Jerry Goldsmith, 70th birthday concert

Jerry Goldsmith seems to have a fondness for Scotland having visited on a number of occasions. He has also recorded albums with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and I am particularly pleased that Jerry chose in 1999 to give a series of concerts in Scotland to mark his 70th birthday and the following is a synopsis of the programme and the sprinkling of anecdotes given at the Edinburgh concert. Note that the music itself is reviewed elsewhere so this is just to give you a idea of what to expect at a Jerry Goldsmith concert.

1) Star Trek: Insurrection

"In some concert halls they warn people not to cough, because it distracts the performers. They even have a jar of cough sweets at the door. Isn't that ridiculous! You can cough all you want here. My music is usually drowned out by car chases and the like...."

2) Medley of Motion Picture Themes (including The Sand Pebbles, Chinatown, Air Force One, A Patch of Blue, Poltergeist, Papillon, Basic Instinct, The Wind and the Lion)

"Eight of those themes have something in common. They were all nominated for an Academy Award. They have something else in common. They all failed to win. Last year I had LA Confidential also nominated, but "the ship hit it before it hit that iceberg" referring to Horner's Oscar for The Titanic."

3) LA Confidential

"Planet of the Apes was in some ways a revolutionary film, so I used revolutionary music." Examples illustrated by the players included: Normal sound from the horns illustrated by the Horn theme from the slow movement of Tchaikovsky's 5th. Blowing the horns without the mouthpiece gives a sound like the wind blowing. The Bass Clarinet normal example was from the downward figure punctuating the Sugar Plum Fairy theme by Tchaikovsky. It was made to make squeaks. A percussionist illustrated drumming on a pair of upturned stainless steel mixing bowls (it sounded quite good). Jerry called the players by name, and joked about the percussionist practicing that all day and making an omlette.

4) Planet of the Apes

"The Ghost and the Darkness, did anyone go to see it? Don't all answer at once." Jerry mentions that the film used sampled voices, but the RSNO played without it. (Some African sounding drum rhythms were used.)

5) The Ghost and the Darkness

------- Interval --------

6) First Knight (2 pieces from)

"That was from First Knight." Jerry didn't mention Small Soldiers, but talked about his cameo roles in the Gremlin films, and the part that that must have played in their success. "Gremlins was the biggest earner for Warner Brothers at the time, and they wanted to repeat that success with all the same ingredients." Gremlins - he has a brief non-speaking part in a phone booth. Gremlins 2 - he wears a tuxedo and speaks a line! and illustrates that he still remembers it! "Gremlins 2 wasn't such a big success in America but was elsewhere, showing that the Americans don't appreciate good acting." (The electric guitar was only used for this piece, but couldn't be heard - amplifier problem?)

7) "Tiny Creatures" themes (Small Soldiers and Gremlins)

"TV is a totally different medium from Film. On film you work mostly with the director, but on TV you have umpteen different types of producer and the Network people all wanting to dictate the impact of the music. The purpose of the TV theme is so that when you are in the fridge looking for a snack, you hear it and say 'Oh, there's the Waltons starting.' Maybe one day I'll write something which does the opposite, making people go and stick their heads in the fridge."

8) TV Medley (including The Man from Uncle, Dr Kildare, Room 222, Barnaby Jones, The Waltons, Star Trek Next Generation and Star Trek Voyager)

"The music for Mulan is nominated this year for an Oscar, but I'll be in London recording or doing a concert tour. I'm expecting to get a phone call at 3am to tell me one way or the other." (Some comments were made about preparation for films.)

9) Mulan

"People think Film composing must be a very glamorous life, but I rarely meet the actors, starting work on the film when they move off onto the next. Sean Connery knows me now and calls me Jerry. He should know me by now, I've done several of his films. At an end-of-film party (events which sometimes cost more than the film!) Sean said "I want your hair." If you've seen him in Medicine Man, you'll see that he got his wish." (Sean Connery starred in First Knight and also in The Russia House, and Jerry also scored Medicine Man.)

10) The Russia House

"Patton was another film Oscar nominated but failing to win. That's 16 failures. Directors sometimes have special requests. I remember hearing the story about a film on the French Revolution. The Director called the Composer into his office and said 'You know this film's about the French Revolution? Well I want lots of French Horns!' For Patton the director learned that Patton had Scots ancestry so wanted to hint at this in the music if possible. The second theme on cellos and horns is meant to be Scottish." Jerry points at the cellos during this piece to point out the bit that was supposed to sound Scottish, but it didn't.

11) The Generals (Patton and MacArthur)

The encore was introduced, saying that time was running out after a quick whisper to the Leader. "The Academy said, Jerry I have both an honour and a favour for you. 'Very well, I'll have the favour first.' 'We're asking you to write an introduction for the Oscar ceremony.' 'And what's the favour?' 'Well, you won't get paid.' So they got a very short piece! (This was a John Williamsy Fanfare and Overture kind of thing.)

There seemed to be another score on his stand, and perhaps this was a further encore if time permitted, but it wasn't to be.....

All in all, it's great to see an actual performance of film music, and Goldsmith has a huge repertoire to pick from. It's also good to see him in the flesh and he came across as very relaxed with his introductions and anecdotes. If you get a chance to attend such a concert, take it.