Tag Archives: Film Music Society

Daniel Pemberton’s music for “U.N.C.L.E.”

PembertonUNCLEscoreAs many of you know, I have often written about music for spy films and TV. This story combines both. English composer Daniel Pemberton has scored Guy Ritchie’s new feature-film adaptation of the classic 1960s series The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which opens on Aug. 14. Pemberton finds a new musical signature for the movie by incorporating all kinds of classic ’60s spy sounds from harpsichord to cimbalom and mandolin. It’s great fun, so I interviewed Pemberton about his musical choices and the unusual recording techniques he employed. (There’s also a hint about precisely where fans will discover the original Jerry Goldsmith TV theme. But just a hint.)

Anne Dudley’s music for “Poldark”

poldarkIt’s rare that a dramatic score for a television series becomes a full partner in the storytelling process. That’s one of the reasons I have so enjoyed Anne Dudley’s music for Poldark, the period drama currently playing on PBS’s Masterpiece series (which has already become a sensation in the UK after the BBC aired it earlier this year). Dudley, who was also responsible for the delightful music for another British TV classic,  Jeeves & Wooster, talked with me about the Cornish folk-music roots of her score for Poldark — and why the violin plays such a key role.

This year’s music Emmy nominees

67EmmysPosterThe 2014-2015 Emmy Award nominees were unveiled this morning. Emmy divides TV music into five categories: original music for a series, original music for a movie/miniseries/special, music direction, music and lyrics (the song category) and main-title theme music. This year’s crop is especially diverse — everything from Penny Dreadful to Transparent —  but is equally notable for what wasn’t nominated (songs from Empire or Galavant, for example). Here is a complete rundown with a bit of perspective. (And if Bruce Broughton wins for Texas Rising, his will mark a record 11th Emmy win.) Winners will be announced Sept. 19.

Those “Marvel Super Heroes” songs

MarvelcartoonsIf you grew up in the 1960s, you may well remember the brief but clever themes for the Marvel Super Heroes cartoons that featured Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk and Sub-Mariner. The animation was pretty cheap, admittedly, but as a Marvel Comics fan I watched them all religiously and, truth be told, I can still sing all five of those super-hero songs. I tracked down New York songwriter Jack Urbont, who gave me the surprising story of how he got the gig, where he recorded them, and how they have endured for almost 50 years in American pop culture.

“Back to the Future” at the Hollywood Bowl

BTTF-jonwebTalk about a fun assignment: Last night, the Los Angeles Philharmonic played Alan Silvestri’s music for the 1985 film Back to the Future “live to picture,” with the estimable David Newman conducting. It was a near-sellout with more than 16,000 people attending, and the crowd cheered every iconic moment in the time-travel romp starring Michael J. Fox. I interviewed the composer about his memories of scoring Back to the Future — which was only his second opportunity to write for orchestra — and why he wrote another 20 minutes of music specifically for these live presentations.

James Horner: An Appreciation

JB with James Horner post-"Avatar"

JB with James Horner post-“Avatar”

This week’s shocking loss of composer James Horner has upended the entire film music world. Everyone I know is still in disbelief. Many are using social-media platforms to eulogize him and recall their favorite scores. On Monday I wrote the obituary for Variety, after word came that his plane had crashed in Ventura County, Calif., and that he had not survived. And today I’ve added some personal thoughts and historical perspective in an appreciation piece dotted with photos of him taken over the past three decades. I liked James very much; we first met in the aftermath of his Titanic success, and over the years we spent hours on the phone discussing his subsequent work.

Interviewing composers at BMI bash

IMG_9710 - redcarpetDesplat-smAlexandre Desplat and Chris Montan (the Oscar-winning composer of The Grand Budapest Hotel and president of music for the Walt Disney Company, respectively) took top honors at this year’s BMI Film and TV Music Awards dinner. Here is my overview of the evening’s speeches and additional awards. Part of the fun, though, was doing the on-camera interviews on the red carpet — some of which are now showing up online. This link will take you to my brief chats with Desplat, Montan, Brian Tyler (talking about doing Marvel movies), Fil Eisler (Revenge) and Gwendolyn Sanford (Orange Is the New Black).

Ian Fraser Remembered

IanFraser2012Ian Fraser was among the most beloved of music directors in Hollywood. The winner of more music Emmys than anyone in history, he was also an Oscar nominee and favorite collaborator of Julie Andrews, songwriter Leslie Bricusse, and many others. The name of Ian Fraser as music director on any project — whether film, TV, a stage show or an album — always assured a classy orchestral sound and impeccable taste. Fraser, who died in October, was remembered at a memorial service yesterday by some of his famous friends, including Andrews, Bricusse and composer John Williams. Here is a recap of the event.

Oscar’s musical weekend

Now that the 87th Academy Awards are in the record books, a rundown and a little historical perspective. The hot ticket for music mavens on Oscar weekend is always the Society of Composers & Lyricists’ champagne reception for song and score nominees, and we were delighted to attend again this year. Then, last night’s ceremonies, which included plenty of music including performances of all five nominated songs. “Glory” was especially moving for those in the audience, and won the gold statue moments later. Composer Alexandre Desplat beat the odds by winning (for The Grand Budapest Hotel) despite having two nominations this year. I talk about that, and other musical details of the show, in this weekend wrapup.

Classic film music: the year’s best

One of my favorite year-end tasks is compiling a list of what I think were the best albums of classic film and TV music to be released during the previous 12 months. First-time-ever releases (like Leonard Bernstein’s original On the Waterfront tracks), re-recordings (John Barry’s The Betsy), reissues on CD (Jerry Goldsmith’s Our Man Flint and In Like Flint LPs), expanded classics (Michel Legrand’s The Thomas Crown Affair) and box sets of great film and TV music (Elmer Bernstein’s Ava LPs, Star Trek: Enterprise) are all included. I chose 20, and had to drop five or six more that I really liked because of limited space. Thanks to all the producers and label execs who work so hard to keep us film-music buffs happy.