(1929 - 2004)
Jerrald King Goldsmith (February 10, 1929 – July 21, 2004) was a famous Jewish-American film score composer from Los Angeles, California. Goldsmith was nominated for eighteen Academy Awards (winning only one, for The Omen), and also won five Emmy Awards.
Goldsmith learned to play the piano at age six. At fourteen, he studied composition, theory and counterpoint with teachers Jacob Gimpel and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. Goldsmith attended the University of Southern California, with teacher Miklós Rózsa, who had written the score for the Ingrid Bergman movie Spellbound. Goldsmith developed an interest in writing scores for movies after being inspired by Rózsa.
In 1950, Goldsmith found work at CBS as a clerk in the network's music department. He soon began writing scores for live radio shows. Goldsmith went on to compose the music for several CBS radio and television shows including The Twilight Zone. He remained at CBS until 1960, after which he moved on to Revue Studios, where he would compose music for television shows such as Dr. Kildare and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
In 1963, Goldsmith was first nominated for an Oscar for Freud. Shortly after, he met Alfred Newman, who was instrumental in Goldsmith's hiring by Universal Studios. Goldsmith later worked on several famous movies such as The Omen, Poltergeist I and II, Alien, Chinatown (for which he wrote a particularly apt and haunting theme), Gremlins, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Supergirl, First Blood, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Hoosiers, The Wind and the Lion, and many others. He was awarded his first and only Oscar for The Omen. He also was awarded an Emmy for his work on QB VII.
Perhaps best known for his wide range of compositional talent, Goldsmith's scores were never as quickly identifiable as those of composers with narrower abilities. He was a lover of innovation and adaptation, using strange instruments such as polyethylene tubes in the score of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, drumming on metal salad bowls in Planet of the Apes, using ethnic music like native tribal chants in Congo, and brilliantly interweaving a traditional Irish folk melody with African rhythms for the theme to The Ghost and the Darkness. His genius for creation delighted his fans and often intimidated his peers. Henry Mancini, another great film music composer, once said to Goldsmith, "Jerry, you scare the hell out of us."
Goldsmith also composed for The Waltons, a fanfare for the Academy Awards presentation show and the score for one of the Disneyland Resort's most popular attractions, Soarin' Over California. In addition, he wrote other short works, on greatly varied subject matter. While his work could be as light-hearted as the main title of Dennis the Menace, it also included the "Kaddish for the Six Million", a choral work honoring the victims of the Holocaust.
But one of Goldsmith's least-heard (and what some movie fans call his greatest) scores was for the 1985 Ridley Scott film Legend. Director Scott had commissioned Goldsmith to write and record an orchestral score for the movie, but was initially heard only in European theatres, while deleted for the domestic release due to studio politics (it has since been restored for DVD release).
Goldsmith's final theatrical score was for the 2003 live action/animated film Looney Tunes: Back In Action. His score for the Richard Donner film Timeline the same year was rejected during the complicated post-production process; however, Goldsmith's score has since been released on CD, not long after the composer's death.
A short list of his most distinguished film scores, most of which were Oscar nominated and all of which exhibit his unerring dramatic instinct, would by general consensus include Freud, A Patch of Blue, The Blue Max, The Sand Pebbles, Planet of the Apes, Patton, Papillon, Chinatown, The Wind and the Lion, The Omen, Logan's Run, Islands in the Stream (acknowledged by Goldsmith as his own personal favorite), The Boys from Brazil, Capricorn One, Alien, The Great Train Robbery, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Lionheart, The Russia House, Total Recall, Medicine Man, Basic Instinct, Rudy, The Edge, and The Mummy.
Goldsmith is often remembered for composing the scores for five Star Trek films — Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek: First Contact (with son Joel), Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek: Nemesis — and the title theme for the Star Trek: Voyager television series. The theme from Star Trek: The Next Generation was adapted from the main title of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
The music from Star Trek: The Motion Picture is considered an expert work of science fiction film scoring. Goldsmith was charged with depicting a universe with his music, and so it is extremely expansive. The main title march is a rousing brassy piece, instantly recognizable, but there are many facets to this score. The opening sequence features a memorable theme for the Klingons with horns sounding off a clarion call backed by castanets. This is a theme that Goldsmith would reprise for the Klingons in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and for Worf in the subsequent scores. There is a love theme for Ilia, which was used for the overture (this and The Walt Disney Company's The Black Hole were the last two feature films to have an overture). The composer also came up with a signature sound for V'Ger with Craig Huxley's Blaster Beam, a metal instrument played by striking it, which is often played against very measured backings. Ilia's theme and the cloud music are the same melody played at different speeds. The same melody can be heard again on the steam organ at high speed at the film's climax. (Incidentally, this score was the last recorded use of the pipe organ at Paramount.)
Alexander Courage, who composed the theme for the original Star Trek television series, was a friend of Goldsmith's, and served as his orchestrator on several scores. He provided arrangements of his theme for Star Trek: The Motion Picture as well. Another of the series' composers, Fred Steiner, provided several cues based on Goldsmith's original material as well.
Goldsmith lived with his wife, former teacher and singer Carol Heather Goldsmith, in Beverly Hills. She composed lyrics for, and sang in the additional track "The Piper Dreams" for the soundtrack of The Omen, as well as a song from the film Caboblanco.
He died after a long struggle with cancer, ending a long and memorable career in film scoring.
His oldest son, Joel Goldsmith, is also a composer and collaborated with his father on the soundtrack for Star Trek: First Contact.