Many of the major film composers of the 1960s and ’70s cut their teeth and honed their skills not on theatrical films but on work for the small screen. Writing for television taught them to create effective music quickly and economically. This wide-ranging 5CD set from Film Score Monthly (drawn from the archives of M-G-M Television) features rare and exciting television work by composers best known for feature films—John Williams, Leonard Rosenman, Dave Grusin, Jerry Fielding, George Duning, Lalo Schifrin—as well as musicians long adored for their television work, such as Gil Mellé, John Parker and Billy Goldenberg.
Disc One leads off the collection with John (“Johnny”) Williams’s music for a single episode of The Eleventh Hour (1963), a spin-off of the popular Dr. Kildare series. This is the only M-G-M series episode scored by Williams, who was primarily working for Universal at the time. It is followed by Leonard Rosenman’s score for The Phantom of Hollywood (1974), which mines the atonal and dissonant style of The Cobweb while also incorporating melodies from classic M-G-M musicals. Also heard on the first disc is jazz trumpeter Don Ellis’s brief but probing score for The Deadly Tower (1975), NBC’s controversial film about a real-life sniper who killed 13 people in a deadly shooting spree at the University of Texas in 1966.
Disc Two features Dave Grusin’s hip music for three episodes of Assignment: Vienna (1972-73), an international-intrigue series which starred Robert Conrad. Grusin incorporated a cimbalom into his otherwise contemporary jazz score to give the music an Old World flavor. Among the disc’s highlights are the pieces for jazz trio and quartet composed as source music for the nightclub operated by Conrad’s character, heard here for the first time absolutely complete (only truncated versions were featured in the show).
More music from the same series—but by a different composer—makes up the first half of Disc Three. John Parker, who also worked on CHiPs, brought a slightly more conventional sound to the show, although he too used cimbalom and a similar orchestration.
The other music featured on Disc Three comes from Jerry Fielding’s delightfully diverse score for the TV movie, Shirts/Skins (1973). Although he was better-known for scoring films that explored man’s dark side (The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs), Fielding was equally adept at scoring comedies. This telefilm about six overstressed businessmen engaged in a wacky contest gave Fielding the opportunity to stretch his musical muscles in several directions. His big-band arrangement of “Sweet Georgia Brown” is just one aspect of this appealing score, which also includes a zany march, a bit of vaudeville and some quasi religioso moments for scenes set in a church.
Disc Four is devoted to music from Then Came Bronson—both George Duning’s largely traditional score for the TV-movie/pilot (1969) and Gil Mellé’s more diverse contribution to two episodes of the ensuing series (1969-70). Duning’s romantic idiom was perfectly suited to this tale of a motorcycle-riding drifter out to discover himself and his country, encompassing a beautiful love theme in its rich orchestral palette (the score is for a relatively large group of 35 musicians). Mellé’s two episode scores include one fairly traditional effort, “The Circle of Time” (this was before his electronic music breakthrough), and a more intriguing, jazz-based score written for only eight players (“The Forest Primeval”). He adapted the latter into a 14-minute jazz suite (“Waterbirds”) for a rare 1970 LP.
Lalo Schifrin’s complete score for Earth II (1971) (which FSM previewed in The Cincinnati Kid, Lalo Schifrin Scores Vol. 1), a science-fiction TV movie with its otherworldly sounds created by non-traditional use of orchestral instruments as well as extensive use of electronics, opens Disc Five. It is followed by music for a 1976 failed pilot film about an international “Impossible Missions”-type team, High Risk, composed by Billy Goldenberg. Mysterious, restrained yet elegant, this score also explores unique sounds with such instruments as electric sitar, synthesizer and echoplexed electric flutes.
The 32-page booklet includes extensive background notes by film and TV music historian Jon Burlingame, plus stills and artwork selected by Joe Sikoryak—BUT there’s more! With so much fascinating music contained on these discs, FSM is providing additionalnotes online for selected scores. This historical collection sheds new light on the work of several well-known composers and is a must-buy for all collectors interested in the “full picture” of ’60s and ’70s dramatic scoring. Order yours and “tune in” today.
George Duning (1908-2000) was a longtime contract composer at Columbia Pictures (From Here to Eternity, Picnic) who later did feature films as a freelancer (including several of the titles released by FSM) as well as a great amount of television (including Star Trek). A former bandleader for Kay Kyser, he was comfortable in jazz idioms and had a sensitive and melodic touch as a symphonic dramatist. FSM is one of the only labels to showcase his work, from action-adventure (The Devil at 4 O'Clock) to magical comedy (Bell, Book and Candle) to bluesy and lyrical (Toys in the Attic). IMDB
Don Ellis (1934-1978) was a visionary West Coast jazz trumpetist, drummer, composer and arranger whose Don Ellis Band broke new ground in adventuresome time signatures and orchestration; it was said the only piece that the band played in 4/4 was "Take Five." Ellis broke his avant garde jazz sensibilities to The French Connection and French Connection II as well as other film and TV projects before his untimely death as a result of a heart ailment. IMDB
Jerry Fielding (1922-1980) was one of cinema's most distinctive voices in the 1960s and especially '70s, the perfect musical complement to the films of Sam Peckinpah, Michael Winner, Clint Eastwood and others. His scores are marked by modernism and intricate orchestrations but also a poetic beauty and intensity—an appropriate accompaniment to the decade's strange and often sad (but never sentimental) criminals and antiheroes, be they in westerns (The Wild Bunch) or crime films. He was, however, capable of numerous styles (he was a former Vegas bandleader), and wrote a great number of scores (from sticoms to dramas to sci-fi) for television. IMDB
Billy Goldenberg (b. 1936) is one of the legendary names in television scoring of the 1960s and 1970s. He was Steven Spielberg’s composer (Night Gallery, Duel) before the latter’s collaborations with John Williams. Winner of four Emmys, the prolific Goldenberg wrote music for such series as Alias Smith & Jones, The Sixth Sense,Kojak, Rhoda, Columbo and The Name of the Game, as well as such highly rated TV-movies and miniseries as Rage of Angels and Queen of the Stardust Ballroom (the latter of which went on to become the Tony-nominated 1978 musical Ballroom). His movie credits include Play It Again Sam, Up the Sandbox and The Last of Sheila. IMDB
What to say about Jerry Goldsmith (1929-2004), the reason so many of us are soundtrack collectors in the first place? The Los Angeles native knew early on he wanted to write music for the movies, had an extensive training in television in the 1950s (starting at CBS), and went on to an unparalleled career in the movies—capable of brilliance in every genre, and beloved by his peers and fans. FSM has released as many of his scores as we could get our hands on, from classic TV work like The Man From U.N.C.L.E. to famous features (Patton) and obscure gems like The Illustrated Man and 100 Rifles...heck, make that all of them. Jerry, we love you and miss you! IMDB
Dave Grusin (b. 1934) is a composer, arranger, jazz pianist and recording artist who has made major contributions to jazz and popular music as well as film, where his deft blending of orchestra and pop music (either/or, and often both!) has enriched projects in all genres—but he is especially known for his sensitive touch for acclaimed dramas. He has also composed a number of well-known TV themes, from The Name of the Game to Baretta to St. Elsewhere. FSM has released some of his earliest work on CD, including his TV music for The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.—our pleasure, as he was pretty much great from day one. IMDB
Gill Mellé (1931-2004) was a gifted artist (painting and sculpture), prominent jazz musician (tenor and baritone sax), designer of electronic instruments, and prolific composer. Throughout the 1970s and 80s he wrote extensively for television, including episodes of Night Gallery, Columbo, Kolchak: The Night Stalker and Tenafly, plus such made-for-TV films as My Sweet Charlie and The Six Million Dollar Man. He also scored a few theatrical films, such as The Andromeda Strain and Hot Target. Mellé pioneered many developments in electronic music, including early analog synthesizers and drum machines; many of his scores incorporated electronic instruments of his own design. IMDB
John Parker (b. 1926) taught in the Film Music Department at USC for seven years. He is a prolific composer of film and television scores. Formerly the musical director for Arthur Godfrey, he later scored numerous episodes of Dallas, Medical Center and Gunsmoke, plus all of the music for Trapper John, M.D. He also composed music for Love Boat, M*A*S*H, The Streets of San Francisco and many other series. Parker has arranged and conducted albums for such popular artists as Ray Charles, Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Bennett, Merv Griffin, Carol Lawrence, Connie Francis and Rosemary Clooney. IMDB
George Romanis (b.1929) worked as a jazz bassist, arranger and president of a commercial jingle house until 1970. He was active in television scoring during the 1970s and '80s. His credits include episodes of such well-known series as Hawaii Five-O, Hawkins, Medical Center, Cannon and Beyond Westworld. He also scored the TV version of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. His non-commercial work includes a concerto for guitar and orchestra, premiered in 1981. IMDB
Leonard Rosenman (1924-2008) was an accomplished 20th century American composer with a major career in film and television. He was an up-and-coming New York concert composer when his friendship with James Dean lead to his groundbreaking 1955 scores for East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause; his score for The Cobweb that same year is acknowledged as the first to be based on twelve-tone music. His other film projects include Fantastic Voyage, the 1978 Lord of the Rings, Cross Creek and Star Trek IV; his television work includes Combat, Marcus Welby, M.D. and Sybil. Rosenman made no apologies for his modernist style and was outspoken about using his film projects as testing grounds for concert works. IMDB
Lalo Schifrin (b. 1932) is an Argentinean-born composer, conductor, arranger and pianist who has made a major impact on film, TV, the concert hall and jazz stage. He parlayed an early career as a pianist and arranger for Dizzy Gillespie into a run as one of the hottest film and TV composers of the 1960s and '70s, with projects such as Mission: Impossible, Bullitt, Dirty Harry, Cool Hand Luke, Enter the Dragon and more. His more recent films include the popular Rush Hour series. He is beloved for his Latin jazz but is also an accomplished classical composer and conductor with ongoing recording, composing and performing projects.IMDB
Harry Sukman (1912-1984) was a veteran composer of feature films as well as television, both episodic (Dr. Kildare) and longform (Salem's Lot). He won an Oscar for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture for 1960's Song Without End (adapting Franz Liszt). IMDB
John Williams (b. 1932) is not only the composer of most of the biggest blockbusters of all time—including Star Wars, E.T., Jaws, the Indiana Jones films, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park and many more, many of them directed by Steven Spielberg—but he has transcended film music to become the world's most famous living composer, and an American institution. His popular symphonic scores are so iconic that they often overshadow the fact that he has been equally proficient at sophisticated, adult fare (Schindler's List, Images) and had a successful career in composing (for television and often comedy features), arranging and performing well before he even met Steven Spielberg. FSM, like most labels, will release everything it can of Williams's music, and has concentrated (for reasons of availability) on his early years as "Johnny" Williams when he was doing sterling work on relatively little-known television and films—always with an amazing attention to melody and detail. In fact, his early works are fascinating for the ways in which they foreshadow his later, world-renowned efforts. IMDB