September 22, 1992
Herbert W. Spencer, a composer and arranger whose credits in Hollywood began when musical pictures were preeminent in the 1930s and continued through Oscar nominations for "Scrooge" and "Jesus Christ Superstar" in the 1970s, has died. David Raksin, the composer of "Laura" among many other popular songs, said Spencer was 87 when he died Friday in Los Angeles. "This is a town full of composers and arrangers," Raksin said Monday. "I'm one of the good ones. Herb was one of the great ones."
May 4, 1986 |
Although few Americans are aware of it, the Library of Congress contains one of the world's great archives of broadcast material: films, radio programs, television shows and sound recordings, much of it dating to the turn of the century. This rather mixed bag of essays deals with various elements of the library's vast holdings.
September 22, 1997 |
If you're going to do a concert of film music, this is the way to do it. Beef up the orchestra and show film clips. Preferably these should be scenes the music was written for, but montage sequences with careful coordination between sight and sound will work well too.
May 16, 2000 |
What's a nice Jewish girl like Judith Krantz doing in a place like Chanel? Buying, bubbeleh . . . and with all those bestsellers to her name, not on sale either. Krantz always wears Chanel . . . probably to bed, for all I know. Krantz's 10 novels have kept her in Coco's logo, starting with her No. 1 bestseller "Scruples," which came out in 1978. Now the Material Girl of the nip-and-tuck set is telling all in her autobiography, "Sex and Shopping: The Confessions of a Nice Jewish Girl."
May 26, 1989 |
The world will little note nor long remember what was said during "An Evening With Pierre Boulez and Frank Zappa" at UCLA. Should it care, the affair--part of the ongoing Festival Boulez--was videotaped. "Let's think of this as an aleatoric entertainment event," Zappa urged the capacity crowd in Schoenberg Hall Auditorium at one point Tuesday. On those terms, as a muted triumph of personality over content, the evening was not without simple--and simplistic--charms. Revelations in the dialogue, moderated by David Raksin, were few. The conversation ranged from Boulez's earnest description of how he tunes individual chords in Webern's orchestral music to Zappa's equally serious explanation of where he found his theory that AIDS is the result of a CIA conspiracy.
March 18, 2000
What a relief! Just as I was beginning to worry about our local affinity for mediocrity in the domain of art, along comes another self-anointed taste-monger from New York (where else?) to give us the word from on high (Saturday Letters, March 11). And as though his credentials are not meager enough, Marshall Izen asks how we can have "remained silent" about Mark Swed's "inept, inadequate, poorly written, musically questionable music criticism." I have worked in music for more than seven decades, and to me anyone who displays the ignorance and arrogance to characterize the critical writing of one of the best in his profession in such terms reveals himself as unworthy of our attention.
August 13, 2004 |
David Raksin, the great film composer who died this week, once told me about traveling to Russia in the 1980s with his avant-garde colleague John Cage and the musicologist, conductor, lexicographer and all-around musical maven Nicolas Slonimsky. When they arrived at the airport in Moscow, there was a problem: Cage didn't have a valid visa.
August 3, 1997
Mark Swed refers to Bernard Herrmann, Alex North and David Raksin as part of "a new generation of talented and sophisticated American composers" discovered, cinematically, "by the '50s and '60s" ("They Shoot, They Score," July 27). While his reference is not wholly inaccurate (North's first principal film score was "A Streetcar Named Desire," released in 1951), Herrmann's major contributions to film was established in the 1940s with such scores as "Citizen Kane," "The Magnificent Ambersons" and "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir."
August 3, 2002 |
David Raksin--the composer of memorable scores for films such as "Laura," "The Bad and the Beautiful" and "Forever Amber," and widely considered the dean of Hollywood movie music--turns 90 Sunday, and he approaches the milestone with a predictable measure of good humor. How does it feel? "One year better than turning 89," he quips.
June 14, 1998 |
For its seventh annual edition, the UC Santa Barbara New Music Festival, which has previously concerned itself with such locales as Mexico, Asia and Britain, turns its attentions closer to home, focusing on the movies and the fine art of film scoring. More to the point, the festival, which includes screenings, concerts and seminars over five days, seeks to emphasize the fact that film scoring is a finer art than it is sometimes given credit for.