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 Posted:   Feb 5, 2008 - 4:32 PM   
 By:   LeHah   (Member)

The 1978 episode entitled "The Music That Made the Movies" features host Andre Previn conducting music from Max Steiner's Now Voyager and Bernard Herrmann's Psycho. Later, Previn interviews Miklos Rozsa and a (rather young!) John Williams who was fresh off of Superman at the time. Later on, Rozsa conducts a suite from Ben-Hur and Williams the finale from Close Encounters and the march from Superman.

The $20,000 question is - why hasn't this ever made it to DVD? Its an outstanding watch with some very warm moments between composers, discussing everything from Stravinsky trying to get work at MGM, to why Jascha Heifetz wasn't a success (!!!) and even a brief talk about Bernard Herrmann (and a fine anecdote about Herrmann recording The Day The Earth Stood Still!)

Does anyone out there - Lukas, Ford, etc - have any info on this amazing hour of television?

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 5, 2008 - 4:53 PM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

If we can locate it tonight in our own Collected Works, we may have a surprise for you tomorrow. Check back then ...

 
 Posted:   Feb 5, 2008 - 4:54 PM   
 By:   LeHah   (Member)

If we can locate it tonight in our own Collected Works, we may have a surprise for you tomorrow.

No offense - I'd like to see it get an OFFICAL release, not unlike the wonderful Lean By Jarre CD/DVD combo out two years ago.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 5, 2008 - 4:58 PM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

None taken ... and we're referring to an original review of said program, not - alas! - a visual transcription. WOULD THAT IT WERE! ...

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 5, 2008 - 5:16 PM   
 By:   crazyunclerolo   (Member)

A year or two ago, the Miklos Rozsa Society offered to their members a dvd-r of that program, and it certainly is a blast.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 5, 2008 - 6:12 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

I would love to see a DVD of what must have been a truly grand program.

(LeHah, if you get a chance, check my profile and send me an e mail. Thanks.)

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 6, 2008 - 12:01 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

None taken ... and we're referring to an original review of said program, not - alas! - a visual transcription. WOULD THAT IT WERE! ...

I may be stealing neotrinity's thunder here, the the mention of this program brought to mind the comments on it by the redoubtable Page Cook in the June/July 1979 issue of Films In Review. To wit:

“Last year the PBS broadcast an hour special entitled ‘The Music That Made the Movies’ emanating from Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts in Pittsburgh and hosted and conducted by Andre Previn with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. I cannot account for what it is exactly in Mr. Previn’s private make-up and distaste for the medium of film and the art of filmusic that results in so condescending and pretentious an attitude (especially when after having elected to appear in conjunction with so-said subject matter) but the effect of Previn’s elitist posture vitiated whatever merits the program might have had otherwise. Previn conducted excerpts from Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kije suite, the march and battle from Korngold’s The Adventures of Robin Hood, two passages from Walton’s Henry V and two movements from Copland’s The Red Pony. After wryly commenting that Jerry Goldsmith ‘is to aeroplanes what William Walton was to knights in armour’ Previn played an extended passacaglia from Goldsmith’s The Blue Max. For this musical excerpt the unprepossessing Mr. Previn specifically donned a pair of spectacles and read from the score—which he had not done in any of the earlier passages—a bit of snobbism that could not have been lost even on the village idiot. The show ended with some warmth and genuine regard for the art with the appearance of John Williams who spoke affectionately and admiringly of the composers who devoted their lives to film and about whom Previn felt beneath himself to deign mention of in relation to “real music” for films. Previn’s interjections, including a vulgar anecdote about Lassie, further exacerbated the already arch quality that had gone a long way to ruining the program for filmusic devotees. Williams conducted two sequences from his Star Wars suite and after some closing comments by Previn the show concluded. Previn’s contemptuous demeanor and flagrant abuse, on a hardly subtle level, was that of a puling schoolboy reprimanded after class. As one composer acquaintance of mine later remarked: ‘That the industry is not nice to everyone is no news, and while the specially gifted fellows, among whom Previn is not the only one to feel justifiably victimized, are treated with a scorn and venality about which they certainly have the right to bristle; you know the old adage, if the kitchen is too hot get out. Which is what Previn did. He chose to exeunt our world of tinseldom and to his credit became a first-class symphonic conductor. However, his continued put-down of us fellows who elected to stay and weather out the cinema fires is not only poor cricket and sour grapes it’s a personal indication of a severely lacking comprehension of problems he, of all people, should have empathy with.’”

 
 Posted:   Feb 6, 2008 - 12:35 AM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)

"I cannot account for what it is exactly in Mr. Previn’s private make-up and distaste for the medium of film and the art of filmusic that results in so condescending and pretentious an attitude (especially when after having elected to appear in conjunction with so-said subject matter) but the effect of Previn’s elitist posture vitiated whatever merits the program might have had otherwise. ”

You can see what Cook means, but he's not looked round enough corners here. When you look at Previn's own film-music, it's clear he has regard and respect for what the genre CAN be. But I think personally that Previn has a special agenda and treads a fine line. His agenda would have been to get film-music taken seriously. But for him 'taken seriously' means not just by the public and the establishment, but also by the composers themselves. In other words, he wanted the GOOD film-music recognised. His reading from Goldsmith's WONDERFUL passacaglia scoresheets is not 'snobbism'. It's meant to engage the 'serious' music fan by saying, 'Look: this is worth examination: look at the skill involved.' And his particular technique (he knows who he's dealing with!) involves demeaning Hollywood whilst elevating the music. When Previn was in London with the LSO, he showed a very different side. He was always the popularizer (never bastardizer or cheapener though) of concert music, well loved, even little things like his appearance on the Morcambe and Wise show. On his return to LA, he was attacked by REAL snobs for attending rehearsals in a tracksuit etc..

He is a diplomat, treading the fine line. Nowadays, with film-music as it is, I think he'd steer well away from praising it as an artform, but he knows his audiences and plays accordingly, sometimes playing along with their prejudices (whilst showing by what film-music he conducts that this stuff is really quite GOOD), at other times openly provoking the snobs with his tracksuits etc.. He's a chess player, with the big picture in mind. But it's 'a prophet in his own country'. He COMPENSATES whatever imbalances his audiences have at a given time! To snobs he's a popularizer, to others he raises the bar. But the OVERALL effect is that he HAS made film-music more 'respectable'.

 
 Posted:   Feb 6, 2008 - 3:28 AM   
 By:   LeHah   (Member)

I may be stealing neotrinity's thunder here, the the mention of this program brought to mind the comments on it by the redoubtable Page Cook in the June/July 1979 issue of Films In Review.

He must've seen something else because not only did none of the music listed in your post play in the version I saw - but Previn was a very warm and humorous host!

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 6, 2008 - 4:15 AM   
 By:   crazyunclerolo   (Member)

Yes, that review referred to a different program than the one we were discussing. (It seems increasingly fortunate to me that I never heard of Page Cook until he was long dead!)

 
 Posted:   Feb 6, 2008 - 6:09 AM   
 By:   Doug Raynes   (Member)

Here's a review of the program by Steve Vertlieb, which was published in the Fall 1979 issue of Cinemacabre:

"On April 10, 1979, PBS and its affiliated stations throughout the country presented the most unique and eagerly awaited event of the musical season. Entitled simply Movie Music, this edition of Public Television’s celebrated Previn and the Pitsburgh series offered an hour of film music selections conducted by Previn and his guests Miklos Rozsa and John Williams. The program, beautifully directed by Rodney Greenburgh at WQED-TV in Pittsburgh before a live audience, featured generous suites from Max Steiner’s Now Voyager, a superb performance of Psycho by Bernard Herrmann and a wonderful program of music conducted by the program’s guest composers.

Host Andre Previn moderated an informal discussion of the problems faced by composers who score for films, a scintillating and often provocative conversation which yielded several telling anecdotes about the men who made the movies. Miklos Rozsa related the sad but humorous story of Igor Stravinsky’s flirtation with Hollywood. Summoned by Louis B. Mayer to his office on the MGM lot, Stravinsky was saluted by Mayer as the world’s greatest living composer. Stravinsky bowed. “Since MGM is the greatest motion picture studio and you are the greatest composer,” Mayer went on, “it is only natural that you come to work at MGM.” Stravinsky bowed again. “Now, Mr Stravinsky, how long would it take you to write about one hour of music for a motion picture?” Mayer asked. Stravinsky thought briefly of Le Sacre Du Printemps and its approximately one hour of music. Looking up again at Mayer he replied, “It would take one year to write one hour of music.” Mayer, turning white, replied “Goodbye, Mr Stravinsky.”

It is a sad but irrefutable fact that this kind of situation has changed little in recent years despite the plethora of youthful enlightened producers and directors now running the studios. While an important motion picture may be in production for a year or longer, the composer is seldom allowed more than a few weeks in which to write the music. It is all the more remarkable, then, that much of the most outstanding symphonic music of the twentieth century has been that written expressly for films.

As if to better illustrate this point, the program devoted its second half to the performance of suites from Ben-Hur conducted by its composer Miklos Rozsa, and John Williams’s music for Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Superman, each consisting of an hour of music in its original form. It was the late Alfred Newman who once remarked to a colleague, “My God, if we only had the time…can you imagine the music we could write?”

Rozsa, looking well and astonishingly fit, delivered an energetic and commanding interpretation of his Oscar-winning score during an exceedingly rare television appearance. Indeed, his single previous appearance was in the summer of 1963 when CBS Television presented another one hour special, Music from Hollywood, in which Rozsa joined Bernard Herrmann, Franz Waxman and Dimitri Tiomkin in a program of their music recorded at the Hollywood Bowl on September 25 of that year.

John Williams, as always a thoughtful, introspective musician, performed a stunning suite from Close Encounters and ended the memorable concert with his rousing overture for Superman. Indeed, the only aspect of the program that seemed insincere and genuinely out of place was Andre Previn’s patronizing comments appraising the late Max Steiner’s abilities. Previn, a truly gifted composer who himself wrote an abundance of outstanding music for the screen during the fifties and sixties, rarely makes any effort to conceal his personal contempt for the majority of musicians who have contributed their talents to music for the movies. Despite this rather tasteless indiscretion, Previn’s performance as host, moderator and conductor was impeccable, as was the performance of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. As they say in the concert hall…encore, encore."

 
 Posted:   Feb 6, 2008 - 6:29 AM   
 By:   Ray Faiola   (Member)

This show is what turned me totally off to Previn as an individual. How derisively dishonest to play a syrupy arrangement of "It Can't Be Wrong" and call it an "excerpt" from the score to NOW, VOYAGER. It reminded me of Ray Goulding in BOB & RAY THE TWO AND ONLY: "Well, I believe in building myself up...by tearing others down!"

 
 Posted:   Feb 6, 2008 - 7:12 AM   
 By:   LeHah   (Member)

Previn, a truly gifted composer who himself wrote an abundance of outstanding music for the screen during the fifties and sixties, rarely makes any effort to conceal his personal contempt for the majority of musicians who have contributed their talents to music for the movies.

I think thats an unfair statement, as he makes a very good point that people who *only* write film music are rather boring composers. He didn't name names, either.

Goldsmith, Williams, Rozsa, Steiner, Korngold, Goldenthal, Kamen and most of our other most beloved composers worked outside the field of film on various "classical" pursuits.

Yes, Previn can come off as maybe a little snide when talking about Steiner but its Andre friggin Previn - considering his talents and achievements, we can live with Herrmann we can certainly live with Previn

 
 Posted:   Feb 6, 2008 - 7:57 AM   
 By:   John Morgan   (Member)

I agree 100% with Ray. To make his point, Previn was dishonest. Maybe he could have played a pop arrangement of Williams' Superman love theme. I respect him as a composer, his conducting, for me, is a mixed bag, and he is worthless as a film music historian.

 
 Posted:   Feb 6, 2008 - 8:03 AM   
 By:   Ron Pulliam   (Member)

Previn, a truly gifted composer who himself wrote an abundance of outstanding music for the screen during the fifties and sixties, rarely makes any effort to conceal his personal contempt for the majority of musicians who have contributed their talents to music for the movies.

I think thats an unfair statement, as he makes a very good point that people who *only* write film music are rather boring composers. He didn't name names, either.

Goldsmith, Williams, Rozsa, Steiner, Korngold, Goldenthal, Kamen and most of our other most beloved composers worked outside the field of film on various "classical" pursuits.

Yes, Previn can come off as maybe a little snide when talking about Steiner but its Andre friggin Previn - considering his talents and achievements, we can live with Herrmann we can certainly live with Previn


Aside from his being a "world-class conductor", to what talents and achievements are you referring? To be fair, you must totally divorce his "film music" from your assessment since he holds that work in disdain.

Aside from conducting....what? Seriously. Previn has long been moving down the ladder of prominent conductors. Mehta surpassed him. Ozawa surpassed him, technically, IMO. And Tilson-Thomas is now a better conductor than Previn EVER was.

His own classical compositions are snoozes. His opera of "A Streetcar Named Desire" came to life only in scene change segues...with music that was reminiscent of his work in "Four Horsemen..." and "Dead Ringer."

Previn has musical composition talent, yes. He simply hasn't used it properly since he left Hollywood. He is now the sole survivor of Hollywood's "golden age" of film music composition. And he hasn't written a note of music half as good as his film work since he abandoned Hollywood three decades ago.

 
 Posted:   Feb 6, 2008 - 8:54 AM   
 By:   LeHah   (Member)

Aside from his being a "world-class conductor", to what talents and achievements are you referring?

What, "world-class conductor" ain't enough for ya? wink

To be fair, you must totally divorce his "film music" from your assessment since he holds that work in disdain.

Then you can't count anything by Herrmann or Conti, since Herrmann never wanted his material put to album and Conti said he doesn't want to be bothered with having his material out there.

The fact that the artist holds his material in *personal* disdain is not a reason to reject it on *artistic* merits.

Aside from conducting....what? Seriously. Previn has long been moving down the ladder of prominent conductors.

I can't disagree with that. He's all but disappeared it seems - but then consider his age. Previn was born in, what, 1928? 1929? He's certainly older than John Williams, whos writing less and less for film (I don't know if thats from age or current cinematic climate)

Mehta surpassed him. Ozawa surpassed him, technically, IMO. And Tilson-Thomas is now a better conductor than Previn EVER was.

No offense, but its seriously a matter of taste. I'm not disagreeing or attempting to say the conductors you cited are untalented - but, eh, semantics and all that.

For what its worth, Previn conducts Herrrmann very, very well and lord knows that man's music is far from simple. Previn also conducted the score to Freidhoffer's Above And Beyond, which (to my ear) is an incredibly complex score and anyone who can take on that task has to have more than just a passing talent.

His own classical compositions are snoozes. His opera of "A Streetcar Named Desire" came to life only in scene change segues...with music that was reminiscent of his work in "Four Horsemen..." and "Dead Ringer."

I cannot account for the opera you cite, but I have Bernard Herrmann's nasal voice ringing in my head, screaming/saying "Of course one thing sounds like the other! I wrote both peices, its the same composer!" smile

Previn has musical composition talent, yes. He simply hasn't used it properly since he left Hollywood.

I do sorely miss the man's music for film and I'm not sure if I agree with his reasons for moving on. However, I'm not him and so I can't say what happened behind closed doors that made him leave.

He is now the sole survivor of Hollywood's "golden age" of film music composition.

Leonard Rosenman doesn't count?

 
 Posted:   Feb 6, 2008 - 9:08 AM   
 By:   Ron Pulliam   (Member)

Rosenman....I guess he "counts"....but Previn was working in the 1940s as a teenager...at MGM with ALL the giants in that music department.

Rosenman was sort of 50s avant-garde...I don't associate him, so much, with established studio music departments. He's always seemed independent to me.

 
 Posted:   Feb 6, 2008 - 9:09 AM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)

Have you guys never heard of modesty?

Previn doesn't hold his film-music in contempt: one wouldn't expect him to do other than denigrate it, given his regard for the 'greats' of the concert world. He actually did like a 'handful' of his own scores, but he didn't say which, apart from 'Horsemen'. He praised Rozsa and Korngold etc. etc..

It might well be that he has terrified himself into compositional inactivity since leaving Hollywood, but that's not arrogance ... the very opposite. To say there are better conductors ... what should that mean? Is he to be pilloried for not being the best conductor who ever lived anywhere in the known universe?

 
 Posted:   Feb 6, 2008 - 9:12 AM   
 By:   LeHah   (Member)

but Previn was working in the 1940s as a teenager...

As a musical "go-fer" really. Yes, he was working in the system but he wasn't "established" at that time.

 
 Posted:   Feb 6, 2008 - 9:16 AM   
 By:   Ron Pulliam   (Member)

but Previn was working in the 1940s as a teenager...

As a musical "go-fer" really. Yes, he was working in the system but he wasn't "established" at that time.


At the ages of 19 and 20, Previn's credits at MGM:

Composer:
35. Tension (1949)
36. Challenge to Lassie (1949)
37. Scene of the Crime (1949)
38. The Sun Comes Up (1949)
39. Tenth Avenue Angel (1948) (uncredited)
40. On an Island with You (1948) (uncredited)
41. The Bride Goes Wild (1948) (uncredited)

Previous to that, he had wowed everyone in the department with his performing and arranging skills. He was a busy boy as a "go-fer".

 
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