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Sad neglect for film composers

March 01, 2009

Jon Burlingame's piece on composers of the Golden Hollywood era was right on ["Festival Has Scores to Settle," Feb. 22], even though it failed to mention one of the greats of the era to be celebrated -- David Raksin, whose early influence (thanks to the aid of music illiterate Chaplin) would be hard to overstate.

What the article dealt with is only a part of the larger problem that endures in the U.S. today, insofar as serious music by gifted composers is concerned. Those of filmdom's era represented by the Korngolds and Rozsas and Raksins of our past are pitifully ignored, both by the media (including Calendar) and by "classical music radio" (including KUSC). Indeed, the scene is as inexplicable as it is sad for those of us who know anything about our country's past century of talents.

The Los Angeles Times and the media in general totally ignore those of the generation that has just faded, the brightest musical stars of the 20th century firmament. You have forgotten the likes of Randall Thompson. Walter Piston, William Schuman, Henry Cowell and Quincy Porter. Even Aaron Copland is played rarely, and then one is treated to one of his pop "hits," like "Rodeo" or "Appalachian Spring."

The showbiz passion that has seduced our culture keeps things like that from the headlines.

After all, there's barely enough room for everything current about Paris Hilton.

William Thomson


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