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Awesome Music / Jerry Goldsmith

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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:

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    Sci-Fi / Horror 
  • The opening theme for Psycho II.
  • Main Title from Capricorn One. Pure, high octane, bad ass.
  • "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.
    • The best, "End of A Dream", is saved for last. Simply sensational, the single finest piece of action music Goldsmith's ever written - and that's saying something. For comparison, listen to Rambo: First Blood Part II and Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend.
    • 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.
  • "A Lot Better" from Leviathan (1989). Goldsmith captured the mystery and excitement of the deep underwater magnificently.
  • 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 (1985)).
  • "Suite" from The Omen (1976). Ominous Latin Chanting as ominous as it gets. Sadly, the only Academy Award win the maestro received.
  • Damien: Omen IIMain Title and End Title. Terrifying musical follow up to The Omen (1976).
  • And if you like your chanting a little more operatic, try the Main Title and End Title of Omen III: The Final Conflict.
  • The End Credits from The Ghost and the Darkness, one of Goldsmith's finest scores from the 90s.
  • Main Title and Carol Anne's Theme from Poltergeist, one of the only two films where Goldsmith has worked with director Steven Spielberg.
    • "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.
  • Overture and "Kick the Can" from Twilight Zone: The Movie. The other Spielberg movie where Goldsmith was chosen to be the composer (and the only time Goldsmith scored footage Spielberg actually directed).
  • "Gremlin Rag" from Gremlins, Goldsmith's memorable theme that's jaunty and entertaining. The Gremlins orchestral suite is even more grand.
  • "Gremlins Credits" from Gremlins 2: The New Batch is simply wonderful, combining the new theme, the classic Gremlins Rag and Gizmo's Theme in a piece as funky as Goldsmith's ever written.
  • "The Carousel" from The Haunting (1999). As one reviewer put it, "Because no horror movie would be complete without Creepy Circus Music."
  • "Morning on the Beach" from Sleeping with the Enemy; opens with what is essentially "Laura's Theme" for lush gentle strings, flute and piano, as consistently charming as any the composer had ever written.
  • While Goldsmith's entire Deep Rising score is excellent, the real standout is his kick-ass Main Theme.
  • Most of the music from Explorers is great. Especially as the theme music swelled as the Thunder Road was lifting off and Dick Miller was watching it with this look of total awe:
  • For Congo, Goldsmith collaborated with Lebo M, who is best known for arranging the African Chants in The Lion King (1994). 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.
    • The heroic "Meet Monroe Kelly" is very enjoyable.
    • "Help Me" is a particularly intense piece, almost pummeling the listener into submission (in a good way!).
    • "Amy's Nightmare / Kahega" is the spectacular action finale, again quite incredibly exciting.
    • "Amy's Farewell/Spirit of Africa/End Credits". A typically-satisfying Goldsmith finale cue.
  • 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.
  • Runaway was Goldsmith's first attempt to create an all-electronic score, and in that regard it certainly doesn't disappoint.
    • "Lockons" is a great piece to drive down the freeway to.
    • "The Resolution" is a surprisingly pleasant little ditty, full of bright, buoyant keys that feel a whole universe away from the techno-dystopia they're meant to accompany. And then the epic synth riff kicks in.
    • "Alley Fight" is one of those pieces that makes you want to kick ass, with its dynamic synths perfectly capturing the drama of an alleyway fight.
    • "Psychic Reading" is tension building at its finest.
  • "The Colony" from Outland, with its combination of electronics and dissonant, Stravinsky-style orchestration, perfectly captures the intimidating vastness of outer space.

  • Jerry Goldsmith also made his indelible mark in the Western genre (he's probably the only American composer ever to have successfully captured the spirit of Spaghetti Western):
    • 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.
    • "The Edge". End credits with a jazzy number.
  • The Theme and Everywhere from Powder; soft and sensitive, lovely in its harmonic appeal.
  • 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.
  • Main Title from A Patch of Blue. One of Jerry Goldsmith's simple yet beautiful scores.
  • Islands in the Stream. Acknowledged by the maestro as his own personal favorite.
  • "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.
  • "Bloody Christmas" and "The Victor" from L.A. Confidential, considered to be the Spiritual Successor to Chinatown.
  • I.Q. A little homage to "Twinkle, twinkle, little star,".
  • End Credits from The 'Burbs; Goldsmith at his wackiest, most ridiculous. He even makes fun of himself and homages/parodies Ennio Morricone's spaghetti westerns in this score:
  • 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.
    • "Best Shot".
    • 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.
  • Medicine Man:
    • "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.
  • Night Crossing: "In The West." The music is tense as the families try to figure out if they had escaped, then instantly turns uplifting.

    Action / Adventure 
  • 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.
  • MacArthur and Patton. Totally awesome and memorable marches composed by the maestro for the two most highly decorated generals in history.
  • 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 for The Challenge starring Toshiro Mifune as a modern samurai is both beautiful and exciting.
  • The Great Train Robbery. Both the Rotten Row and End titles are fantastic.
  • King Solomon's Mines. Not intentionally a tongue-in-cheek parody of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • 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.)
  • Assembly Line from Small Soldiers; another brilliant score in the Goldsmith- Joe Dante collaboration.
  • Legend (1985) marks one of the finest examples of Goldsmith's integration of electronics and large orchestra (sadly, it would also prove to be one of his most horrifying experiences ever).
    • Main Title/"The Goblins". Synths and woodwinds open the track giving a very airy, fantasy feel.
    • "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
  • Rescue from Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend, which joins the ranks of some of Goldsmith's best ass-kicking brass and percussion action score.
  • "September 11, 2001: The Theme to The Last Castle". Not to mention "Taking Command" and "The Flag".

    Non-Film / Other Scores 


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