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Thread: Early film scores

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    Default Early film scores

    What are some of the very first fully orchestrated film scores? I'd be very interested to see a historical perspective of the evolving and diverging styles of film composition and orchestration in the 20th century. My knowledge is lacking here.

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    Senior Member TalkingHead's Avatar
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    Not a subject I know about, CoAG, though a Google search on Franz Schreker might be a first place to start and should prove fruitful to you.

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    Senior Member Prodromides's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ComposerOfAvantGarde View Post
    What are some of the very first fully orchestrated film scores?
    While I'm a film buff and soundtrack collector, even an experienced film music couch potato such as myself won't have authentic insider information on the manuscripts written from about 1932/'33 onwards.

    I select those years because it is generally agreed upon that the early sound films ("talkies") had music specifically written for them to be mixed with dialogue and sound effects. Of course, there were (are?) film scores written to accompany silent films (from the late 1920s going backwards to the late 1890s), but many of these have been done in more recent decades such as those by Carl Davis. There are a few specific scores that I'm aware of which were composed at the time period of a silent film's completion (the one I have on CD is this French import which is a digital recording of Florent Schmitt's 1925 Salammbo):



    From my limited knowledge of the silent film era, most of these pictures had musicians performing 'ad hoc' music to accompany the visuals and the types of music they played depended on what repertoire they were familiar with. Even with specifically written scores, my understanding is that the synchronization between those films and the music was tenuous if not altogether slapdash.

    But back to the topic of fully orchestrated film scores, I dare say that Max Steiner and Alfred Newman were the film studio music heads who spearheaded the music departments' click track technology to synchronize their music to onscreen content.
    Hugo Friedhofer, who later arose in status to an A-list studio composer after WWII, was chief orchestrator for most if not all of the manuscripts done by Steiner, Newman, Korngold, etc.

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    Victor Redseal
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    One of the first true orchestrated efforts was "The Birth of a Nation" from 1915 or so. Showings were accompanied by teams of musicians and sound FX people. I don't know what music they did or who wrote it.

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    I found this while searching for some American composers on New World Records.

    THE PIONEERS OF MOVIE MUSIC: Sounds from the American Silent Cinema, 1914–1928
    The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra; Rick Benjamin, musical director
    http://www.newworldrecords.org/album...album_id=93227
    liner notes: http://www.newworldrecords.org/uploads/file6fUaj.pdf



    1. Appassionato No. 1 (1923) (Erno Rapée/William Axt)
    2. Creepy Creeps: Mysterioso (1922) (Gaston Borch)
    3. Novelty Hurry (1920) (Christopher O’Hare)
    4. Storm Music (1919) (J.S. Zamecnik)
    5. The Trysting Place (1924) (Victor L. Schertzinger)
    6. Prelude to “Western American Drama” (1924) (Maurice Baron)
    7. Agitato Drammatico (1925) (Domenico Savino)
    8. Savage Carnival: A Wild Man’s Dance (1923) (Erno Rapée/William Axt)
    9-14. Synchronizing Suite No. 1 (1922/23) (M.L. Lake)
    15. Grandioso (1918) (Otto Langey)
    16. Agitato (1914) (M.L. Lake)
    17. Grotesque Elephantine (1918) (Lester Brockton)
    18. Emotional Andante (1925) (William Axt)
    19. Pizzicato Misterioso No. 30 (1916) (Adolf Minot)
    20. Prelude to “Romances of the Seven Seas” (1924) (Maurice Baron)
    21. Mystery–Hurry (1925) (Irénée Bergé)
    22. Hindu (1924) (J.S. Zamecnik)
    23. The Funny Guy (1928) (M.L. Lake)
    24. Silent Sorrows (1918) (Gaston Borch)
    25. Dramatic Agitato No. 38 (1917) (Adolf Minot)
    26. Battle Scenes (1916) (Adolf Minot)
    27. Zip (1925) (Hugo Frey)
    28. May-Dreams (1918) (Gaston Borch)
    29. Western Allegro (1923) (Erno Rapée/William Axt)
    30. Dramatic Tension for Subdued Action (1916) (Julius E. Andino)
    31. Furioso (1918) (T.H. Rollinson)
    32. The Moving Picture Rag (1914) (Ribé Danmark)
    33. Old Ironsides March—Main Title (1926) (Hugo Riesenfeld)

    "The extensive accompanying essay explores the widespread use of cinema orchestras (there were more than 8,000 of these in America by 1921); the methods for scoring (“setting”) the films (“photoplays”); period performance techniques; the nationwide network for publishing and distributing film scores; the working life of cinema musicians; the influence of brilliant, music loving showmen-exhibitors like Roxy (Samuel L. Rothafel); and biographical profiles of the composers represented. Original orchestrations have been selected from the Capitol Theater’s 1,000–title collection of c. 1900 to 1928 cinema scores, played by the world’s leading silent film accompanists (with 650 screenings to date)—the Paragon (Ragtime) Orchestra."

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    I was lucky enough to attend a show several years ago where the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra (see above) performed the original score accompanying Buster Keaton's The General.
    Having only otherwise seen the film with some wholly inappropriate classical music stuck onto it (Johann Strauss was in there, IIRC) with no bearing on the action, finally seeing it as it should have been was a wonderful experience, great fun. Aided by conductor Rick Benjamin encouraging the audience to cheer and boo as necessary!

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    Senior Member Prodromides's Avatar
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    Capriccio Records will release a CD in September containing Mascagni's music for the short silent film "Satan's Rhapsody"(1917).

    http://www.capriccio.at/pietro-masca...sodia-satanica

    "Pietro Mascagni’s single work for the early days of cinema was composed in winter time 1914/15.
    The idea of the film director Nino Oxilia was to create a “Poema cine-musicale”, a synthesis of the arts with music, poetry and finally cinematography. The plot is something like a female version of “Faust”, based on a poetry by Fausto Maria Martini. Mascagni itself conducted the first performance in July 1917 and orientated his composition near to Richard Wagners musical language.
    The French-German TV channel Arte restored this treasure of early cinema in 2006 and recorded the
    complete film music score which is now available also on CD."



    I recall hearing this before on an older Italian CD and the music is very much in the late-Romantic mold from the late 1800s.

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    Junior Member Sir Redcrosse's Avatar
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    One of my all-time favorite film scores is for Fritz Lang's Metropolis by Gottfried Huppertz. It's very grand and quite memorable, in my opinion.
    81Kye96EJqL._SX425_.jpg

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    Erik Satie´s and Rene Clair´s Relache - Entr´acte (1924) wasn´t mentioned yet:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entr%27acte_(film)

    You-tube, the complete movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpr8mXcX80Q

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    George Antheil & Fernand Leger: The project "Ballet Mecanique", partly abandoned (1924)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballet_M%C3%A9canique

    You-tube, complete movie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QV9-l-rXOE
    Last edited by joen_cph; Sep-07-2015 at 20:04.

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    Eisenstein: Battleship Potemkin (1925). I believe this is the original music composed by Meisel, not the later Shosty mix that is often used, but I´m no expert https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNT6xyopdBs

    cf. Shosty music https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TgWoSHUn8c

    Some remarks on early USSR movie music https://books.google.dk/books?id=flw...0music&f=false

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    Hindemith & Richter´s Ghosts before Breakfast (1928) Hindemith´s music seems lost, however. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKy4Pis_7T0

    Honegger also wrote a good deal of movie music, starting in the 1920s http://www.classical.net/music/recs/.../mpl23467a.php

    Ibert from the 1930s
    http://www.allmusic.com/album/film-m...s-mw0001433185

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    The 1908 film L'assissinat du Duc de Guise featured a score written by Saint-Saëns - one of the first film scores, I think.
    ≥12

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    Default Birth of a Nation

    My grandfather was Fredrick Arundel, a conductor who helped write the musical scores for that silent film. I possess the actual musical manuscript. He also conducted the orchestra for the film.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Passway View Post
    My grandfather was Fredrick Arundel, a conductor who helped write the musical scores for that silent film. I possess the actual musical manuscript. He also conducted the orchestra for the film.
    Fascinating... Did he do any other D.W. Griffith films? By the way welcome to TC, I see it's your first post.

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