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Jerry Goldsmith
A Biography By Daniel Henderson

While Hollywood is plagued with untalented hacks that only produce clichés, there are those who create the masterpieces that will be copied later. One of those individuals is Jerry Goldsmith. At 72, he is one of the oldest names currently working in the field today. However he shows no signs of letting up as he has already committed to four movies this year, including the new John Travolta movie Domestic Disturbance.

Jerrald Goldsmith was born on February 10th, 1929, in Los Angeles, CA. He went to college at the University of Southern California (USC Film School) to attend classes in film composition taught by film great Miklos Rozsa (Ben Hur), piano lessons with Jacob Gimpel, and Composition, Theory and Counterpoint with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (who later taught John Williams). In 1950, Goldsmith was hired by CBS as a typist in the Music Department where he received his first opportunity to score serials and radio dramas on a weekly basis. He was a contract composer at CBS in the early 1960's when he was asked to score The Twilight Zone.

The Twilight Zone brought Goldsmith into the public eye. Goldsmith came aboard in the second season of the show, filling the enormous void left by Bernard Herrmann. Already a legend in Hollywood, having scored the Alfred Hitchcock masterpieces Vertigo and North by Northwest, only made Goldsmith's task more daunting. Goldsmith quickly established a reputation for working under strict time and budget constraints, only having eight players at times where typical TV orchestras were four times a large. His most memorable score was "The Invaders," which showcased his avant-garde style by using strings, a piano, an organ, and a celeste in a striking, atonal style reminiscent of Planet of the Apes later in his career. Goldsmith's talent for creative orchestrations began to show with Duet; an episode set in the old west where Goldsmith uses a harmonica and guitar to create an uneasy atmosphere. Goldsmith later used a harpsichord and string ensemble in "Back There," a story where a time traveler tries to prevent the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The music for that episode enhanced the suspense so successfully that it was tracked and used again in the memorable "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" with William Shatner and later on with John Lithgow in Twilight Zone: The Movie.

After earning his 1st Academy Award nomination for Freud, his next big assignment was Franklin J. Schaffner 's Planet of the Apes in 1968 which earned Goldsmith his 4th Academy Award Nomination. In this score Goldsmith constructs one of the most original scores in film history and creates a sound unheard of from the orchestra. The only electronic instrument used in the score, which are prevalent in current film scores, was an Echoplex which made any sound sent through it echo like it was in a cave. Goldsmith utilized a Brazilian Cuika for the first appearance of the Apes while hunting Charleton Heston and the primitive humans, brass instruments without mouthpieces, and bass clarinets clacking their keys. Goldsmith also weaved several complex piano lines into the film that were brought to life by his former piano instructor Jacob Gimpel. In what would become one of Hollywood's legendary director/composer relationships like Alfred Hitchcock/Bernard Herrmann and Steven Spielberg/John Williams, Schaffner and Goldsmith continued their relationship through seven additional movies including the Oscar nominated Papillion, Patton, and The Boys from Brazil.

Goldsmith's only Academy Award to date came from The Omen in 1976, a horror film starring Gregory Peck and directed by Richard Donner. The Omen won the Oscar for Best Original Score and was nominated for Best Original Song for Ave Satani, the main theme. The score featured yet another of Goldsmith's innovations used by others in horror movies, namely the satanic choir chanting in Latin. In the liner notes to the soundtrack CD Goldsmith remarked, "I wrote the main motif and the whole layout for the chorus in one day. And although I didn't need more than 16 bars of a love theme in the whole film, the bridge afforded me a motif that I web throughout the film." He also credits much of the choral work to his long time friend and orchestrator, the late Arthur Morton. "At least 65% of the choral writing was arranged by Arthur," he says, "and he opened it up in a way that sounded much better than the way I wrote it." This was also of the first score conducted by the legendary Lionel Newman and performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra in London.

In 1978, he reunited with Newman and the National Philharmonic Orchestra for Ridley Scott's Alien. In one of his greatest film scores, Goldsmith took a modernistic approach to the score that bore resemblance to his earlier works, opposite to the Wagnerian technique of "leitmotif" that John Williams established for Star Wars in 1977. There is little tonality in the score as the main title is made up of string scratches, vibration echoes, low woodwind passages, and some percussion. To enhance the emotionless atonality, Goldsmith utilized several rare instruments like the serpent, didjerido, shaum, and log drums, enhancing the "alien" effect of the movie.
Unfortunately, Alien also featured one of the most famous editing jobs in Hollywood, second only to Alex North's deleted score to 2001: A Space Odyssey, as a result of Ridely Scott's temp score. As Goldsmith explained in The Alien Trilogy CD liner notes, "Directors and editors use temporary music tracks and sometimes it's the kiss of death for a composer. They had been living with this music for months, and they were use to it." As a result, half of the music was placed in other sections in the film than Goldsmith intended. There was a sequence in the movie that was tracked with music from Goldsmith's Academy Nominated score Freud that Ridely Scott bought and used in the film.

The original main title theme, which Goldsmith preferred, used the same motif that was present when the Nostromo landed on LV-426, providing a break in the harsh score. While some say the new main title was a better choice for the film, all agree that the end title that was deleted in favor of Howard Hanson's Symphony No. #2, which bore no relation to the movie, was a mistake. The end title was a reprise of the motif from the Nostromo landing, but was developed into a stirring ballad to end the movie. Alien was released in 1979, and while Goldsmith was passed over for an Oscar nomination, he did receive a Golden Globe nomination. His other major score that year was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award is probably Goldsmith's most famous score: Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
The production history behind Star Trek: The Motion Picture was a disaster. Script problems bogged down filming, forcing the producers to depend solely on the special effects to carry the second half of the movie. Recording the score with the Los Angeles Studio Symphony lasted from September 1979 to December 1st, six days before the December 7th release date. The addition of the effects forced Goldsmith to throw away nearly 25 minutes of music he had already produced, one of which was an alternate version of "The Enterprise." The V'Ger entity was personified in the music with an instrument called the blaster beam. The blaster beam consisted of polished artillery shells with motorized magnets on a 15-foot instrument. The result is a deep, thunderous sound that hasn't been heard since, giving V'Ger an unmistakably alien feel. In addition to the blaster beam, Goldsmith penned what may be his most famous theme in cinematic history: The Star Trek March, later used in the movie series and adapted for the main theme to Star Trek: The Next Generation.

During the 1980's, Goldsmith started experimenting with electronic and synthesizer effects. While they helped create some of his most memorable scores like The Final Conflict and Rambo: First Blood Part II, they also ruined several scores. King Solomon's Mines was one of the victims of this phase. Goldsmith wrote a frantic and upbeat score that came close to B-movie quality, doing little to enhance the movie (which earned him a Razzie Nomination for Worst Original Score). Oddly enough, this was the last "all-orchestral" score that Goldsmith wrote until 1995's First Knight.

The 1980's also showed the emergence of another composer's career: James Horner. The relationship between Horner and Goldsmith is much deeper than some may realize (Horner even dated one of Goldsmith's daughters). Horner was a young upstart during that time scoring Roger Corman movies. His big break was Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the sequel to Star Trek: The Motion Picture. While a sequel in the same universe would constitute some reuse, Horner used part of a cue from Alien as a basis for the sequence when Khan first attacks the Enterprise, but this was not an isolated incident. All through the 1980's, Horner borrowed several elements from Goldsmith's other scores, (notably Capricorn One) and wove them into his scores. While working on Aliens, Horner reused several parts of Goldsmith's Alien score (like the 'time' motif) and even used a recording of Goldsmith's score for a scene in the movie. Horner earned an Academy Award nomination for Aliens.

In the 1990's, Goldsmith's career stabilized to a level of mediocrity as a result of the films he was assigned to score. Throughout the decade, Goldsmith scored dramas like Sleeping with the Enemy and Rudy where mellow themes and slow passages which had the excepted norm. He returned to the Star Trek universe in 1997 and 1998 with First Contact (co-written with his son Joel due to production of The Ghost and the Darkness taking longer than expected) and Insurrection, but both scores lacked the energy of The Motion Picture and The Final Frontier. However, Goldsmith still had a couple of tricks up his sleeve. In 1990, he was hired to compose the score for the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Total Recall that teamed him with director Paul Verhoeven for the first time.

Total Recall was the first in a line of movies Goldsmith made with Verhoeven and resulted in a score performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra in London. In what some refer to as 'The Ultimate Goldsmith Action Score,' the score was a culmination of Goldsmith merging his control of the orchestra and electronic effects. Verhoeven was so impressed with the score that he wanted to listen to the score. Their next movie was the Oscar nominated Basic Instinct in 1992.

As Christian Clemmenson at describes Basic Instinct, "Make no mistake about it, Jerry Goldsmith's ability to brilliantly capture the essence of an orgasm with the National Philharmonic Orchestra earned him his first Academy Award nomination in many years." In the Composer Commentary portion of the Hollow Man DVD, Goldsmith stated that he considers Basic Instinct to be one of his best scores and his most difficult. While trying to avoid the clichés associated with erotic thrillers, Goldsmith almost left the production because he could not find the musical essence of the movie. Verhoeven can be credited in part with the score's success because he often remarked, "This is good, but you can do better" during the spotting sessions, driving Goldsmith to the peaks of his ability and his first Oscar nomination since 1986. With Hollow Man in 2000, it is no wonder why many consider the Verhoeven/Goldsmith relationship as one of the greatest director/composer relationships in Hollywood with only three movies to their credit.

At the end of the 20th Century, Goldsmith's future looks bright. Arthur Hiller, President of the Academy of Motion Picture Academy President, commissioned Goldsmith to compose a theme for the Academy Awards ceremony in 1998, passing over several famous composers like John Williams for the honor. Several of his classic scores, for films including Total Recall, Planet of the Apes, and Twilight Zone: The Movie, are being re-released and expanded. He's signed on for several movies in 2001, and his son Joel is in the middle of composing the fourth season of the TV show Stargate: SG-1. In addition to his current assignments, Goldsmith will be performing with the London Symphony Orchestra on June 28, 2001 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Even in his 70's, Goldsmith shows no sign of retirement.

Movie Release Date Awards and Honors

Position Job Title

Black Patch 1957   Composer
City of Fear 1959   Composer
Face of a Fugitive 1959   Composer
Thriller 1960   TV Score
The Twilight Zone 1960   TV Score
The Crimebusters 1961   Composer
The General With the Cockeyed Id 1961   Composer
Freud 1962 Oscar Nomination for Best Original Score Composer
The Spiral Road 1962   Composer
Lonely Are the Brave 1962   Composer
The Prize 1963   Composer
The List of Adrian Messenger 1963   Composer
Take Her, She's Mine 1963   Composer
A Gathering of Eagles 1963   Composer
Lilies of the Field 1963   Composer
The Stripper 1963   Composer
Rio Conchos 1964   Composer
Fate is the Hunter 1964   Composer
Shock Treatment 1964   Composer
To Trap a Spy 1964   Composer
Seven Days in May 1964 Golden Globe Nomination for Best Score Composer
The Trouble with Angels 1965   Composer
Our Man Flint 1965   Composer
Prologue: The Artist Who Did Not Want to Paint 1965   Composer
A Patch of Blue 1965 Oscar Nomination for Best Original Score Composer
Morituri 1965   Composer
Von Ryan's Express 1965   Composer
The Satan Bug 1965   Composer
In Harm's Way 1965   Composer
Seconds 1966   Composer
The Sand Pebbles 1966 Oscar Nomination for Best Original Score Golden Globe Nomination for Best Original Score Composer
One of Our Spies is Missing 1966   Composer
The Blue Max 1966   Composer
Stagecoach 1966   Composer
Hour of the Gun 1967   Composer
The Flim-Flam Man 1967   Composer
Warning Shot 1967   Composer
In Like Flint 1967   Composer
Sebastian 1968   Composer
Bandolero! 1968   Composer
The Detective 1968   Composer
Planet of the Apes 1968 Oscar Nomination for Best Original Score Composer
Justine 1969   Composer
The Chairman 1969   Composer
The Illustrated Man 1969   Composer
Rio Lobo 1970   Composer
The Traveling Executioner 1970   Composer
Tora, Tora, Tora! 1970   Composer
The Ballad of Cable Hogue 1970   Composer
Patton 1970 Oscar Nomination for Best Original Score Composer
The Last Run 1971   Composer
The Mephisto Waltz 1971   Composer
Wild Rovers 1971   Composer
Escape From the Planet of the Apes 1971   Composer
The Man 1972   Composer
The Other 1972   Composer
Ace Eli and Roger of the Skies 1973   Composer
One Little Indian 1973   Composer
Papillion 1973 Oscar Nomination for Best Original Score Composer
Shamus 1973   Composer
Chinatown 1974

Oscar Nomination for Best Original Score, BAFTA Film Nomination for Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music, Golden Globe Nomination for Best Original Score

Breakheart Pass 1975   Composer
The Wind and the Lion 1975 Oscar Nomination for Best Original Score, BAFTA Nomination, Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music Composer
The Reincarnation of Peter Proud 1975   Composer
Take a Hard Ride 1975   Composer
The Terrorists 1975   Composer
Breakout 1975   Composer
Logan's Run 1976   Composer
The Cassandra Crossing 1976   Composer
The Omen 1976 Oscar Award for Best Original Score, Oscar Nomination for Best Original Song Composer
Damnation Alley 1977   Composer
MacArthur 1977   Composer
Islands in the Stream 1977   Composer
High Velocity 1977   Composer
Twilight's Last Gleaming 1977   Composer
The Boys From Brazil 1978 Oscar Nomination for Best Original Score, Saturn Nomination for Best Music Composer
Magic 1978 Saturn Nomination for Best Music Composer
Damien: Omen II 1978   Composer
Capricorn One 1978   Composer
Coma 1978   Composer
The Swarm 1978   Composer
Players 1979   Composer
Star Trek: The Motion Picture 1979 Oscar Nomination for Best Original Score, Golden Globe Nomination for Best Original Score Composer
Alien 1979 Golden Globe Nomination for Best Original Score, BAFTA Film Nomination for Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music Composer
The First Great Train Robbery 1979   Composer
Caboblanco 1980   Composer
Night Crossing 1981   Composer
The Salamander 1981   Composer


1981   Composer
Raggedy Man 1981   Composer
The Final Conflict (alsoknown as OMEN III) 1981   Composer
First Blood 1982   Composer
Inchon 1982   Composer
The Challenge 1982   Composer
The Secret of NIHM 1982   Composer
Poltergeist 1982 Oscar Nomination for Best Original Score Composer
Under Fire 1983 Oscar Nomination for Best Original Score, Golden Globe Nomination for Best Original Score Composer
Psycho II 1983   Composer
Twilight Zone: The Movie 1983   Composer
Runaway 1984   Composer
Supergirl 1984   Composer
Gremlins 1984   Composer
The Lonely Guy 1984   Composer
King Solomon's Mines 1985 Razzie Nomination for Worst Original Score Composer


1985   Composer
Rambo: First Blood Pt. II 1985 Razzie Award for Worst Original Song Composer
Baby… Secret of the Lost Legend 1985   Composer
Explorers 1985   Composer
Innerspace 1986   Composer
Hoosiers 1986 Oscar Nomination for Best Original Score Composer
Link 1986   Composer
Aliens 1986   Incidental Music
Poltergeist II: The Other Side 1986   Composer
Extreme Prejudice 1987   Composer
Lionheart 1987   Composer
Star Trek: The Next Generation 1987   Main Theme
Criminal Law 1988   Composer
Rent-a-Cop 1988   Composer
Rambo III 1988   Composer
Warlock 1989   Composer
Leviathan 1989   Composer
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier 1989   Composer
'burbs, The 1989   Composer
Gremlins 2: The New Batch 1990   Composer
The Russia House 1990   Composer
Total Recall 1990   Composer
Sleeping With the Enemy 1991   Composer
Not Without My Daughter 1991   Composer
Forever Young 1992   Composer
Love Field 1992   Composer
Medicine Man 1992   Composer
Mom and Dad Save the World 1992   Composer
Mr. Baseball 1992   Composer
Basic Instinct 1992 Oscar Nomination for Best Original Score, Cannes Film Festival Nomination for Golden Palm, Golden Globe Nomination for Best Original Score Composer
Dennis the Menace 1993   Composer
Six Degrees of Separation 1993   Composer
The Vanishing 1993   Composer
Malice 1993   Composer
Rudy 1993   Composer
Matinee 1993   Composer
Angie 1994   Composer
IQ 1994   Composer
The River Wild 1994   Composer
The Shadow 1994   Composer
Bad Girls 1994   Composer
Powder 1995   Composer
First Knight 1995   Composer
Congo 1995   Composer
Star Trek: Voyager
1995 Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Main Title Theme Music Main Theme
Star Trek: First Contact 1996   Composer
The Ghost and the Darkness 1996   Composer
Chain Reaction 1996   Composer
Executive Decision 1996   Composer
City Hall 1996   Composer
Alien Resurrection 1997   Incidental Music
The Edge 1997   Composer
Air Force One 1997   Composer
L.A. Confidential 1997 Oscar Nomination for Best Original Score, BAFTA Nomination for Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music, Golden Globe Nomination for Best Original Score Composer
Fierce Creatures 1997   Composer
Star Trek: Insurrection 1998   Composer
Small Soliders 1998   Composer
Mulan 1998 Oscar Nomination for Best Music: Original Music or Comedy Score, Golden Globe Nomination for Best Original Score & Best Original Song Composer
U.S. Marshalls 1998   Composer
Deep Rising 1998   Composer
The Haunting
1999   Composer
The 13th Warrior 1999   Composer
The Mummy 1999 Saturn Award Nomination for Best Music Composer
Hollow Man 2000   Composer

Along Came a Spider

2001   Composer

Domestic Disturbance

2001   Composer
Rat Race 2001   Composer
The Castle 2001   Composer
The Shipping News 2001   Composer

Planet of the Apes

2001   Composer