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 Filmtracks.com 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
|City of Fear||1959||Composer|
|Face of a Fugitive||1959||Composer|
|The Twilight Zone||1960||TV Score|
|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 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|
|Fate is the Hunter||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|
|Von Ryan's Express||1965||Composer|
|The Satan Bug||1965||Composer|
|In Harm's Way||1965||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|
|Hour of the Gun||1967||Composer|
|The Flim-Flam Man||1967||Composer|
|In Like Flint||1967||Composer|
|Planet of the Apes||1968||Oscar Nomination for Best Original Score||Composer|
|The Illustrated Man||1969||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|
|Escape From the Planet of the Apes||1971||Composer|
|Ace Eli and Roger of the Skies||1973||Composer|
|One Little Indian||1973||Composer|
|Papillion||1973||Oscar Nomination for Best Original Score||Composer|
Oscar Nomination for Best Original Score, BAFTA Film Nomination for Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music, Golden Globe Nomination for Best Original Score
|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 Cassandra Crossing||1976||Composer|
|The Omen||1976||Oscar Award for Best Original Score, Oscar Nomination for Best Original Song||Composer|
|Islands in the Stream||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|
|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|
|The Final Conflict (alsoknown as OMEN III)||1981||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|
|Twilight Zone: The Movie||1983||Composer|
|The Lonely Guy||1984||Composer|
|King Solomon's Mines||1985||Razzie Nomination for Worst Original Score||Composer|
|Rambo: First Blood Pt. II||1985||Razzie Award for Worst Original Song||Composer|
|Baby Secret of the Lost Legend||1985||Composer|
|Hoosiers||1986||Oscar Nomination for Best Original Score||Composer|
|Poltergeist II: The Other Side||1986||Composer|
|Star Trek: The Next Generation||1987||Main Theme|
|Star Trek V: The Final Frontier||1989||Composer|
|Gremlins 2: The New Batch||1990||Composer|
|The Russia House||1990||Composer|
|Sleeping With the Enemy||1991||Composer|
|Not Without My Daughter||1991||Composer|
|Mom and Dad Save the World||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 River Wild||1994||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|
|Alien Resurrection||1997||Incidental Music|
|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|
|Star Trek: Insurrection||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|
|The 13th Warrior||1999||Composer|
|The Mummy||1999||Saturn Award Nomination for Best Music||Composer|
|The Shipping News||2001||Composer|
Planet of the Apes