Monthly Archives: April 2013

Jerry Goldsmith

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Today we take another slight departure from our course, or should I say our flight plan, to talk about the music of Jerry Goldsmith. Goldsmith (1929-2004) is one of the most well known and prolific American composers for film and television. His numerous nominations and awards span over a career of 200+ film scores. One of his main mentors was Miklos Rozsa, who I will talk about in the next blog post. While Goldsmith didn’t write any concert music for brass alone (it is noted in his biography that Goldsmith originally wanted to pursue just concert composition, but it did not allow him as much of a musical outlet as he wanted) much of his music for film has been arranged and transcribed for ensembles such as brass band. The particular arrangement we will look at today is from the score of Air Force One.

Arranged by Rodney Newton, this medley of themes from the film does a fairly good job at capturing the original intent. Goldsmith’s sweeping string and horn lines translate easily into brass, although in my opinion, the tenor horn is not a true substitute for the sound of the (French) horn. The inclusion of percussion is a must, as the middle section of the piece is highly punctuated and dependent on the percussion in the original. Again, Goldsmith’s brass writing is easily transferred to a brass band setting. Perhaps the weakest part is the slow section starting at rehearsal H. Here, the brass band simply cannot capture the ease and ethereal quality of sustain by other winds and strings.

 Here is a video performance by the Celebration Brass:

Elliot Goldenthal

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Elliot Goldenthal (b. 1954) is an American composer of film, concert, and theater works. In 2002 he won the Academy Award for his original score to the movie Frida. Goldenthal was a student of both Aaron Copland and John Corigliano, both of whom we’ve explored in previous posts. Besides his film scores, of which there are over 25, Goldenthal is perhaps best known for his work in musicals and ballets. For brass ensemble, he wrote the following:

 Brass Quintet No. 1

 Brass Quintet No. 2

Brass Quintet No. 2 is comprised of three movements entitled “Quinque,” “Cortege,” and “Rondo Burlesque,” respectively.  Here is a sample:

Goldenthal Quintet 2 mvm 3 excerpt

Bramwell Tovey

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From someone extremely well known to me, we turn now to someone whom I had never heard of… Bramwell Tovey! Tovey (b. 1953) is a Grammy and Juno award winning Canadian composer whose commissions include works for the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Toronto Symphony, and the Canadian Brass. He is the director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. He is also a film composer, writing the original score to the Canadian movie Eighteen. Tovey was also Artistic Director of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, and has worked closely with the Fodens Brass Band. His concert work for brass includes the following:

 Pictures in the Smoke – for brass band

 Coventry Variations – for brass

 Santa Barbara Sonata – for brass quintet

 The Bardfield Ayre – for brass band

 Manhattan Music – for brass quintet and orchestra

 Echoes of Jericho – for brass and percussion

 Requiem for a Charred Skull – for choir and brass band

 The Night to Sing – for brass band

 Nine Daies Wonder – for brass band and violin

 Urban Cabaret – for solo trombone, brass, and percussion

Santa Barbara Sonata was written in 2004 for the Canadian Brass and is “a sonata in four movements, each associated with an aspect of Santa Barbara, California in the summer months (when the Music Academy of the West is in session). Movements include: Cakewalk on a Tightrope, Preacher on the Pier, Magic Horn Tango and State Street Stomp.”

Here is a clip of the first movement:

Santa Barbara mvm1 excerpt

John Corigliano

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John Corigliano (b. 1938) is both a Pulitzer Prize winner for his Symphony No. 2 as well as an Academy Award winner for his score to The Red Violin. Another of his most famous works is his Symphony No. 1, a stunningly tragic work influenced by the AIDS crisis. Corigliano also wrote music for the films Altered States and Revolution. As a whole, Corigliano is one of the most influential recent composers and composition teachers in the country.  For brass instruments alone, Corigliano has written the following:

 Antiphon – for 8 or 10 brass

 Fanfares to Music – for on- and off-stage brass

 Two Works for Antiphonal Brass – for brass ensemble

 Utah Fanfare – for brass and percussion