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 Posted:   Jul 19, 2013 - 11:52 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

Your preference is unarguable. And I'm sure many people share it. What I'd like to get at is the question I raised earlier. Why has Alfred Newman's music failed to catch on with a larger audience despite the multimedia boost it has received from theatrical and television screenings for more than half a century? The question is not irrelevant for your own interests, for if the music were more widely appreciated there would be more of a market for soundtrack recordings.

 
 Posted:   Jul 19, 2013 - 1:44 PM   
 By:   SchiffyM   (Member)

The reason Alfred Newman's work has failed to catch on with a larger audience is the same reason some people prefer the original recording above all else while others appreciate new recordings and even interpretations: We are different human beings with different likes and dislikes, simple as that.

My own opinions, since nobody asked:

Dana, when you write "The interpretation I am after is the composer's, for the purpose and in the context for which it was written, capturing the drama and emotions of the film's characters and events," I absolutely get that, but to me it is not the be all and end all. First, the performance that happened to coincide with the recording used in a film is not necessarily the composer's favorite, merely what they were able to achieve at that moment in time, in that circumstance. I have spoken with composers who will be forever frustrated with a film performance that failed to capture the essence of what was in their heads, simply because of time constraints, a sub-par orchestra, or interference from directors/producers at the sessions. I don't see why a single performance should be the "one true" performance forever simply because of the technicality that it's what we've gotten used to.

(I find it telling that so many here -- maybe not you, Dana -- who always express a preference for film recordings will make rare exceptions for scores like "Patton," "In Like Flint," and "Rio Conchos"… which we enjoyed in rerecordings for years before the originals were released on CD. Sometimes, it is just what you first fell in love with.)

As for Newman… well, what can I say? He's never really connected with me. I am a big fan of so many of his contemporaries: Waxman, Herrmann, Friedhofer, Korngold, Raksin, etc. But rare is the Newman score that really grabs me. Why not? I'm not musically articulate enough to explain it. The music just washes over me without interesting me.

Nobody has to tell me why I'm wrong. It's simple listening preferences.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 19, 2013 - 2:44 PM   
 By:   waxmanman35   (Member)

What I'd like to get at is the question I raised earlier. Why has Alfred Newman's music failed to catch on with a larger audience despite the multimedia boost it has received from theatrical and television screenings for more than half a century? The question is not irrelevant for your own interests, for if the music were more widely appreciated there would be more of a market for soundtrack recordings.

What audience are you referring to? There no longer seems to be much of an audience for any film scores older than 30 years. As to Newman, I have perhaps 21 CD's of his music, of which I listen infrequently to only four of them. Newman's music is usually associated with the perjoratively termed "Hollywood sound." I agree with what was posted earlier that film scores are written to a specific dramatic end, and from that standpoint I feel they are inherently limited in terms of musical development and scope. I don't agree that ballet and opera are so limited. The opera and ballet composer are part of the original creative process (more so for ballet), and I don't think the comparison to writing music for an edited film is comparable.

As the years have passed I've found it increasingly difficult to listen to a film score apart from a viewing of the film. There might be 3-5 scores of each of the pantheon of "golden age" composers that I can enjoy in a strictly musical fashion, but even them the music brings to mind scenes from the respective films.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 19, 2013 - 3:24 PM   
 By:   PFK   (Member)

What I'd like to get at is the question I raised earlier. Why has Alfred Newman's music failed to catch on with a larger audience despite the multimedia boost it has received from theatrical and television screenings for more than half a century? The question is not irrelevant for your own interests, for if the music were more widely appreciated there would be more of a market for soundtrack recordings.

What audience are you referring to? There no longer seems to be much of an audience for any film scores older than 30 years. As to Newman, I have perhaps 21 CD's of his music, of which I listen infrequently to only four of them. Newman's music is usually associated with the perjoratively termed "Hollywood sound." I agree with what was posted earlier that film scores are written to a specific dramatic end, and from that standpoint I feel they are inherently limited in terms of musical development and scope. I don't agree that ballet and opera are so limited. The opera and ballet composer are part of the original creative process (more so for ballet), and I don't think the comparison to writing music for an edited film is comparable.

As the years have passed I've found it increasingly difficult to listen to a film score apart from a viewing of the film. There might be 3-5 scores of each of the pantheon of "golden age" composers that I can enjoy in a strictly musical fashion, but even them the music brings to mind scenes from the respective films.



I sure hope that won't happen to me. Most of the music I have I have never seen the films. The music itself is enough for me.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 19, 2013 - 5:26 PM   
 By:   Bill Finn   (Member)

Your preference is unarguable. And I'm sure many people share it. What I'd like to get at is the question I raised earlier. Why has Alfred Newman's music failed to catch on with a larger audience despite the multimedia boost it has received from theatrical and television screenings for more than half a century? The question is not irrelevant for your own interests, for if the music were more widely appreciated there would be more of a market for soundtrack recordings.

RP, I am partly referring to your above quote and partly to your earlier post about why there are xx number of recordings of the Mahler 5th, that seem to sell enough copies that every record label feels the need to carry one, yet nobody seems to care about a Newman score from 1949.

My suggestion (corroborated by my spouse who said about the same thing) is this: there were no (or few) lps in 1949, or mostly during Alfred Newman's career.

We all here, pretty much I would guess, are part of what 'they' call the 'rock 'n' roll' generation. I an still remember when I first bought an LP of "HTWWW". Close to it in the record bins was an RCA album called '1,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong'.

I think it is then partly, that any audience for soundtracks by Newman (or Rozsa) have died and left us in charge. That's the way of life.

In other words, if the technology HAD existed in the 1950's to release soundtracks, it would have done so. And indeed, it did try to do so. I believe there was slightly more of an audience for it at that time, but there was a lack of availability of product.

But you and I, and nearly everyone else here, are in the post-Beatles world. We should be very thankful for what we get.

And to answer the question of why I (or anyone) would want to buy a rerecording, when the original is available: for me, it is simply love of the music. For instance, the fact that I already had the original "El Cid" recording didn't prevent me from purchasing both the Sedares AND the Raines versions. I love them all. Some for the style, some for the sound.

When you really love a piece of music, you might want to hear all of the recordings.

I feel the same way about CfC.



 
 Posted:   Jul 19, 2013 - 7:52 PM   
 By:   SchiffyM   (Member)

And to answer the question of why I (or anyone) would want to buy a rerecording, when the original is available: for me, it is simply love of the music.

Precisely!

 
 Posted:   Jul 19, 2013 - 8:44 PM   
 By:   bdm   (Member)

Love of the music is fine, and I respect that, but with a wonderful release of the original, again, what is the need? Focus on scores with no wonderful original releases available or possible seems a better focus of resources (and revenues).

 
 Posted:   Jul 19, 2013 - 10:00 PM   
 By:   Dana Wilcox   (Member)

The reason Alfred Newman's work has failed to catch on with a larger audience is the same reason some people prefer the original recording above all else while others appreciate new recordings and even interpretations: We are different human beings with different likes and dislikes, simple as that.

My own opinions, since nobody asked:

Dana, when you write "The interpretation I am after is the composer's, for the purpose and in the context for which it was written, capturing the drama and emotions of the film's characters and events," I absolutely get that, but to me it is not the be all and end all. First, the performance that happened to coincide with the recording used in a film is not necessarily the composer's favorite, merely what they were able to achieve at that moment in time, in that circumstance. I have spoken with composers who will be forever frustrated with a film performance that failed to capture the essence of what was in their heads, simply because of time constraints, a sub-par orchestra, or interference from directors/producers at the sessions. I don't see why a single performance should be the "one true" performance forever simply because of the technicality that it's what we've gotten used to.

(I find it telling that so many here -- maybe not you, Dana -- who always express a preference for film recordings will make rare exceptions for scores like "Patton," "In Like Flint," and "Rio Conchos"… which we enjoyed in rerecordings for years before the originals were released on CD. Sometimes, it is just what you first fell in love with.)

As for Newman… well, what can I say? He's never really connected with me. I am a big fan of so many of his contemporaries: Waxman, Herrmann, Friedhofer, Korngold, Raksin, etc. But rare is the Newman score that really grabs me. Why not? I'm not musically articulate enough to explain it. The music just washes over me without interesting me.

Nobody has to tell me why I'm wrong. It's simple listening preferences.


I couldn't agree with you more. Preferences are subjective and very individual, and it's simply impossible to be "wrong" to prefer -- or not -- a particular composer's work.

It is true that some of my favorite "soundtrack" recordings are in fact re-recordings (e.g., WALK ON THE WILD SIDE, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and THE GREAT ESCAPE) where the original soundstage cues either have never been released for one reason or another, or were not released until long after the film had come and gone, and the re-recording had become the reference recording for that score. In those cases, one forms one's attachments based on what is available. Finally having the chance to buy true OSTs of scores such as THE GREAT ESCAPE in the past few years has been unbelievably wonderful, and in many (if not all) cases I've found it easy to embrace those original cues as firmly as I embraced the re-recordings that were all there was to listen to for so many years. I don't want to get way into my issues with the new wave of re-recordings (having discussed them in detail more than once in the past) but I have more often than not found them lacking in ways which for me significantly detract from an enjoyable listening experience. Some have been better than others, and a very few have taken the time and effort to really get it right. Charles Gerhardt remains the reference conductor for re-recordings in my view. His recordings (for me) are virtual perfection because he saw no need to "reinterpret" what already was and is great music. So I think I'll just let it go at that.

I appreciate your thoughtful comments, Schiffy, and I hope the above makes some sense to you. I suspect we are fundamentally in an "agree to disagree" posture as regards what works in a re-recording of film music, and that works fine for me.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 20, 2013 - 1:11 PM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

I found over the years of "popularity" is arbitrary. One fairly low budget feature can bring in a certain amount of people and it is a fantastic hit. Everybody will look to the people involved as how they made such a "hit". Another film can be a overbudgeted epic, bring in exactly the same amount of people and be a colossal flop. To me they are equally popular and the rest is the bottom line - the business part of it.

The arbitrariness of film music popularity usually has to do with a conduit to the public. Herrmann had Hitchcock and Harryhausen. Other elements were there, everything from Welles to DiPalma, but if you remove those first two you lose the legendary status and hence his popularity. That arbitrary key element seems to be all important. Tiomkin had a series of popular tunes (HIGH NOON, THE GREEN LEAVES OF SUMMER, THE GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL, THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY, etc.) that was his conduit and Rozsa a series of epics (BEN-HUR, QUO VADIS, EL CID, etc.). But what if you work extra hard not to be typecast, working against having a niche people can identify you with. Goldsmith achieved that for me and yet, late in his career, newbie fans deemed him king of action films. This always made me as mad as Yor and wanting to bash heads because 1) I knew it was his least favorite scoring assignments and 2) he told a fan once he made them interesting for himself so he wouldn't fall asleep at the movieola.

Alfred Newman had the same problem. He was the head of a studio music department quite early and had the privilege to handpick his assignments and certainly wasn't going to typecast himself. If he did have a conduit to the public it was being the supervisor and conductor for most of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals. This puts the emphasis on those composers and not him or Kim Darby. But for me, like Goldsmith, the vast majority of great work he did was totally around and away from what made him popular. Even after he died I can't tell you how many STAR WARS screenings got crazy applause at the first notes of his Fox logo (I believe the one and only major studio theme that has never changed). For those who think classic cinema came before Spielberg or Lucas then his work with William Wyler (WUTHERING HEIGHTS), Ernst Lubitch (HEAVEN CAN WAIT), George Stevens (DIARY OF ANNE FRANK), William Dieterle (THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME), Joseph L. Mankiewicz (ALL ABOUT EVE), Billy Wilder (THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH), Alfred Hitchcock (FOREIGN CORRESPONDANT), John Ford (THE GRAPES OF WRATH) or Henry King (CAPTAIN FROM CASTILLE) can't help to impress. If anybody knows what Cinerama is then you know HOW THE WEST WAS WON was the crowning glory of quite a slew of glorious scores in that format. And he had one of the very best end-of-careers I have ever seen with AIRPORT one of the best exit scores ever. But these are all qualitative aspects that never helped the public latch onto something familiar to connect with.

But collectors are something else again. The notorious Herrmann box set of only 1000 wasn't arrived at stupidly. There had been a pattern of lower and lower sales for Herrmann scores up to that point. Objectively it made sense. What they didn't anticipate was an accumulated focus. Get everything you wanted in one place. I think an Alfred Newman at Fox box would have that accumulated effect. Newman was Fox. You could get deluxe popular items (THE ROBE, CAPTAIN FROM CASTLLE, DIARY OF ANNE FRANK) plus tons of unreleased scores, each of which could be favorites of different fans. Newman WAS Fox, so a Newman at Fox Box would be THE Twentieth Century Fox box.

But a Tadlow CAPTAIN FROM CASTILLE is pretty much a gamble as all recordings are. I would love it as they are getting great at it, but do any of these make money? Somebody has got to love it beyond belief. So what sold better, EL CID recorded many times or THE SALAMANDER which never saw the light of day?

And popularity with soundtrack is equally arbitrary

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 20, 2013 - 5:36 PM   
 By:   Bill Finn   (Member)

Morricone - that is a very thought-provoking post. I especially liked your use of the word:
'conduit' to describe a film composers fleeting connection to 'popularity' or 'acceptance'?

I noticed that you did not seem to name your nom-de-plume's own conduit; Ennio Morricone's films with Leone.

I once read a book (sorry, no link, it was a real book) and I don't remember the author OR the title (maybe someone can help me out here). But the point of the book was not THAT far away from your own term 'conduit'. The author talked about the connect-the-dots of film composers working with different producers or directors, and how that (along with the composers musical abilities) kind of created a network for them.

Obviously, an Alfred Newman, as head of the Fox Music Department, did not need these types of connections. This happened somewhat later, and involved composers such as Goldsmith and Williams (who had no studio chiefs to support them).

Of course, you could admit that even a Goldsmith had his own 'conduit' - the films of Franklin J. Schaffner.

Likewise, Williams has had both Lucas AND Spielberg.

My point is only that I thought 'conduit' was a useful term. Kind of like if you had said 'schtick' (an old vaudeville term).

But yes, Newman, fortunately or not, is much better known (to the public that was) as involved in movies such as SOUTH PACIFIC, CAROUSEL and CAMELOT, not CfC, or even HTWWW.

And I certainly agree with your assessment of Newman's late scores. Not just AIRPORT, but also HTWWW and TGSET. One of the few (possibly the only golden age) composers, whose music was on a definite uptick at the end of his life (and career).

AIRPORT was indeed a fine magnum opus. As good as it gets I think.

So, yes, a rerecording of CfC is mostly of interest to us die-hards, who cannot get enough of it. And as much as I admire Gerhardt's recording (and I own them all), something is seriously wrong with the recording of CfC. It probably seemed cool to combine symphony orchestra + military band, but that might have worked better if the producers had synchronized the recordings better. As it is, they are not really 'together'. I wish it had come off better, believe me. The rest of the Gerhardt album is just fine.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 20, 2013 - 7:49 PM   
 By:   Jim Doherty   (Member)

After skimming the many replies to this post (and I have indeed skipped over a few), I simply have to say that it looks like we've lived through (possibly) the last great renaisance of great Golden-Age film music re-recordings. Prices of these re-recordings have escalated. The market for them seems to be decreasing (in part, due to the passing of older, discerning admirers who are no longer around to desire and purchase such releases). Certainly, there are still great film scores out there that could benefit from re-recordings, but are there enough people who will buy the CD to justify the costs of the re-recording?

I am sorry to say this, but I feel the days of Tadlow and Tribute will not be seen again. We should be truly thankful for the decade or so we had of great recordings from those labels. Honestly, I don't know how they lasted that long, unless it was through the financial input of certain "angel" investors who didn't expect to get their money back. God bless those investors.

However, I felt, well over a year ago, that it was an exercise in futility to keep suggesting to Tribute or Tadlow new titles to record. I think those days are over.

On the other hand, despite the odds, I hope I'm wrong... but I doubt it.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 20, 2013 - 11:07 PM   
 By:   sr-miller   (Member)

Makes one really appreciate the 1990s when Marco Polo was releasing 3 or 4 titles a year.

 
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