Jerry Goldsmith was a very prolific composer so awesome he even scared the hell out of his peers. He was known for his thunderous, percussive orchestrations, his love for strange musical instruments, and his inventive integration of synthesizers as the "fifth element" of the orchestra. His varied and impressive works are so many that they are categorized into different genres:
The five incredibly awesome end credits which also served as concert suites:
Star Trek: The Motion Picture. When it comes to popularity, the inventiveness of the instrumentation, the epic grandeur of the scoring and the benefits of modern recording, this is quite simply Goldsmith's greatest score.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Another hugely enjoyable Goldsmith score in which the main theme sandwiches the Klingon theme. Goldsmith even utilizes a wailing electronic ram's horn to emulate the distinctive scream of a large bird for the villains' bird-of-prey.
Star Trek: Insurrection. This pretty and unassuming theme sandwiched in the middle is a sweet little thing, reminiscent of the kind of lofty strings and woodwind in Rudy and several other tender Goldsmith character scores, perfectly evoking the bucolic idyll of the film's locale. (Watch out, he's got an oboe and he's not afraid to use it!)
Star Trek: Nemesis. The maestro's last venture to the Star Trek franchise, where "Blue Skies" is heard on a piano, and it slowly builds up into a full blown Star Trek March.
Star Trek: First Contact. Just the noble and uplifting horn theme bristling with awe inspiring thoughtful woodwinds and strings must surely rank as the most moving musical moment in any of the Star Trek films. Acknowledged by the maestro himself as his best Star Trek score.
"The Dream" may be what everyone remembers in the score for Total Recall (1990), but the meat of this soundtrack is in the middle with its action-packed music that is very engaging (it's not only a great science-fiction soundtrack, it's also the best action score ever):
The aforementioned percussive opening theme, "The Dream", will kick your ass. And you will like it.
With "The Mutant", to represent the futuristic setting of the film and the questions of individual identity suffered by Arnold's character, Goldsmith unleashes his electronics with unequivocal force, supplementing the orchestra and commandeering the entire cues with their majesty, and this track is an excellent example of that.
End Title from The Swarm. The film is one of the more derided 1970s disaster films, but Goldsmith's music is quite simply a knockout score and the kind of music that remains as potent today as it ever was.
"Main Title" from Basic Instinct; the steamiest, sexiest, most erotic score ever made for film. Alluring, sensual but with a sense of foreboding and danger, Goldsmith captured the atmosphere effectively.
"Main Title" as well as "End Title" from Alien. If the terror of the unknown has a theme music, this should be it. Unfortunately Goldsmith's music fell victim to Executive Meddling (the latter, among other cues, isn't heard in the film and tracks from his score to Freud and works by Howard Hanson were put in instead), and sadly it wouldn't be the last time that happened when he worked with Ridley Scott (Legend).
"Twisted Abduction" is a masterpiece of film scoring, with the music reaching apocalyptic proportions with the orchestra and choir at one point before calming down somewhat, pitching Carol Anne's Theme against some more dissonant, disturbing - but subtle - music as the piece moves on.
"It Knows What Scares You" showcases everything so good about Goldsmith's music, moving along from creepy, unsettling territory into more brazen horror before some wonderful writing for orchestra and choir that is otherworldly and truly beautiful.
"Rebirth" is a particular highlight, showcasing the most vigorous music of the score and also the most beautiful transformation of the religious theme into a tumultuous rhythmic motif for low strings and brass accompanied by whimsical female choir.
Goldsmith returns in the sequel, Poltergeist II: The Other Side, and he set out to combine the best of The Omen, Poltergeist, and his concurrent electronics-heavy scores into one gargantuan effort.
"The Power" hints of a gentle waltz being presented in an otherwise-ominous opening, with a forceful brass motif.
In "The Visitor", Goldsmith builds the character's evil persona to such a degree that the music resorts to outright male yelling straight from the underworld after four minutes of the suspicious trombone effects.
In "The Worm", Goldsmith's manipulation of the electronics are brilliantly employed, most notably in the synthetic imitation of blowing wind (and thus passing spirits).
With "They're Back", Goldsmith lets it all loose, and between this cue and "Wild Braces", the chanting provides a truly enticing atmosphere for the horror.
For Congo, Goldsmith collaborated with Lebo M, who is best known for arranging the African Chants in The Lion King. But the highlight – as so often the case with 1990s Goldsmith scores – comes in the action music.
"Bail-out" features a rodeo styled motif in the middle of the track that is really fun and joyful, one of those unbelievably taut, frantic action pieces that Goldsmith did so well.
Suite from The Boys from Brazil; the highlight of this score is the grand, Straussian waltz suggested by Franklin Schaffner to Goldsmith, instantly memorable and beautiful, but with a tinge of darkness too. The director requested that Johann Strauss' Viennese waltz constructs be employed throughout the Jewish presence, while the Nazi presence was inspired by the anti-Semitic Richard Wagner, whose music was often associated with Hitler's Germany. The obvious differences in weight and melodrama inherent in the styles of Strauss and Wagner is precisely the balancing act that Schaffner requested of Goldsmith, and the composer enthusiastically emulated those sounds in battle, once declaring that the score owes more to the classic composers than his own sensibilities.
Planet of the Apes has Jerry Goldsmith's ground breaking avant-garde musical contribution. Goldsmith's score to Apes has quite rightly passed into legend and deservedly holds a classic status.
In "The Search Continues", Goldsmith creates a chilling post apocalyptic vision through echoed plucked strings, bass slide whistle and a multitude of percussive effects, including the inspired use of those mixing bowls, as the Astronauts tumble down a hillside.
"The Clothes Snatchers" introduces some rhythm and tension with more plucked strings, snares, piano and low end brass.
"The Hunt", the most famous of the score's action cues, and one which must surely be considered as one of the most outstanding pieces of film music, with the composer at his most inventive and exciting. An extraordinary piece, Goldsmith combines piano, brass and percussion for a piece of ferocious excitement.
Wild Rovers. One of Goldsmith's brilliant Western scores.
Take A Hard Ride. Arguably the most attractive Western theme of Goldsmith's career; a symphonic representation of Americana as close to Elmer Bernstein's styles as he would get and mixed with Ennio Morricone's experimental new sounds.
100 Rifles is one of Goldsmith's complex, highly-layered scores with creative array of traditional Latin instruments mixed directly with his bombastic, brassy style making this a more intelligent multi-cultural listening experience than some of his other Westerns.
Bad Girls, a brilliant hybrid of Goldsmith's 60's Western sound mix with his top notch 90's action music.
Bandolero is Goldsmith toying with instruments and themes; sprightly with comical tones like something out of The Burbs.
Stagecoach. The melodic main theme is vintage Americana, conjuring images of the wide open plains, broad-smiled guys and gals having a whale of a time.
Jerry Goldsmith's score for Rio Lobo is surprisingly diverse. While featuring some of the main staples of music composed for Westerns of the 1960's, Goldsmith seems to refuse to allow Rio Lobo to be lumped into the same group as a Jerome Moross, Alfred Newman, or Elmer Bernstein Western score. For a John Wayne movie!
Hour of the Gun is a particularly gritty score, and Goldsmith’s technique of constructing thrilling action music and beautiful pastoral pieces from the same thematic material is as evident as it so often has been.
Rio Conchos. Through his explorations of folk rhythms and Latin flavor, and a mixing of these sounds into the soundscape of a fully orchestral ensemble (pioneering a distinct identity in Westerns that Basil Poledouris and many other later composers would adapt as well), Goldsmith successfully seized the opportunity and produced a strong, memorable score for the film and previewed many of his own trademark action music still to come.
Breakheart Pass is vintage Goldsmith, rousing and propulsive, with the brassy orchestra accompanied by guitar; it's another great western theme to add to the composer's roster.
Lonely are the Brave. Recommended for the assignment by Alfred Newman (the veteran never even met Goldsmith in person), Jerry turned in a score that ranks with the best of the best in the western genre. Bernard Herrmann, who attended one of the recording sessions of Lonely Are the Brave, described the Goldsmith music as being too good for the film.
Drama / Comedy
The Edge features a score dominated by horns (and interestingly, without any electronic or synthesizer back up).
"Lost in the Wild" begins with a stunningly lush main theme notably played by horns and strings for the film's opening sequence of a small plane flying across the bleak but beautiful Canadian wilderness. It's this theme that later on identifies Hopkins' character and his relationships with both his cheating wife and Baldwin's 'other man'.
"Bitter Coffee", an ominous, prickly rhythm for plucked elements, anchored by the repetition of a three-note phrase, is frequently employed as a generic backdrop for the scenes of movement through the forest.
"Rescued", the emotional finale piece, sees Goldsmith celebrate the survival of a character with a dramatic rendition of his said character's theme, coupled with a sad oboe statement for the death of another character.
Love theme from The Russia House. Goldsmith crafted a seductively stylish affair that hearkens back to his masterpiece Chinatown, wonderfully evocative of smoky rooms in a bygone era. Goldsmith’s relish at working with such an intimate ensemble is palpable and The Russia House is one of his great, overlooked masterpieces.
You gotta love the jazz and orchestra marriage in the End Credits.
Theme from Papillon; a lush, memorable theme made up of strings, piano and woodwinds dominate this heartfelt score from one of the composer's most personal works.
Love Theme from Chinatown; Goldsmith was only given ten days to write and record the score after the original composer was kicked out. Considering the very short time frame he was given, it's amazing how Goldsmith could still come up with such an amazing and haunting score.
"Prologue - The Artist Who Did Not Want to Paint" from The Agony And The Ecstasy. Goldsmith's friend and mentor Alex North composed the whole score of this film but North invited Goldsmith to wrote the prologue music for the short documentary that aired before the movie on its roadshow presentations. It is arguably his finest work to that point, and remains one of the highlights of the late composer's magnificent career.
Love Field, this is among the maestro's more enjoyable, lesser-known scores of the 1990s.
And another stirring, sentimental love theme from the film Forever Young.
Hoosiers was a major achievement for Goldsmith, as not only had he proved that employing electronics in period dramas and balancing it with a fully symphonic score could result in one of the greatest hybrid scores ever composed, but it remains (along with Rudy) one of the best sports genre scores of all time.
In "The Finals", Goldsmith created a suite from the cues scoring the last act of the film which brings all the themes together in the ultimate film music feel-good package – it’s heartfelt, stirring stuff.
The Concert Suite is pretty impressive even without all the electronic music.
"Rae's Arrival". Opens with a wonderfully catchy, Southern Caribbean-flavored calypso piece for guitar, string orchestra and synths that's like an upbeat distant cousin of Under Fire.
"The Trees". Is truly outstanding, one of the most beautiful that Goldsmith's ever written, capturing (in a purely symphonic idiom) the wonder and overwhelming beauty of the rainforest from great heights.
"A Meal and a Bath" Everything then comes together in this eight-minute finale, summarising all of the main themes.
Suite from Looney Tunes: Back in Action, his last film score. Despite his advancing age and the ravages of his sickness, he still showed that he is still capable of composing rapid fast slapstick cartoonish music which will make Carl Stalling and Milt Franklyn very proud. You could also hear snippets of his previous scores sprinkled in.
"Raisuli Attacks / Guests of Raisuli". A brutal but extremely complicated piece (especially for the trumpets), brilliantly combining the score's main themes together for a piece of such furious excitement it might cause palpitations in the uninitiated, this is truly one of the high-water marks of Jerry Goldsmith's action music.
"Lord of the Riff". A perfect example of how Goldsmith can take most of the score's major themes and lesser motifs and feature them either in progression or on top of each other in very satisfying fashion.
Main Title from Supergirl — easily the best aspect of that film, along with casting Helen Slater.
"King Richard" of Lionheart; grand, noble and totally awesome music, easily the best 8 minutes of the maestro and the last score Goldsmith made for his dear friend Franklin Schaffner before the director passed away.
Goldsmith's score for The Mummy 1999 has everything you could wish for: massive orchestral score with epic action music and sweeping love themes.
The Blue Max in which reportedly, the producers wanted a Germanic composition out of Goldsmith. They even introduced Goldsmith to the project with scenes incorporating a "temp track" from Richard Strauss's Also sprach Zarathustra. The result was one of the greatest war scores ever composed in movie history and considered to be the first of Goldsmith's epic achievements.
Main Title and The Final Message from Tora! Tora! Tora!. Goldsmith's ethnic scoring abilities are second to none; it's a complex score filled with some of the most avant-garde writing you are likely to ever here from the composer.
The score to First Knight is chock full of epicness from the maestro.
Suite from The Shadow hits Elfman-like proportions but is without a doubt quintessential Goldsmith.
Under Fire is simply one of Goldsmith's top action scores.
"Bajo Fuego", one of the more ambitious action cues composed by Goldsmith, is really quite brilliant, a gorgeous piece for guitar and orchestra full of passion and excitement.
The brilliant "19 de Julio", a slightly off-kilter melody that is played by keyboards before a sudden and delightful trumpet flourish which seems simply achingly beautiful.
"A New Love" is an extended version of the score's love theme for keyboards, guitar and strings with in a very memorable and deliberate high string rendition. It's another piece of unbridled passion, showing how much beauty can be suggested by a piece of instrumental music without the need for the full clichéd swell of an orchestra.
"Nicaragua", the stunning finale piece, unquestionably one of the highlights of Goldsmith's career, a magnificent concert arrangement of the main march theme. (Quentin Tarantino loved this score so much he used it for a key scene in Django Unchained.)
"Fairy Dance". Another expressive piece, a lovely piece of music (which was written before filming so that the scene could be choreographed to the music - of course, the scene then went on to be cut) that reaches an absolute frenzy of excitement by its conclusion.
"The Unicorns". Shows just how ambitious and detailed Goldsmith wrote this, an extended (eight-minute) piece of majestic beauty, expressive and colourful to the max, a gleeful fantasy.
"Darkness Falls". The big action cue of the score. What more needs to be said? Goldsmith lets loose with rumbling percussion and assaults from the brass with epic choir added for good measure.
"The Ring". Sees the reversal of this process in another expressive and detailed portrait of beauty featuring some stunning writing for choir.
"Reunited". Goes through a few of the main themes, including the stunning love theme, wrapping up the score in remarkable fashion
"Soarin'". The soundtrack Goldsmith wrote plays throughout the entire attraction; Goldsmith is said to have come down from his first ride in tears. He loved the ride so much he said he would've done the score for free.