never met, who never knew me. I should
shrug it off like so many other celebrity deaths, but I can't. I feel like
I lost something intangible, something which inspired my own creativity.
It's a sad day for many people, me least of all.
Somewhere, in that great recording studio in the sky, Jerry is about
to conduct God's soundtrack. And God's standing there impressed, wishing
he could sport a ponytail as cool as that at his age.
His body of work remains, hopefully available for generations to enjoy.
But remember, buy judiciously. Don't collect 'em like bottlecaps.
Jerry wouldn't like that.
FROM: "Louis Banlaki"
SUBJECT: Farewell to the Master
Like everyone else, I was terribly saddened to hear the news on the
passing of Jerry Goldsmith. As everyone knows from my past letters to FSM
he was my all time favorite, to me, the best that ever was at what he did.
Whenever I saw his name connected with a film it always meant quality,
distinction, and so many other superlative adjectives that escape me at
the moment. His music was always exciting and as we all know, innovative.
His driving action writing is without equal and he reigned supreme. He
was one of the greatest composers of the 20th century and his death has
left such a huge void in the world of music that it can never be filled.
Even though I have well over a hundred of his scores in my collection
I hunger for more. The man has written so much great music in his life,
enough perhaps for two lifetimes. Now would be a good time to release the
CD of his rejected score from TIMELINE.
I don't know what else to write because I have too many thoughts running
in my mind about him but at least I had the honor to meet him when he came
here to Baltimore back in 1990 to do a concert. I always called him Mr.
Goldsmith, never Jerry like so many fans did because that seemed disrespectful
to me. I didn't know him to call him by his first name. But my heartfelt
sorrow goes out to his friends and family.
I will miss his great talent. He was as big a genius in film music as
Bernard Herrmann was. Maybe even bigger. There will NEVER be another like
him, God bless him.
Thank you, Mr. Goldsmith, for your genius, your innate dramatic sense
and for your great music. I feel blessed to have been enraptured by the
beauty and power of your music. Your music means so much to me. Thank you.
FROM: "Gary Kester"
I have no doubt whatsoever that the FSM mailbag will be inundated with
letters about the tragic passing of Jerry Goldsmith, which was actually
less than twenty-four hours ago as I write this. His loss to film music,
it is suffice to say, is vast, and only matched by the legacy he leaves
for filmmakers, composers and audiences old and new who were touched, influenced
and occasionally completely overwhelmed by his unique imagination and artistry.
Given the notorious, shall we say, zeal of some sections of the Goldsmith
fan-base, reaction to the news was typically swift - a check on some online
forums saw a mix of the respectful, the measured, the reflective and, inevitably
(and sadly mostly), the hyperbolic shriekings of the hardcore maniacs Mr.
Goldsmith himself never had much time for (he termed them "bottle cap collectors"
- the type of people who willingly pay vast sums for a CD-R of an unreleased
score masquerading as a "limited archival pressing", which is merely eBay
speak for "bootleg", and who measure the "greatness" of a score by how
few other people have a copy).
Comments I have read today ranged from people expressing disbelief that
Goldsmith actually COULD die, despite his well-publicized long illness
and the fact that, for all his talent, he was merely a mortal, to several
people hinting THEIR lives were now just about over. There was even one
truly monumental idiot who compared the impact his death to September 11th
2001. Quick, someone invent a moron-filter for web-browsers! And then there
were the listsÍ Lots of lists. "My favourite JERRY scores are..."; "I can
never again listen to..."; "The price of this will rocket now..."; and,
perhaps worst of all for me, "If you're a REAL JERRY fan then you'll listen
to THESE tonight"...
I mean hey, if it helps the grieving process then by all means list
your top ten Goldsmith scores on a posting, though personally I'll keep
mine to myself for two reasons - firstly, they tend to flux with my fickle,
ever-changing moods, and secondly, because I suspect nobody else would
really give a rat's ass. And if you want to suggest a playlist to commemorate
his passing, again fine. However, don't tell ME that I'm being disrespectful
if I don't play it! Personally I've been at work all day, I've got red
wine, major girlfriend cuddles and the last episode of 24 to look forward
to tonight, and there's no way right now that I'm going to tell a six-year
old girl that she has to turn off her Piglet's Big Movie DVD and go to
bed early because nasty Gary is feeling grumpy wants to play his boring
Don't get me wrong, the passing of Jerry Goldsmith has made me feel
profoundly sad, but have a little perspective people. I really do think
of myself as a REAL Goldsmith fan. I enjoy his music, I admire his creativity,
and I even get to express my knowledge and views by writing the odd set
of liner notes about his work for Prometheus Records. But it is not the
be-all and end-all of my life. Furthermore, and it may shock some people
to know this, but it wasn't the be-all and end all of HIS either. The man
had a family, he enjoyed his life. I had the chance to have a long conversation
with him once, and he really didn't like to talk music. He preferred to
just do it. He seemed more keen to chat about art and literature, much
as anyone else hates to talk shop all the time. God, he must have found
the constant bombardment of "why does this cue run 57 seconds on the album
but 65 seconds in the film" inane and repetitive. And people wonder why
he sometimes seemed a little tetchy with fans... Absolutely, he took his
work seriously, and he certainly knew the fear of the blank page and the
thrill of the emerging idea, but after most scores were completed he was
happy to forget them and move onto the next.
And, lest we forget, he was not the only talented composer to ever live
and work this way. Did Alex North, Franz Waxman or Miklos Rozsa get all
this hoo-hah when they passed away? Jerry Goldsmith was unique, flexible,
innovative, but he had predecessors and peers whose musical achievements
were equally noteworthy. I mean, just what was it about Jerry Goldsmith
that made him the target he was for the more obsessive? The truth is hardly
any of his fans ever met or knew the man (certainly not enough to call
him "Jerry", though that never stopped most folk), and if they did it was
maybe in passing as he signed your album at a concert (I still relish a
moment in Nottingham in 1994 when some bloke said to Goldsmith "Actually,
we've met before - you signed my album at a concert in 1979! ". God, I
wish I'd taken a photo of Mr. Goldsmith's reaction).
For myself, I can claim to have known him more than most, but this
was still hardly at all. I met Mr. Goldsmith several times during my stint
as editor of the Goldsmith Society journal Legend (a post I eventually
had to leave because I was becoming depressed and intimidated by the obsessive
and defensive nature of some of the members, and also because I could worryingly
see some of it in myself - time to step back, I thought). Anyway, in this
role I got to attend some of his scoring sessions and even had lunch with
him once (and I'm glad he paid, as the restaurant bill was mortifying!)
So, right now, while I surely feel his loss, it's not on the same level
of losing someone personally close to me. I knew his music, not him, and
so I can't shed a tear for Jerry Goldsmith. If anything, I more likely
could for his family, his friends and his colleagues, who will be missing
him in immeasurably more profound and affecting ways.
Truth be told, while his passing is tragic, Jerry Goldsmith lived a
long, fulfilled and decent life. He loved his family, his work and (most
of the time) his fans, and quite properly in that very order. He found
great success in work he loved, and earned the kind of money that enabled
him to spend silly amounts on the odd seafood lasagne for a geeky, relative
Of course I still feel loss, but only because that there will be no
more music from his remarkable mid and fingers. This said, he has left
us more than enough to confirm his stature as one of the greatest composers
to ever live. If you really want to pay your respects, start by not paying
silly prices on eBay for bootlegs. Let us remember Jerry Goldsmith for
his artistic achievements, not his collectability, and also give thanks
for the fact that when his end came, it came peacefully, pain-free and