Jump to: navigation, search

Salt Lake Tribune (07/Jul/1991) - Utah Symphony brings in conductor with marquee value to start summer



Utah Symphony brings in conductor with marquee value to start summer

With deft strokes of his pen and a glance at a movieola, film composer Jerry Goldsmith molds emotions in the form of musical notes.

That's why his music was the machismo for Rambo, the tension for "Alien," the pride that lifted "Patton" and the horror of "The Omen."

The 61-year-old composer will view a rough cut of the movie and instead of thinking about what kind of music should go with a particular scene, he's searching for the right feeling.

"If you think about it too much, it's tough to translate the notes to emotions," said Mr. Goldsmith during a telephone interview from his Beverly Hills office. "It's all feeling. I never try to intellectualize it. That gets me into trouble."

But he hasn't had to worry much. Along with names like John Williams and John Barry, Mr. Goldsmith commands the top of the movie-music heap.

It took 30 years, more than 130 film scores and countless television themes to get there, but his reputation is cemented in Hollywood — a composer with clout and marquee value.

Now the versatile composer with the snow-white hair brings a pool of his work to Utah Friday and Saturday when he conducts the Utah Symphony for the second time since early last year.

The concert will range from the pounding military chords of "MacArthur" and "Patton" to the familiar television theme heard every week on "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

Mr. Goldsmith's works are best remembered in the action/adventure genres and in science-fiction films, including "Total Recall," "Planet of the Apes," "Logan's Run," "Poltergeist," and two of the "Star Trek" films.

But creating a mood in an otherworldly climate involves very down-to-earth thoughts.

"You're not really part of the set dressing the way the director is or the production designer," he said. "You're dealing with emotions. No matter where your picture takes place, emotions are emotions. Hate is hate, love is love."

Now the composer wants to see his name on movies that show off more character drama than special effects, and last year's work is an example of his shift to more intimate films.

Last year alone, he composed for the dramas "Not Without My Daughter," "The Russia House," and the upcoming Michelle Pfeiffer drama "Love Field."

"It makes it easier to switch from the action pictures to the dramas because if you do the same thing over and over again, you get bored," he said. And if you ask him for a small list of his favorite scores, he might give you titles like "Chinatown," "Hoosiers" and "Islands in the Stream."

But how do you escape the fame associated with producing a score like "Patton"? When Manuel Noriega surrendered from Panama's Vatican Embassy in 1989, U.S. soldiers blasted that tune through loudspeakers. And the theme was played when one division of U.S. troops was marching into Kuwait earlier this year.

"When I do concerts, there are certain things that people expect to hear. I have to do `Patton,' " he said, laughing.

Ever since Mr. Goldsmith was a teenager, he knew what he wanted to do with his life — he wanted to move, terrify and dazzle audiences the way Alfred Hitchcock's "Spellbound" did for him when he happened into a darkened movie theater more than 45 years ago. But it was the movie's music (along with star Ingrid Bergman) that caught his attention instead of Hitchcock's images, he said.

He studied music theory at the University of Southern California and landed a job at CBS radio.

"I was lucky. I just got the job after I graduated, and I was scoring music for radio plays," he said. "I was one of the lucky few who actually got to do what I said I wanted to do when I grew up."

Now Mr. Goldsmith is the one teaching at USC in the only accredited course in composing music for film.

"I don't think it's something that you can teach," he said. "You learn how to compose, and then the only other way you can do it is by doing it itself. Experience is the only way, and you learn by your own mistakes."

Concerts are Friday at 8 p.m. in Symphony Hall, 123 W. South Temple, and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Deer Valley Resort. Tickets are $12 to $18 for the Symphony Hall performance, and $15 in advance and $17 at the gate at Deer Valley. Some reserved seats are available at the resort for $27.