Goldsmith, Jerry

views updated May 08 2018

Jerry Goldsmith

Film composer

For the Record

Selected discography


A composer for more than 40 years, Jerry Goldsmiths work includes hundreds of scores for film and television. Incredibly versatile and acclaimed by his peers, critics, and audiences alike, he is as popular as he is prolific. During the 1960s, when he was most active, he composed the scores for an average of six films every year. His work includes scores for television shows like The Twilight Zone, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Gunsmoke, and many others. His film work in the 1960s included The Illustrated Man, The Planet of the Apes, and The Agony and the Ecstasy; in the 1970s, Star Trek, Alien, Capricorn One, Coma, and The Boys from Brazil; in the 1980s, Gremlins, Poltergeist, and the Rambo movies; in the 1990s, The Medicine Man, Basic Instinct, Total Recall, and many others. His work in the 2000s has included Star Trek X: Nemesis, Sum of All Fears, and The Last Castle. Goldsmith himself summed up the ubiquity of his music in the Daily Yomiuri of Tokyo, Japan, when he said A few years ago the BBC [British Broadcasting Corporation] did a survey and they said that every minute of every day, a piece of my music is being played somewhere in the world. Thats good for my ego.

Goldsmith, who had decided he wanted to become a composer by the time he was 14 years old, studied music at the University of Southern California. It was Alex Norths score to A Streetcar Named Desire that first sparked his interest in the field. He chose to move into radio, film, and television partly for pragmatic reasons. I was accustomed, he told the Herald of Glasgow, Scotland, to certain middle-class comforts which I didnt want to give up for the sake of art. I loved drama, and I loved movies. What a way, it seemed to me, to write music and make a living. His first job out of college was as a clerk and typist at the offices of CBS television, and by 1950, he had worked his way into the music department. His first assignments were for radio programs such as Romance and CBS Radio Workshop. The studios fast-paced schedule had Goldsmith composing a score a week for these shows, which were broadcast live each week.

Graduating to composing for television at CBS in 1955, Goldsmith began with one-hour shows that also were broadcast live once a week. We had limited resources, a tiny orchestra, and, doing it live, you never knew what was going to happen next, he told the Herald. It was an incredible learning experience. Among his assignments during this period was composing music for Playhouse 90, a series of 90-minute television dramas that were broadcast live, and for numerous television series including Gunsmoke, Perry Mason, Have Gun, Will Travel, The Twilight Zone, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and others. It was The Twilight Zone that Goldsmith remembered most fondly in later years for its innovative approach to television in general, and to music in particular. As he told the Herald, I was allowed total freedom of imagination. The wilder it was the better. They said I could try anything, any experiment, just to see if the instruments could do it, just to

For the Record

Born Jerrald Goldsmith on February 10, 1929, in Los Angeles, CA; married to Carol Goldsmith; six children, including film and TV composer Joel Goldsmith. Education: Attended the University of Southern Californias music school, late 1940s.

Landed first composing job at CBS, where he wrote music for radio dramas, 1950; began composing for CBS television shows, 1955; left CBS to work as a movie composer, 1960; wrote his first major motion picture soundtrack for Lonely Are the Brave, 1962; worked into the 2000s composing music for films.

Awards: Academy Award, Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Best Original Score for The Omen, 1977; Emmy Award, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for The Red Pony Bell System Family Theatre, 1973; Emmy Award, Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Special for QB VII ABC Movie Special, Parts 1 & 2, 1975; Emmy Award, Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Special for Babe 1976; Emmy Award, Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Limited Series for Masada, Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Main Title Theme Music for Star Trek: Voyager, 1995.

Addresses: Record company Varese Sarabande Records, 11846 Ventura Blvd., Suite 130, Studio City, CA 91604, phone: (800) 827-3734, fax: (818) 753-7596, website: Management Blue Focus Management, 15233 Ventura Blvd., Suite 200, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403.

see what different combinations of sounds would be like.

Goldsmith left CBS in 1960 to work at Revue Studios, where he composed music for the studios thrillers. At the studio he came under the wing of legendary film composer Alfred Newman, one of the most highly regarded film composers in Hollywood history. Newman hired Goldsmith to score his first major motion picture, Lonely are the Brave, released in 1962. Goldsmith built his career through the 1960s, quickly becoming one of Hollywoods busiest composers.

Goldsmith enjoys the variety the work offers him. His style is not instantly recognizable, mostly due to the fact that he works in so many genres. He also has a penchant for experimentation, best heard in Planet of the Apes. The variety of his work gives him the opportunity, he told the Herald, to compose for everything from a comedy to a western to a psychological drama to a romance. Thats why I enjoy doing films so much: to be able to go from The Boys from Brazil, where I was writing ersatz Wagnerand pretty damned pleased I was with itto some silly comedy and then some jazz, and then to The Omen, where I got the idea of using voices, took the Mass, and switched it around so it worships the devil instead of Christ. Goldsmiths score for The Omen was so successful and spot-on that it set the standard for the scores to future films of the same sort. Goldsmith himself reused some of the ideas from The Omens score in the sequels to the film, The Omen II and The Final Conflict.

Asked by the Washington Post to describe the process by which he composes a film score, Goldsmith said that he waits until a movie is as complete as possible before sitting down to write the music. I cant get ideas from a script, he said. One can look at a piece of music and envision the sound, or look at a painting and get the idea, or even read a play and imagine; but a script is just a blueprint and what comes on the screen is so totally different that you cant really conceive of it until you see it. He also waits n order to make the score as perfectly tied to the action on the screen as possible. We write to the 10th of a second; a foot changes and it throws off the music.

Although he is perhaps best known for his work on science fiction films, that is not Goldsmiths favorite genre. As he told Japans Daily Yomiuri, I like to write music about people and relationships, not about machines and weird things. Some of my favorites would be movies like Rudy, Russia House or Patton. But Hollywood has this way of typecasting you and thats how Ive been typecast. Im associated with big, extravagant films.

Goldsmith has been called on numerous times to rescore films that, at the last second, didnt meet the directors expectations. He wrote the score for Air Force One in only four and a half weeks, after the score written by the original composer, Randy Newman, was rejected. He pulled off an even more remarkable feat when he wrote the impressive score for Chinatown in only ten days. That score is considered by many to be one of his finest.

Nominated for numerous Academy Awards, Goldsmith had won only one by 2002for his score of The Omen, released in 1976. In addition to scoring films and television shows, Goldsmith also tours, conducting his music for orchestras around the world, including the San Diego Symphony and the Royal Philharmonic of Britain. He sometimes collaborates on projects with his son, Joel Goldsmith, who is also a film and television composer. Their collaborations include Star Trek: First Contact and Runaway. In addition, Goldsmith teaches a graduate course in music composition at the University of Southern California, where he studied the same subject years before.

Selected discography

Film soundtracks

City of Fear, Best, 1959.

Studs Lonigan, Tsunami, 1960.

Freud, Tsunami, 1962.

Lonely are the Brave, Best, 1962.

Lillies of the Field, PEG/Tsunami, 1963.

The Prize, MGM, 1963.

The Stripper, FSM, 1963.

Rio Conchos, Intrada/FSM, 1964.

Agony & The Ecstacy, Intrada, 1965.

A Patch of Blue, Intrada, 1965.

In Harms Way, SLC/lntrada, 1965.

Morituri, FSM, 1965.

Von Ryans Express, Tsunami, 1965.

The Blue Max, Sony/Varese, 1966.

Our Man Flint, Varese, 1966.

Sandpebbles, Varese, 1966.

Stagecoach, FSM/Mainstream, 1966.

Trouble with Angels, Mainstream, 1966.

Flim Flam Man, FSM, 1967.

Hour of the Gun, Intrada, 1967.

In Like Flint, Varese, 1967.

Bandolero!, Intrada, 1968.

Planet of the Apes, Varese, 1968.

Sebastian, DOT, 1968.

The Illustrated Man, FSM, 1969.

Justine, Tsunami, 1969.

100 Rifles, FSM, 1969.

The Ballad of Cable Hogue, Varese, 1970.

Brotherhood of the Bell, FSM, 1970.

Patton, FSM/Varese, 1970.

Rio Lobo, Prometheus, 1970.

Tora, Tora, Tora, Club, 1970.

The Travelling Executioner, FSM, 1970.

Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Varese, 1971.

The Last Run, CHP3, 1971.

Mephisto Waltz, Varese, 1971.

Wild Rovers, CHP3/Memoir, 1971.

The Other, Varese, 1972.

Ace Eli Roger of the Skies, FSM, 1973.

Papillon, Silva, 1973.

Chinatown, Varese, 1974.

QBVII, Intrada, 1974.

A Girl Named Sooner, FSM, 1975.

Breakout, Prometheus, 1975.

Ransom, Silva, 1975.

Take a Hard Ride, FSM, 1975.

The Wind & The Lion, Intrada, 1975.

Breakheart Pass, Pony Tail, 1976.

Logans Run, FSM/CHP3, 1976.

The Omen, Varese, 1976.

Cassandra Crossing, RCA, 1977.

MacArthur, Varese, 1977.

Islands in the Stream, Intrada, 1977.

HighVelocity, Prometheus, 1977.

Twilights Last Gleaming, Silva, 1977.

The Boys from Brazil, Varese, 1978.

Coma, Bay/CHP3, 1978.

Capricorn One, Crescendo, 1978.

Damien Omen II, Varese, 1978.

The Swarm, Premetheus, 1978.

Alien, Silva, 1979.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Sony, 1979.

Cabo Blanco, Prometheus, 1980.

The Final Conflict: Omen III, Varese, 1981.

Inchon, Intrada, 1981.

Night Crossing, Club, 1981.

Outland, Crescendo, 1981.

Raggedy Man, Varese, 1981.

First Blood, Intrada/Varese, 1982.

The Challenge, Prometheus, 1982.

Poltergeist, Turner, 1982.

Secret of Nimh, Varese, 1982.

Psycho II, Varese, 1983.

Twilight Zone: The Movie, Warner Bros., 1983.

Under Fire, Warner Bros., 1983.

Gremlins, Geffen, 1984.

Lonely Guy, MCA, 1984.

Supergirl, Silva, 1984.

Explorers, Varese, 1985.

King Solomons Mines, Intrada/Milan, 1985.

Rambo: First Blood, Silva, 1985.

Runaway, Varese, 1985.

Hoosiers, Polydor, 1986.

Legend, Silva, 1986.

Link, Varese, 1986.

Poltergeist II: The Other Side, Intrada/Varese, 1986.

Extreme Prejudice, Intrada/Silva, 1987.

Innerspace, Geffen, 1987.

Lionheart, Varese, 1987.

Rent a Cop, Intrada, 1987.

Burbs, Varese, 1988.

Rambo III, Intrada, 1988.

Leviathan, Varese, 1989.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Epic, 1989.

Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Varese, 1990.

Not Without My Daughter, Intrada, 1990.

The Russia House, MCA, 1990.

Total Recall, Varese, 1990.

Love Field, Varese, 1991.

Mom & Dad Save the World, Varese, 1991.

Sleeping with the Enemy, Columbia, 1991.

Basic Instinct, Varese, 1992.

Forever Young, Big Screen, 1992.

Medicine Man, Varese, 1992.

Mr. Baseball, Screen, 1992.

Dennis the Menace, Big Screen, 1993.

Mr. Baseball, Varese, 1992.

Malice, Varese, 1993.

Matinee, Varese, 1993.

Rudy, Varese, 1993.

Six Degrees of Seperation, Elektra, 1993.

Bad Girls, Fox, 1994.

Angie, Varese, 1994.

The River Wild, RCA, 1994.

The Shadow, Arista, 1994.

Congo, Epic, 1995.

Fierce Creatures, Varese, 1995.

First Knight, Epic, 1995.

Powder, Hollywood, 1995.

Executive Decision, Varese, 1996.

City Hall, Varese, 1996.

Chain Reaction, Varese, 1996.

The Ghost & the Darkness, Hollywood, 1996.

Star Trek: First Contact, Crescendo, 1996.

Air Force One, Varese, 1997.

The Edge, RCA, 1997.

LA Confidential, Varese, 1997.

Deep Rising, Hollywood, 1998.

Mulan, Disney Records, 1998.

Small Soldiers, Varese, 1998.

Star Trek Insurrection, Crescendo, 1998.

The Haunting, Varese, 1998.

The Mummy, Decca, 1999.

The 13th Warrior, Varese, 1999.

Hollow Man, Varese, 2000.

Along Came a Spider, Varese, 2001.

The Last Castle, Decca, 2001.

Sum of All Fears, Elektra, 2002.

Star Trek X: Nemesis, Varese, 2002.

Television movie soundtracks

Desperate Mission, Silva, 1969.

Contract on Cherry Street, Prometheus, 1977.

Masada, Varese, 1980.



Daily Yomiuri (Tokyo, Japan), October 26, 2000, p. 9.

Entertainment Weekly, August 8, 1997.

Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), February 21, 1997, p. 21; September 11, 1998, p. 21.

Washington Post, April 12, 1983, p. D7.


Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, (September 24, 2002).

Alfred Newman, All Music Guide, (September 23, 2002).

Biography for Jerry Goldsmith, Internet Movie Database,,+Jerry (September 23, 2002).

Biography for Joel Goldsmith, Internet Movie Database,,+Joel (September 24, 2002).

Jerry Goldsmith, All Music Guide, (September 2, 2002).

Jerry Goldsmith Online, (January 2, 2002).

Michael Belfiore

Goldsmith, Jerry

views updated May 21 2018


Composer. Nationality: American. Born: Jerrald Goldsmith in Los Angeles, California, 1929. Education: Attended Dorsey High School; studied piano with Jakob Gimpel at Los Angeles City College, and film music under Miklos Rozsa at University of California, Los Angeles. Family: Son: the composer Joel Goldsmith. Career: 1952—joined CBS as clerk, then radio composer; 1955—composer for TV; composer of theme music and background music for many TV series, and music for TV films and mini-series (QB VII, 1974, Masada, 1981); 1957—first score for film, Black Patch; also composer of orchestra and choral works, and conductor. Awards: Academy Award, for The Omen, 1976. Agent: ICM, 8899 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048, U.S.A.

Films as Composer:


Black Patch (Miner)


City of Fear (Lerner)


Face of a Fugitive (Wendkos)


Studs Lonigan (Lerner)


Lonely Are the Brave (Miller); The Spiral Road (Mulligan); Freud (Freud: The Secret Passion) (Huston); A Gathering of Eagles (Delbert Mann)


The List of Adrian Messenger (Huston); The Stripper (Woman of Summer) (Schaffner); The Prize (Robson); Lilies of the Field (Nelson); Take Her, She's Mine (Koster); Seven Days in May (Frankenheimer); Fate Is the Hunter (Nelson); Rio Conchos (Douglas)


The Satan Bug (J. Sturges); In Harm's Way (Preminger); Von Ryan's Express (Robson); A Patch of Blue (Green); Morituri (The Saboteur Code Name "Morituri") (Wicki); The Agony and the Ecstasy (Reed) (prologue only, d by Labella); Our Man Flint (Daniel Mann)


The Trouble with Angels (Lupino); Stagecoach (Douglas); The Blue Max (Guillermin); Seconds (Frankenheimer); The Sand Pebbles (Wise); Warning Shot (Kulik)


In Like Flint (Douglas); Hour of the Gun (J. Sturges); The Flim-Flam Man (One Born Every Minute) (Kershner); Sebastian (Greene); Planet of the Apes (Schaffner)


The Detective (Douglas); Bandolero! (McLaglen); 100 Rifles (Gries); The Illustrated Man (Smight)


The Most Dangerous Man in the World (The Chairman) (Lee Thompson); Justine (Cukor); Patton (Patton: Lust for Glory) (Schaffner)


The Ballad of Cable Hogue (Peckinpah); The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart (Horn) (song); Tora! Tora! Tora! (Fleischer, Masuda, and Fukasaku); The Traveling Executioner (Smight); Rio Lobo (Hawks); The Mephisto Waltz (Wendkos); The Brotherhood of the Bell (Wendkos)


Escape from the Planet of the Apes (Taylor); Wild Rovers (Edwards); The Last Run (Fleischer); A Step Out of Line (McEveety); The Homecoming (Cook); Do Not Fold, Spindle, or Mutilate (Post); The Cable Car Murder (Thorpe)


The Culpepper Cattle Company (Richards) (co); The Other (Mulligan); Shamus (Kulik); Crawlspace (Newland); Pursuit (Crichton); The Man (Sargent)


The Red Pony (Totten); Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies (Erman); One Little Indian (McEveety); The Don Is Dead (Fleischer); Papillon (Schaffner); The Police Story (The Stake-Out) (Graham); Hawkins on Murder (Taylor)


Chinatown (Polanski); Spys (Kershner) (U.S. version only); Ransom (The Terrorists) (Wrede); The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (Lee Thompson); Indict and Convict (Sagal); Winter Kill (Taylor); A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Hardy)


Breakout (Gries); The Wind and the Lion (Milius); Take a Hard Ride (Margheriti); Babe (Kulik); Breakheart Pass (Gries); A Girl Named Sooner (Delbert Mann)


The Omen (Donner); Logan's Run (Anderson); High Velocity (R. Kramer); The Cassandra Crossing (Cosmatos); Islands in the Stream (Schaffner)


Twilight's Last Gleaming (Aldrich); Coma (Crichton); MacArthur (Sargent); Damnation Alley (Smight); Capricorn One (Hyams); Contract on Cherry Street (Graham)


Damien—Omen II (Taylor); The Swarm (I. Allen); The Boys from Brazil (Schaffner); Magic (Attenborough); The First Great Train Robbery (The Great Train Robbery) (Crichton)


Alien (Scott); Players (Harvey); Cabo Blanco (Lee Thompson); Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Wise)


Raggedy Man (Fisk); Inchon (Young)


Night Crossing (Delbert Mann); Poltergeist (Hooper); The Challenge (Frankenheimer); The House on Sorority Row (House of Evil) (Rosman) (co)


Psycho II (Franklin); Twilight Zone—The Movie (Landis and others); The Salamander (Zinner); Under Fire (Spottiswoode)


Supergirl (Szwarc); Gremlins (Dante); Runaway (Crichton); Baby—Secret of the Lost Legend (Norton); The Lonely Guy (Hiller)


King Solomon's Mines (Lee Thompson); Legend (Scott); Rambo: First Blood, Part II (Cosmatos)


Hoosiers (Anspaugh); Link (Franklin); Explorers (Dante); Poltergeist II (Gibson)


Extreme Prejudice (Hill); Innerspace (Dante); Lionheart (Schaffner); Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold (Nelson and Arnold)


Criminal Law (Campbell); Rambo III (MacDonald); Rent-a-Cop (London)


The Burbs (Dante); Leviathan (Cosmatos); Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (Shatner); Warlock (Miner)


The Russia House (Schepisi); Gremlins 2: The New Batch (Dante); Total Recall (Verhoeven)


Not without My Daughter (Gilbert); Sleeping with the Enemy (Ruben)


Basic Instinct (Verhoeven); Forever Young (Miner); Love Field (Kaplan); Medicine Man (McTiernan); Mom and Dad Save the World (Beeman); Mr. Baseball (Schepisi)


Dennis the Menace (Castle); Malice (H. Becker); Matinee (Dante); Rudy (Anspaugh); Six Degrees of Separation (Schepisi); The Vanishing (Sluizer)


The River Wild (Hanson); IQ (Schepisi); Gunmen (Sarafian); Angie (Coolidge); Bad Girls (Kaplan); Star Trek: The Next Generation—All Good Things (Kolbe—series for TV); The Shadow (Mulcahy)


Star Trek: Voyager—Caretaker (Kolbe—series for TV); Star Trek: Voyager (series for TV) (main title theme); Legend (Balaban and Bole—series for TV); Congo (Marshall); First Knight (Zucker); Powder (Salva)


City Hall (Becker); Executive Decision (Critical Decision) (Baird); Chain Reaction (Davis); The Ghost and the Darkness (Hopkins); Star Trek: First Contact (Frakes)


Fierce Creatures (Schepisi and Young); L.A. Confidential (Hanson); Air Force One (Petersen); The Edge (Tamahori); Alien: Resurrection (Jeunet)


Deep Rising (Sommers); U.S. Marshals (Baird); Mulan (Bancroft and Cook—anim); Small Soldiers (Dante); Star Trek: Insurrection (Frakes)


The Mummy (Sommers); The 13th Warrior (McTiernan); The Haunting (de Bont)


The Kid (Turteltaub); The Hollow Man (Verhoeven)

Film as Music Director:


Joaquin Murieta (Bellamy)


By GOLDSMITH: articles—

In Knowing the Score, by Irwin Bazelon, New York, 1975.

Cinema TV Today, 5 July 1975.

Films Illustrated (London), February 1976.

Interview with Elmer Bernstein, in Film Music Notebook (Calabasas, California), vol. 3, no. 1, 1977.

In Film Score, edited by Tony Thomas, South Brunswick, New Jersey, 1979.

Millimeter (New York), April 1979.

Films and Filming (London), May and June 1979.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), Spring 1981.

Cinefantastique (New York), September/October 1982.

New Zealand Film Music Bulletin (Invercargill), August 1985.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), vol. 6, no. 23, September 1987.

Interview with Vincent Jacquet-Françillon, in Cue Sheet (Hollywood), vol. 10, no. 3–4, 1993–1994.

On GOLDSMITH: articles—

Godfrey, Lionel, "The Music Makers: Elmer Bernstein and Jerry Goldsmith," in Films and Filming (London), July 1966.

Focus on Film (London), May/August 1970.

Films in Review (New York), January 1972.

Thomas, Tony, in Music for the Movies, South Brunswick, New Jersey, 1973.

Ecran (Paris), September 1975.

Caps, John, in Film Music Notebook (Calabasas, California), vol. 2, no. 1, 1976.

Focus on Film (London), Summer/Autumn 1976.

Films in Review (New York), October 1976.

Maffet, James D., in Film Music Notebook (Calabasas, California), vol. 3, no. 1, 1977.

Cinema Papers (Melbourne), January 1977.

Films in Review (New York), November 1978.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), April 1979.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), October 1979.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), January 1980.

Films in Review (New York), March 1980.

Score (Lelystad, Netherlands), March 1981.

Fistful of Soundtracks (London), November 1981.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), December 1981.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), June 1982.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), December 1983.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), vol. 4, no. 16, December 1985.

Séquences (Montreal), July 1986.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), vol. 7, no. 28, December 1988.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), vol. 11, June 1992.

Sequences, no. 164, May 1993.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), June 1993.

Mancini, Henry, "Presentation of the SPFM Career Achievement Award to Jerry Goldsmith," in Cue Sheet (Hollywood), vol. 10, no. 3–4, 1993–1994.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), June 1997.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), September 1997.

Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), December 1997.

Crowdus, Gregory, "Film Music Masters: Jerry Goldsmith," in Cineaste (New York), 1996.

Dutka, Elaine, "Cue the Composer: The Key to Jerry Goldsmith's Long and Prolific Career as a Composer of Film Music? 'I'm a Chameleon,' He Says," in The Los Angeles Times, 1 August 1999.

Woodard, Josef, "Goldsmith Hosts Night of Memorable Movie Themes," in The Los Angeles Times, 9 August 1999.

* * *

The career of Jerry Goldsmith is difficult to classify, either in cinematic or musical terms. One of the most prolific contemporary film composers, Goldsmith has provided scores for works in all genres and drawn on a wide range of musical styles, from the Latin chants provided in The Omen to the atonal approach of Freud and Twilight's Last Gleaming to the Copland-ish Lonely Are the Brave and the avant-garde effects created for Planet of the Apes and Alien. Goldsmith has demonstrated an ability to find the correct sound for each film but his employment of a vast number of musical styles has been more often innovative rather than merely imitative.

As one of a new generation of composers that began to emerge in the 1950s, Goldsmith not surprisingly displayed in his early work for film and television a familiarity with jazz and other contemporary idioms. Nevertheless, he has also demonstrated that he is equally comfortable with a more traditional symphonic approach, and thus he serves as a vital link between the film scoring techniques of the past and the practices of his peers. Unlike composers who have emphasized either discipline, Goldsmith, similar to Bernard Herrmann, has preferred to let the film dictate the musical approach rather than imposing a specific musical style onto the film, and this concern with finding the right approach to complement the image makes him in some respects more indicative of what a film composer should be than many of his colleagues who have shown through their scores the development of a recognizable style regardless of the subject matter.

In addition to the employment of a number of different styles, Goldsmith has also relied on selective instrumentation and use of the score in finding the appropriate sound for a given film. The score for Seconds played off piano against organ to match both the futuristic and lyrically nostalgic aspects of the story, while a specific ensemble was devised for Chinatown which employed several pianos and a solo trumpet. Goldsmith was not the original choice to score Chinatown. He was called in at the last minute to compose a new score in record time when the first composer's score was rejected. Goldsmith's score is so perfectly suited to the film's neo-noir mood, it is difficult to imagine the film scored any other way.

For Planet of the Apes Goldsmith chose to avoid the tendency in the science-fiction subjects toward electronic scoring by creating sound effects through avant-garde employment of a conventional orchestra augmented by percussion effects and devices such as the use of mixing bowls, and the result is an other-worldly sound reminiscent in places of the work of composers such as Bartok. Goldsmith has also been selective about where music is employed in films, providing a deliberately sparse (and consequently more effective) score for Patton and choosing not to provide music in Coma until halfway into the film.

The range of Goldsmith's work can be seen even in his identification with a single filmmaker such as Franklin J. Schaffner. The composer has provided a diversity of musical styles to match Schaffner's diverse number of subjects, from the aforementioned Planet of the Apes and the martial Patton score to the more lyrical Islands in the Stream and Papillon, the Viennese waltz for The Boys from Brazil to the elegant with a touch of strange Lionheart, Schaffner's ill-fated last film which was barely released. Yet, despite this variety many of Goldsmith's works contain trademark devices such as an employment of harsh glissandos during suspense scenes and driving passages founded on an abruptly syncopated style which are balanced off against melodic romantic themes. Although the latter tend at times, as in Coma, toward the maudlin. The latter themes are often recapitulated at the end of the film and many of the scores show a similarity of construction in this closing music with an abrupt punctuation of a few notes serving as the lead-in to the final swelling statement of the main thematic line.

While Goldsmith's early work was often for war films or contemporary espionage dramas, his recent output has often been for science-fiction subjects, the most popular contemporary genre. For many of these he has avoided repeating the approach of the Apes score and has instead sought out different but equally unique approaches, such as the use of horns to create a sense of isolation in Alien. Yet his prolific output has at times resulted in a sameness of approach and it is possible to detect repetition even in works that are seemingly unrelated. For example, a theme in The Great Train Robbery sounds like a modification and reorchestration of the waltz theme in The Boys from Brazil adapted to a new musical idiom. Nevertheless, most of Goldsmith's work reflects his dedication to the blending of sound and image and demonstrates the ability of film music to employ a variety of traditional approaches and even create some new ones.

Although he turned 70 in 1999, Jerry Goldsmith showed no signs of slowing down as the twenty-first century dawned. He scored two films (The Kid and The Hollow Man) scheduled for release in 2000, and then contracted for another (The Shipping News) due out in 2001.

In celebration of the composer's seventieth birthday, the Los Angeles Philharmonic performed an entire program devoted to his film scores. The performance drew a packed house to the Hollywood Bowl, possibly because of the evening's guest conductor — Jerry Goldsmith.

—Richard R. Ness, updated by John McCarty, further updated by Justin Gustainis

Goldsmith, Jerry

views updated May 11 2018


Born: Los Angeles, California, 10 February 1929

Genre: Soundtrack

Jerry Goldsmith is one of the few remaining exemplars of the old school of movie music composition. He studied piano, composition, theory, and counterpoint seriously as an early adolescent and attended film composition classes held by Miklos Rozsa at the University of Southern California. He began his professional life as a clerk typist in the music department at CBS in 1950, writing one score each week for live performance and immediate transmission on radio shows, including Romance and CBS Radio Workshop.

Goldsmith switched to television and composed the unforgettable theme of Rod Serling's innovative series The Twilight Zone and for Gunsmoke, Perry Mason, and Have Gun Will Travel. Goldsmith left CBS in 1960 to work at a smaller studio and drew the attention of the famed film composer Alfred Newman, who hired him to score Lonely Are the Brave (1963). This was not Goldsmith's first major studio filmthat distinction belongs to The Black Patch (1957)but along with the score for John Huston's Freud (1962), his work on Lonely Are the Brave was his career breakthrough.

Since then Goldsmith has been a first-call composer for producers and directors interested in professionalism and innovation. He pioneered unconventional treatments of conventional instruments, such as horns blown without mouthpieces or fingered without being blown. He was also an early adopter of electronic sound sources, using them extensively on The Omen (1976), his one Academy Awardwinning soundtrack. Goldsmith's subsequent scores, including his Academy Awardnominated works for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Under Fire, Hoosiers, and Poltergeist, have made extensive use of synthesizers as a sound source.

Goldsmith's first Academy Award nomination was for his score to The Sand Pebbles (1965), a military epic set in China, and his name is associated with an impressive number of films that feature military action and/or travel in outer space, including A Gathering of Eagles (1963), Seven Days in May (1964), Von Ryan's Express (1965), In Harm's Way (1965), Morituri (1965), The Blue Max (1966), Planet of the Apes (1968), Tora, Tora, Tora (1970), Patton (1970), The Wind and the Lion (1975), Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977), MacArthur (1977), Damnation Alley (1977), Capricorn One (1978), The Final Conflict (1981), Super-girl (1984), Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), Lionheart (1987), Extreme Prejudice (1987), Rambo III (1988), Total Recall (1990), Executive Decision (1996), Air Force One (1997), the animated Mulan (1998; for which he was again nominated for an Oscar), The Last Castle (2001), and five Star Trek films (he also wrote themes for three series of the television franchise). Goldsmith is known for his bold dramatic strokeshis bold brass fanfares and electronic episodes, his broad, thick harmonies, and his use of seam-lessly shifting and building motifs. He is sometimes credited with developing the movie-music genre Militaria, which evokes aspirations to glory several steps beyond martial marches.

Goldsmith has also been commissioned to write for many science fiction, horror, and fantasy films such as Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990), The Mummy (1999), and The Haunting (1999). He also writes against type, as he did for the police drama L.A. Confidential (1997), the shaggy dog spy story The Russia House (1990), the slapstick Dennis the Menace (1993), the sophisticated treatment of John Guare's stage play Six Degrees of Separation (1993), and the literate Steve Martin comedy Picasso at the Lapin Agile (2003). Goldsmith has an active English fan club with its own website. His most avid fans claim that his sensitivity to details of human interactions has allowed him to elevate laughable situations and bad writing in wretchedly realized films to watchableor at least listenablelevels. (The Swarm [1974] may qualify as one such example.)

Nearly all of Jerry Goldsmith's film scores have been released as commercial recordings, and his work has frequently been re-recorded in expanded editions, but not all of his music remains in print. One compilation of his workproduced in an edition of 500 by the Society for the Preservation of Film Music as a party favor for its annual dinner in 1993is said to have become "one of the most collectable soundtrack-related CDs of all time," fetching bids of more than $500 on the open market.

When he is not composing film soundtracks, Goldsmith tours with a concert ensemble that performs excerpts from his oeuvre. He also teaches a graduate course in music composition at the University of Southern California School of Music.


The Russia House Soundtrack (MCA, 1990); Sleeping with the Enemy (Columbia, 1990); Total Recall (Varese Sarabande, 1990); Basic Instinct (Varese Sarabande, 1992); Dennis the Menace Soundtrack (Big Screen, 1993); Goldsmith Society for the Preservation of Film Music Tribute (1993); Six Degrees of Separation (Nonesuch, 1994); First Knight (Epic Soundtrax, 1995); L.A. Confidential (Restless, 1997); Star Trek VIII: First Contact (GNP Crescendo, 1996); Frontiers (Varese Sarabande, 1997); The Omen: The Essential Jerry Goldsmith Collection (Silva, 1998); Mulan (Disney, 1998); The Mummy (Decca, 1999); The Last Castle (Decca, 2001); The Film Music of Jerry Goldsmith (Telarc, 2001); Star Trek X: Nemesis (Varese Sarabande, 2002).


howard mandel