Max Steiner (1888-1971) was an Austrian born composer, arranger, and conductor whose contributions to film scoring made him one of the most well known and respected composers of the craft. He was primarily active during what is now known as the golden era of film, and is perhaps best known for his work in the films King Kong, Casablanca, and Gone With The Wind. Interestingly enough, he was trained by Johannes Brahms, Robert Fuchs, and Gustav Mahler, and his godfather was Richard Strauss. If that isn’t an impressive musical lineage I’m not sure what is! Steiner’s work was so influential that “Max” was a nickname given to John Williams by Steven Spielberg. One story, in regards to the scoring of Schindler’s List recalls Williams saying to Spielberg “you need a better composer than I am for this” with Steven responding “I know, but they are all dead.” This quote undeniably refers to the work (and absence) of Max Steiner.
The brass piece we are going to look at today is yet another arrangement, this time from Steiner’s score to Gone With The Wind. Well, unfortunately we aren’t going to be able to listen or look, because I wasn’t able to find a recording, but regardless I wanted to mention the arrangement done by Jeff Sultanof for brass quintet. And mostly I wanted to have a post about Steiner, since in the world of film music, he is one of, if not the, king.
For something, here is a tiny clip of the Warner Bros. fanfare that Steiner wrote. As you can hear, there are brass being used. Close enough?