Film Score Monthly
FSM HOME MESSAGE BOARD FSM CDs FSM ONLINE RESOURCES FUN STUFF ABOUT US  SEARCH FSM   
Search Terms: 
Search Within:   search tips 
You must log in or register to post.
  Go to page:    
 
 Posted:   Sep 19, 2013 - 12:56 PM   
 By:   Preston Neal Jones   (Member)

A review in today's New York Times, less condescending and more respectful than is their custom:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/19/arts/music/hitchcock-scores-performed-by-new-york-philharmonic.html?ref=arts&_r=0

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 19, 2013 - 2:59 PM   
 By:   jonathan_little   (Member)

But with Alfred Hitchcock’s genius competing for attention, was anyone really listening to the orchestra?

Anyone? There were probably one or two film score fans in the audience really listening to the music (or at least trying to ignore all of the distractions and listen to the music). Beyond that, no. I've been to enough film music concerts with projection screens to see that the audience cares almost nothing about the music and would rather watch the screen. It's mostly a mix of people on a date night (let's leave in the middle of a piece because we're idiots), family night ("Mom, is it over yet?"), or season ticket holders who feel they have to come even though they'd rather be hearing some pretentious Mozart performed for the millionth time instead. Any time a slight celebrity is involved, for instance Alec Baldwin, even more uncouth people somehow find the venue and turn it into an unpleasant experience.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 19, 2013 - 4:33 PM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

But with Alfred Hitchcock’s genius competing for attention, was anyone really listening to the orchestra?

Actually that's a peculiar remark from Ms. Corinna da Fonseca-Wolheim, a Times writer new to me. Why would anybody expect people to pay elevated Philharmonic prices to see fragments of old movies poorly projected in an unsuitable auditorium, with the musicians' lights blanching the screen? (It would make more sense to stage these things in an opera house, with a covered pit.) I have to admit, though, that the chosen image makes an arresting sight, esp. in color. (It was B&W in the printed paper.)

I didn't go, for a number of reasons. Most of all, I object to the "Hitchcok's music" industry, which seems more interested in propagating auteur-director worship than in examining the contribution of the composers. Interesting selection. Herrmann, of course. But DIAL M FOR MURDER? Even from those who admire Tiomkin more than I do, there doesn't seem to be any particular enthusiasm for this score, which channels Mussorgsky rather blatantly. Ditto for TO CATCH A THIEF, a movie I've yet to see that is rarely discussed by music lovers.

SPELLBOUND was a surprising omission, though not one over which I would shed any tears. It's an important score historically but not, in my opinion, prime Rozsa or prime Hitchcock. And of course significant portions are really by Waxman and Webb! I believe the writer (following Baldwin?) is wrong about Stokowski having performed the music prior to the premiere. Promotional recordings were indeed made -- that's one reason the score is a landmark -- but not by Stoky. I'm unaware of any performances by that artist.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 19, 2013 - 6:36 PM   
 By:   mike_paschke   (Member)

I saw this in DC at Wolftrap with the National Symphony Orchestra....great show!

The reason for the odd omissions and inclusions (I think), was that they were all scores that Warner Bros had the rights to. Psycho is Universal, so they didn't play it....

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 19, 2013 - 8:19 PM   
 By:   cinemel1   (Member)

I was at the concert. The ticket prices were not exorbitant. I paid $85.00 for an orchestra seat.
Not that much to listen to a world class orchestra. Their performance was fine. As far as the choice of
films. That could be criticized, but it was interesting to hear some scores that were not the usual suspects (Dial M, Strangers on a Train & To Catch a Thief). Nevertheless, Vertigo and N by NW were
superbly played and included some of the most well known sequences from those films.
True, the projection left something to be desired, but it was really about the music. Alec Baldwin was the host and didn't even bother to take a bow at the end. The audience seemed quite satisfied with
the concert and applauded enthusiastically.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 19, 2013 - 9:29 PM   
 By:   Preston Neal Jones   (Member)

Cinemel1 -- Were there any other selections besides STRANGERS ON A TRAIN which were played at the concert but not mentioned in the review? (I happen to enjoy TRAIN's score much more than that for DIAL M.)

(And I'm wondering if the Times writer was repeating a goof from the printed program notes when mis-crediting Stokowski for SPELLBOUND promotion. Incidentally, the examples cited were all SELZNICK productions. He was aways more interested than Hitchcock -- or most other Hollywood bigwigs -- in promoting films through promoting their scores.)

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 19, 2013 - 9:31 PM   
 By:   Preston Neal Jones   (Member)

Jonathan_Little --

I have to ask: Mozart "pretentious?" Really?

- PNJ

 
 Posted:   Sep 19, 2013 - 9:49 PM   
 By:   Basil Wrathbone   (Member)

It's easy to knock the people who attend such concerts as not being genuine film music enthusiasts, but there are probably far more of them paying to attend such performances than there are folks here who have been to even one live film music concert.
I've only been to a couple of film music concerts myself, and none in over twenty years.

 
 Posted:   Sep 19, 2013 - 10:07 PM   
 By:   SchiffyM   (Member)

I have to ask: Mozart "pretentious?" Really?

I knew it! Jonathan Little is really Antonio Salieri!

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 20, 2013 - 5:22 AM   
 By:   cinemel1   (Member)

Cinemel1 -- Were there any other selections besides STRANGERS ON A TRAIN which were played at the concert but not mentioned in the review? (I happen to enjoy TRAIN's score much more than that for DIAL M.)

(And I'm wondering if the Times writer was repeating a goof from the printed program notes when mis-crediting Stokowski for SPELLBOUND promotion. Incidentally, the examples cited were all SELZNICK productions. He was aways more interested than Hitchcock -- or most other Hollywood bigwigs -- in promoting films through promoting their scores.)


Preston, the program was as follows:
Murray: Selections from To Catch a Thief
Opening Titles
The Cat Escapes

Herrmann: Selections from Vertigo
Opening Titles & Rooftop Chase
Scene d'amour

Tiomkin: Selections from Strangers on a Train
Opening Titles & Feet to the Station
The Murder?
The Tennis Match
The Carousel
The End

Intermission

Gounod: Marche funebre d'une marionnette (Funeral March of a Marionette)

Tiomkin: Selections from Dial M for Murder
Opening Titles & A Perfect Marriage
The Setup
The Murder
The Inspector's Handbag
A Perfect Ending

Hermmann: Selections from North by Northwest
Opening Titles
Drunk Driving
Escape with Me
On Top of Mount Rushmore

The Gounod piece was accompanied by home movies of Hitchcock & family intercut with a trailer
from North by Northwest with Hitch speaking about film on screen.

I'm not sure about the Stokowski/Spellbound promotion. Unfortunately I forgot the program on the
train on the way home, but I did photograph the 2 pages of the program.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 20, 2013 - 3:21 PM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

A review in today's New York Times, less condescending and more respectful than is their custom:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/19/arts/music/hitchcock-scores-performed-by-new-york-philharmonic.html?ref=arts&_r=0


"Was anyone listening to the orchestra?" asks the reviewer. TOTALLY PATRONIZING. It is a more than veiled suggestion that Benny's music is somehow LESS than Hitchcock's films.

THIS IS JUST PLAINLY WRONG.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 20, 2013 - 11:11 PM   
 By:   Preston Neal Jones   (Member)

Cinemel -- thank you.

***

Regie --

I don't see it the same way. Believe me, I've spent a lifetime reading reviews of film music by concert/classical critics which were unquestionably, unequivocally, undoubtedly snobby and snotty. (Many of these pieces I've mentioned or quoted over the years here at this Message Board.) But when a piece such as this one concludes -- and I assume you read all the way to the end and didn't simply give up after that paragraph which so upset you -- singing the praises of the "self effacing but brilliant" work of film composers, then I think the context in which to read that earlier paragraph is not as a dig at the music but as a wistful examination of the craft, in which audiences are not always consciously aware of how much the music may be contributing to their experience of the movie.

Much the same thing could be said about how unaware of the script-writer an audience may be, so wrapped up are they in the beauty and charm or conviction of the actors who are speaking the lines. And it's a simple scientific fact that the human brain, when confronted simultaneously with visual information and audio information, is more likely to absorb the visual than the sound. Really, it all comes down to the ages-old Hollywood question: should the audience be aware of the music or not?

Respectfully,

PNJ

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 21, 2013 - 12:29 AM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

Of course, I don't have your experience in reading such reviews regarding film music. So, I take your point and thank you for it!!

Cheers!!

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 21, 2013 - 11:30 AM   
 By:   rbrisbane_1984   (Member)

These concerts are themselves demeaning to film music. They send the message that the music alone isn't worth performing or listening to without the film. I've attended my share. Unless it's a new score freshly composed for a silent or classic film, there's really no point in projecting the film. And how can you have a Hitchcock concert and present To Catch A Thief but not Psycho? Please.

I agree with the reviewer that Hitchcock is tremendous competition for any composer, which reminds me of a YouTube fight I had with someone who agreed with idiot David Raskin, who once said that Hitchcock "owed Herrmann everything", when it's more or less the other way around.

When Herrmann finally scored a Hitchcock film, the director was already a legend who had worked with every major Hollywood composer, Newman, Rozsa, Tiomkin, Waxman, maybe even Steiner (can't remember).

Yes, Herrmann's score for Psycho is a masterpiece and might have saved the film but Hitchcock was already the master of suspense before Herrmann and remained the master of suspense after Herrmann, he owed the composer nothing.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 21, 2013 - 1:11 PM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

I think this goes too far. It was the unique combination of Hitchcock and Herrmann (sound and image - which I'm sure I've discussed on another thread) which was significant. Those particular films owed much of their success to music which was the work of a considerable composer, tailored in a specific way for uniquely Hitchcock films. The director poorly understood the role of Herrmann and his music and when their relationship faltered Hitchcock's films more or less declined too. Herrmann went on to write scores for other films where his music was vastly superior to those filmes, i.e. "Fahrenheit 451" - just to name one.

You may validly argue that Alfred Hitchcock was already an internationally celebrated director by the time Bernard Herrmann arrived on the scene, but it is those collaborative films which we now regard as his supreme masterpieces and which were symbiotically connected with the music as few others have been in the history of film.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 21, 2013 - 1:44 PM   
 By:   rbrisbane_1984   (Member)

I think this goes too far. It was the unique combination of Hitchcock and Herrmann (sound and image - which I'm sure I've discussed on another thread) which was significant. Those particular films owed much of their success to music which was the work of a considerable composer, tailored in a specific way for uniquely Hitchcock films. The director poorly understood the role of Herrmann and his music and when their relationship faltered Hitchcock's films more or less declined too. Herrmann went on to write scores for other films where his music was vastly superior to those filmes, i.e. "Fahrenheit 451" - just to name one.

You may validly argue that Alfred Hitchcock was already an internationally celebrated director by the time Bernard Herrmann arrived on the scene, but it is those collaborative films which we now regard as his supreme masterpieces and which were symbiotically connected with the music as few others have been in the history of film.


Perhaps, but to say that "Hitchcock owed Herrmann everything" is idiotic. Raskin's ludicrous.

Hitchcock's last two films were phenomenal, Frenzy and Family Plot saw him in top form (both have great no-Herrmann scores), no "decline" as a director whatsoever at the very end of his career.

Herrmann is my favorite film composer but in the late 60's he was disengaged from reality and unable to come up with original work aside from Cape Fear and a couple of others. His Marnie score has its moments but it's tacky. Then ripped himself off and copied the theme in his next project (not a Hitchcock film, can't think of the name) which infuriated the director. Having said that, I think Herrmann's score for Torn Curtain is superior to Addison's fine but common score.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 21, 2013 - 2:29 PM   
 By:   Rexor   (Member)

Here are some of the notes on the program:

http://nyphil.org/~/media/pdfs/program%20notes/Murray-selections%20from%20To%20Catch%20a%20Thief.ashx


Anyway, I agree with the view that showing the film is a distraction. The music has to compete with the images, dialogue, and everything else. If one is going to a concert to hear Prokofiev's "Alexander Nevsky Cantata," one wouldn't expect to see and hear the film playing in the background. I thought about going to the Hitchcock concert, but I wasn't too enthralled by the selections, or that it took place during the middle of the work-week.

-Rexor

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 21, 2013 - 2:33 PM   
 By:   Preston Neal Jones   (Member)

I would humbly suggest that Raksin's -- not "Raskin's" (sic) -- comment be taken not quite so literally, and could better be considered as mere hyperbole, and hence no cause for alarm or condemnation.

Overall, I'm pleased to see that my modest little thread w/link has stimulated some lively discussion. (Though I'm still waiting to hear more from Jonathan about "pretentious Mozart.") And Regie, I'm glad to see young blood on this Board, to say nothing of young, female blood, a seeming rarity in these here parts. As to that remark of the Times writer which set you off (and which I defended), we all know that, if maestro Herrmann were still alive to read it, his own reaction might very well have been infinitely more vituperative, vicious and vindictive than your own.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 21, 2013 - 3:40 PM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

I think this goes too far. It was the unique combination of Hitchcock and Herrmann (sound and image - which I'm sure I've discussed on another thread) which was significant. Those particular films owed much of their success to music which was the work of a considerable composer, tailored in a specific way for uniquely Hitchcock films. The director poorly understood the role of Herrmann and his music and when their relationship faltered Hitchcock's films more or less declined too. Herrmann went on to write scores for other films where his music was vastly superior to those filmes, i.e. "Fahrenheit 451" - just to name one.

You may validly argue that Alfred Hitchcock was already an internationally celebrated director by the time Bernard Herrmann arrived on the scene, but it is those collaborative films which we now regard as his supreme masterpieces and which were symbiotically connected with the music as few others have been in the history of film.


Perhaps, but to say that "Hitchcock owed Herrmann everything" is idiotic. Raskin's ludicrous.

Hitchcock's last two films were phenomenal, Frenzy and Family Plot saw him in top form (both have great no-Herrmann scores), no "decline" as a director whatsoever at the very end of his career.

Herrmann is my favorite film composer but in the late 60's he was disengaged from reality and unable to come up with original work aside from Cape Fear and a couple of others. His Marnie score has its moments but it's tacky. Then ripped himself off and copied the theme in his next project (not a Hitchcock film, can't think of the name) which infuriated the director. Having said that, I think Herrmann's score for Torn Curtain is superior to Addison's fine but common score.


You obviously don't like Benny's scores for "Taxi Driver" or "Fahrenheit 451" - both masterpieces IMO. And I love the "Marnie" score too. I don't think Benny became 'disengaged from reality', but he sure had personality problems.

We'll have to disagree on whether those last films represented typical Hitchcock form. I am supported by the critics here, plus I've read a lot of stuff on Hitchcock and the music of Herrmann.
"Frenzy" was a good film, but it by no means had the elegant sophistication or psychological depth of the earlier ones I mentioned.

And, despite the long interviews the director made with Truffaut in discussing his work, I think critics and the public are allowed to have a different view. Once a work has entered the public domain we might ask one question: "Whom do we believe: the tale or the teller"? I'm with the former.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 21, 2013 - 3:43 PM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

I would humbly suggest that Raksin's -- not "Raskin's" (sic) -- comment be taken not quite so literally, and could better be considered as mere hyperbole, and hence no cause for alarm or condemnation.

Overall, I'm pleased to see that my modest little thread w/link has stimulated some lively discussion. (Though I'm still waiting to hear more from Jonathan about "pretentious Mozart.") And Regie, I'm glad to see young blood on this Board, to say nothing of young, female blood, a seeming rarity in these here parts. As to that remark of the Times writer which set you off (and which I defended), we all know that, if maestro Herrmann were still alive to read it, his own reaction might very well have been infinitely more vituperative, vicious and vindictive than your own.


Thanks for the compliment, but I'm an early 60's retired English teacher who was also trained in Musicology. I am enjoying the discussions.

 
You must log in or register to post.
  Go to page:    
© 2014 Film Score Monthly. All Rights Reserved.