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Music / Jerry Goldsmith

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"If I were a producer or director and I was looking for someone to score a film, my first choice would be Jerry Goldsmith. Jerry is uncompromising in his drive for excellence, uncompromising in his bravery to experiment with other media. He is the kind of composer that makes a film."

Jerrald King "Jerry" Goldsmith (February 10, 1929 – July 21, 2004) was a famous and prolific American film score composer from Los Angeles, California. Goldsmith was nominated for eighteen Academy Awards (winning one, for The Omen (1976)), and also won five Emmy Awards.

Goldsmith learned to play the piano with Jakob Gimpel at age six (he would later employ Gimpel to play piano in his soundtracks for Planet of the Apes and The Mephisto Waltz). At fourteen, he studied composition, theory and counterpoint with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (whose other prestigious students were Nelson Riddle, André Previn, Henry Mancini and John Williams). Goldsmith attended the University of Southern California, where he became the student of film composition by legendary composer Miklós Rózsa, who had written the score for the Ingrid Bergman movie Spellbound. Goldsmith developed an interest in writing scores for movies after being inspired by Rózsa.


Goldsmith went on to collaborate with many great filmmakers throughout his career, including Robert Wise (The Sand Pebbles, Star Trek: The Motion Picture), Howard Hawks (Rio Lobo), Otto Preminger (In Harm's Way), Roman Polański (Chinatown), Steven Spielberg / Tobe Hooper (Poltergeist), and Ridley Scott (Alien). But his most fruitful collaboration was arguably that with Franklin Schaffner (for whom Goldsmith scored Planet of the Apes (1968), Patton and Papillon).

Goldsmith was perhaps the most eclectic composer in cinema, providing tailor-made scores for many different genres, including war films (The Blue Max), film noir (L.A. Confidential), action movies (First Blood), erotic thrillers (Basic Instinct), sports pictures (Rudy), westerns (Bad Girls), comic book adaptations (Supergirl), and science fiction (the original Total Recall (1990) and five Star Trek films). His ability to write visceral, terrifying music won him his only Academy Award for his violent choral/orchestral score for The Omen (1976). He also was awarded with Emmys for The Red Pony, the Holocaust drama QB VII, the Babe Didrikson Zaharias biopic Babe (fun fact: Goldsmith was later attached to score the better-known movie of the same name, but it didn't happen) and the epic Masada, as well as the theme from Star Trek: Voyager.


Due to his wide grasp of different musical techniques, Goldsmith's scores were never as quickly identifiable as those of composers with narrower abilities. Goldsmith was a lover of innovation and adaptation, and the use of strange instruments. His score for Alien for example featured an orchestra augmented by shofar, steel drum and serpent (a Medieval instrument), while creating further "alien" sounds by filtering string pizzicati through an echoplex. Many of the instruments in Alien were used in such atypical ways they were virtually unidentifiable. Goldsmith was also a studious researcher of ethnic music, and found uses for South American Zampoñas in Under Fire, native tribal chants in Congo, and brilliantly interwove a traditional Irish folk melody with African rhythms in The Ghost and the Darkness. His genius for creation and innovation delighted his fans - and often intimidated his peers. Henry Mancini, another great film music composer, once admitted that Goldsmith "scares the hell out of us."

Over time Goldsmith's interest in unusual instruments seemed to wane, and he relied more and more on synthesisers in searching for new timbres. While his electronic work was unquestionably inventive, many colleagues and fans alike began to feel he was becoming a little too synthesised. Some of his 80s work sounds a little dated today, owing to synth timbres (particularly on the Yamaha DX7) which were common to the era. That said, Goldsmith also got also some extraordinary sounds out of the DX7 and other digital keyboards of the 80s, many of which remain quite arresting 20 years on.

In addition to his countless television and film works, Goldsmith composed the Universal Studios Logo Theme that's been in use since The Lost World: Jurassic Park (and rather than be replaced for its 100th anniversary was rearranged by Brian Tyler), along with the themes that went with the Carolco, Cinergi, and C2 Pictures logos (the Carolco and Cinergi logo themes can be heard on the expanded soundtrack albums for Extreme Prejudice and Tombstone respectively). He also wrote music for Disney World and Disneyland rides.

Goldsmith died on July 21, 2004 - shortly before the death of another legendary composer, Elmer Bernsteinnote .

Check out his loaded page of awesome music.

Goldsmith wrote music for these TV Shows and TV movies, among others:

Films Include:

Fans and other interested parties are directed to the podcast The Goldsmith Odyssey.

Tropes associated with his works include:


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