Forum - General Questions

Jerry Goldsmith visits America Online

This is a transcript of a live online chat with Jerry Goldsmith from 1995 that I
saved as a text file those many years ago. I thought posting it now, since he is
being remembered, made sense. I hope you all find it interesting.

Jerry Goldsmith visits with members of America Online
A Center Stage Transcript from July 11, 1995
© 1995 America Online Inc.

OnlineHost: The auditorium consists of two major areas: the audience, where
you are right now, and the stage, where the speakers appear. Text which you
type onscreen shows only to those in your row, prefaced by the row number in
parentheses, such as (2) if you are in row 2. To interact with the speaker, use
the Interact icon on your screen.

OnlineHost: To send your question to the speaker, click on the Interact icon,
then use the Ask a Question option.

OnlineHost: Goldsmith’s most recent scores accompany such motion pictures as
“First Knight,” “Congo,” “The River Wild,” “I.Q.,” “Malice,” “Six Degrees of
Separation,” “Rudy,” and “Basic Instinct,” for which he received an Oscar

OnlineHost: Beginning his career in radio and television, Goldsmith earned
Emmys for such acclaimed telefilms as “The Red Pony,” “QB VII,” “Babe,” and
“Masada.” His first score for a major motion picture, “Lonely Are the Brave”
(1960), led to work on such classics as “Freud” (1962) and “Lilies of the Field”

OnlineHost: His most celebrated scores include the avant garde “Planet of the
Apes” (1968), the martial pomp of “Patton” (1970), the hopelessness of
“Papillon” (1973) and “Chinatown” (1974) and the terror of “The Omen” (1977),
for which he won the Oscar.

OnlineHost: In the theater, his music has graced three ballets. “A Patch of Blue”
was choreographed for the San Francisco Ballet in 1970; “Othello,” which
premiered in 1971, is now in the permanent repertoire of the National Ballet of
Australia; and in 1989 “Capricorn One” was adapted from the screen and
presented by BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio.

OnlineHost: Goldsmith has also enjoyed a long relationship with the concert
stage. In 1969 he made his debut as a concert conductor with the Southern
California Symphony conducting his own “Christus Apollo,” a cantata with text by
author Ray Bradbury. His “Music For Orchestra” premiered during the 1971/72
season of the St. Louis Symphony under the direction of Leonard Slatkin.

OnlineHost: For a quarter of a century Goldsmith has guest conducted, in
concerts of his own music and that of others, with North American orchestras in
cities such as Baltimore, Cincinnati, Detroit, Ft. Worth, Indianapolis, Milwaukee,
Pittsburgh, San Diego, Syracuse, Toledo, Toronto and the National Orchestra in
Washington, DC.

OnlineHost: Traveling to Spain and Finland, he has also waved the baton before
the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London, the London Symphony Orchestra,
the London Philharmonia Orchestra and in a live radiocast with the BBC Concert
Orchestra from the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham, England. Welcome Jerry
Goldsmith to Center Stage, please!

CelebCircl: Welcome! Thanks for joining us at the Oldsmobile Celebrity Circle!

GoldsmithJ: Hi! It’s nice being here!

CelebCircl: The first question is from VonDoom.

Question: Jerrald, I’ve listened to and admired your work for many, many years.
“The Sand Pebbles” is a personal favorite. Were there any unique challenges, or
anecdotes about doing that score?

GoldsmithJ: Yes. Originally I was supposed to do Grand Prix, but I was under
contract to 20th Century Fox at that time and Alex North was supposed to do
“Sand Pebbles,” but he got sick, so Fox preempted me out of Grand Prix, and to
my good fortune, I got to do “Sand Pebbles.” It was my first time working with
Robert Wise and it was a great experience.

CelebCircl: The next question is also from VonDoom.

Question: Many of us were disappointed that a soundtrack recording was never
released for “Tora!Tora!Tora!” Why wasn’t one released?

GoldsmithJ: There was no album for “Tora!Tora!Tora!” because no record
company wanted to release it. The decision to release the soundtrack album is
not mine to be made, it’s up to the record company or the studio.

CelebCircl: The next question is from Peggasus.

Question: Mr. Goldsmith - I worked with Gene Hackman on “Under Fire” (1982);
I taught him to play the piano for the movie. I also got to do some incidental
music for it. Did you have fun scoring that film? I’m a big fan of yours..welcome
to AOL!

GoldsmithJ: I had a great time writing the music for “Under Fire.” The picture
was temp tracked with Andes Folk Music, which used the pan pipes. Because
they liked the sound of that so much, they wanted me to use the pan pipes in the

CelebCircl: The next question is from SWBFett.

Question: Mr. Goldsmith, the “First Knight” soundtrack was awesome, “The
Shadow” was awesome. What do you have in the works right now?

GoldsmithJ: Right now I’m writing the music for “City Hall” starring Al Pacino,
and after that I’m doing a movie called “Powder.”

CelebCircl: The next question is from SILKY 501.

Question: Hi Mr. Goldsmith. You don’t know me but I am pretty sure I know you.
Just to make sure that I am talking to the right person do you have a son named

GoldsmithJ: Yes, I have a son named Aaron.

CelebCircl: The next question is from Jill Smo.

Question: Hi Jerry! I own a secretarial service in Santa Barbara and I recently
transcribed about 30 hours worth of tapes for Fred Karlin who is apparently
making a movie about you! I feel like I know you better than some of my good
friends! When does this movie come out and where will we be able to see it?

GoldsmithJ: I have not even seen the movie yet myself! I’m anxious to see it!

CelebCircl: The next question is from JKHolm.

Question: Mr. Goldsmith, which film composers, past or present, do you most

GoldsmithJ: I most admire Franz Waxman, Alex North, and I like John Williams.

CelebCircl: The next question is from FilmWalla.

Question: How has the art of film composing changed over the years? For
instance, your score for “Boys From Brazil” seems so free-flowing as opposed to
your current scores which are more premise and calculated. Has less freedom
been the result of an increase in studio involvement?

GoldsmithJ: Nothing has changed. I write what the film asks for.

CelebCircl: The next question is from VonDoom.

Question: Which were your favorite scores to work on? Least favorite?

GoldsmithJ: Recently, my most favorite scores to work on were “Basic Instinct,”
“Rudy,” and “First Knight.” My least favorite score to work on was “Gladiator.”
Fortunately for me, the score was not used.

CelebCircl: The next question is from Joy run.

Question: I understand that you and Alex North were close friends. Your
landmark recording of North’s 2001 was special and long overdue. Do you intend
to conduct “Spartacus” or any other of his film scores?
GoldsmithJ: I just recorded “A Streetcar Named Desire,” which will be released in

CelebCircl: The next question is from CKaplan74.

Question: I read that you don’t want to release everything so that they don’t
collect dust on our shelves, but what about “The Challenge?” It’s fantastic, as
was everything you wrote in 1982. What a phenomenal year!

GoldsmithJ: I don’t prefer to have every film score I write be on a record. There
are too many soundtrack albums out there right now. I think soundtrack albums
should be special. Not every soundtrack is that special.

CelebCircl: The next question is from Goldmore.

Question: Is it true your pony tail has mystical powers?

GoldsmithJ: Ah Ha! The secret of my success is now made public!

CelebCircl: The next question is from FordaT.

Question: Mr. Goldsmith, do you plan to ever record any of your concert works
such as “Music for Orchestra”?

GoldsmithJ: At the present time I have no plans to record any of my concert

CelebCircl: The next question is from VonDoom.

Question: Do you feel that the quality of your music sometimes surpasses the
quality of a movie? Vice versa?

GoldsmithJ: I try to do the best I can with whatever film assignment I have. I
think that everyone who is working tries to write the best score possible. None of
us intentionally set out to write a bad piece of music. But we are not machines,
and sometimes some things are better than others.

CelebCircl: The next question is from MCK1138.

Question: What did you use as inspiration when you composed the score for
“Planet of the Apes”?
GoldsmithJ: Each film is the source of my inspiration. Each film has its own
problems and its own demands.

CelebCircl: The next question is from Alipies.

Question: I heard that the studios make decisions more by committee than one
single person these days...I was wondering how that affects you in your dealings
with the filmmakers and making creative decisions?

GoldsmithJ: I really only deal with the director on a film. He is the one that is
affected by decisions made by executives. Then it is up to him to tell me what he

CelebCircl: The next comment is from Eebs.

Question: Mr. Goldsmith, I met your son, Aaron at camp. I was really surprised to
hear that you would be on America Online. I really enjoy your music, and I
especially liked the score for “First Knight.”

GoldsmithJ: Thank you. My son is at camp again right now. I think my other
son is somewhere on AOL!

CelebCircl: The next question is from SWBFett.

Question: Mr. Goldsmith, when you score a film, do you watch the film first with
no music, or do you have another process?

GoldsmithJ: Yes. When I score a film I see the picture. Sometimes there is
temporary music in the film.

CelebCircl: The next question is from Cyberneuf.

Question: And also, any suggestions/comments for those of us trying to break
into film scoring? I’m working with independent filmmakers now, to get a start...

GoldsmithJ: Its best by starting to score low budget films and making
connections with filmmakers, the directors, producers, editors, music editors...
The way to get work is to work.

CelebCircl: The next question is from DADDYALAN.

Question: Mr. Goldsmith, what’s your opinion of John Williams’ work? Are you a
fan? Do you feel it’s too commercial? Has he lost his touch since “Raiders

GoldsmithJ: I like John William’s work very much and I hardly think he’s lost his
touch. Listen to “Schindler’s List.”

CelebCircl: The next question is from FilmWalla.

Question: The score for “Boys From Brazil” becomes with the main suite (waltz)
and then gradually becomes dark, and very Wagnerish. What were your
objectives regarding score and did you achieve them?

GoldsmithJ: I hope I achieved my objective on “Boys From Brazil.” The
objectives were to depict Mengele the Barbarian and to treat Lieberman in the
style of Richard Strauss.

CelebCircl: The next question is from Arnold LS.

Question: Obviously, you’ve scored a wide variety of films of all kinds. But what
films (recent or otherwise) do you wish you’d had a chance to score, but didn’t?

GoldsmithJ: (Bognarian, sorry!)

GoldsmithJ: (Wagnerian - sorry!)

GoldsmithJ: I would love to have scored Schindler’s List.

CelebCircl: The next question is from ABBYRED.

Question: What type of music are you a “closet” fan of? What don’t you want
your colleagues to know you listen to?

GoldsmithJ: Rap and Hip Hop.

CelebCircl: The next question is from JazzzyMac.

Question: Do you think movies are approaching overkill? Will they go back
somewhat to the simpler movies like “Casablanca” and start all over again?

GoldsmithJ: I would love it if they went back to simple movies. Simple movies
with basic human values, a film like “Rudy” is what I love doing. Although I did
have a wonderful time with “First Knight.”

CelebCircl: The next question is from MCK1138.

Question: You’ve written themes for “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (which was
later used for Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Star Trek: Voyager. Do you
make residuals on these? Which of the two themes do you like best?

GoldsmithJ: I like both themes. Yes I do make residuals.

CelebCircl: The next question is from JefferyAJ.

Question: What is the best way to break through into the world of film scoring? I
am already a composer with plenty of MIDI gear for demos...

GoldsmithJ: I already answered that question. Look into my earlier response.

CelebCircl: The next question is from I owe ya.

Question: How do you foresee the world of digital music/recording impacting
upon the film industry...with all the power and technology of big studios now
within the reach of ordinary composer/humans?

GoldsmithJ: The answer is that the music is the most important thing. Whatever
the means of recording and reproducing it are secondary.

CelebCircl: The next question is from Bozangha.

Question: Also, how did you make the transition from music production to film

GoldsmithJ: I don’t understand what you mean by music production. However, I
started composing music for radio, then moved to television, and then to feature
motion pictures.
CelebCircl: The next question is from NU Chris.

Question: Out of all the music you have composed, which is your personal

GoldsmithJ: That’s a tough question to answer. Right now I’m very fond of “First
Knight.” I also love “Rudy,” “Basic Instinct,” “Islands in the Streams,”
“Chinatown,” “Patton,” etc.

CelebCircl: The next question is from BCanedo.

Question: I am a music major and would very much like to write for movies.
How do I do it?

GoldsmithJ: See above.

CelebCircl: The next question is from CKaplan74.

Question: Might the music you wrote for the Dredd preview ever be available?

GoldsmithJ: No.

CelebCircl: The next question is from Niki Nana.

Question: Mr. Goldsmith, do you feel that the present atmosphere of the major
music schools such as Oberlin and Juilliard is a burden or a hindrance on the
creativity of aspiring orchestral composers?

GoldsmithJ: I’m very impressed with the quality of musical education in schools
such as Oberlin, Juilliard, University of Indiana, etc. I can think of no better place
or atmosphere to prepare yourself as a composer. I feel that this type of
education is a necessity for an aspiring composer.

CelebCircl: The next question is from Songman.

Question: I just saw “First Knight” last night. The score was beautiful. Do you
enjoy writing scores that evoke a ‘period’ feel?

GoldsmithJ: I enjoy doing music of a certain period, or that has a certain ethnic
feel to it.

CelebCircl: The next question is from I owe ya.

Question: What is the worst thing that has ever happened while you were in the
process of composing for a film? A ‘Murphy’s Law’ type question...

GoldsmithJ: I had no ideas.

CelebCircl: The next question is from Travel Lo.

Question: You’re strongly linked to the Sci Fi/Fantasy genre. Do you have an
affinity for science fiction or scoring those types of films?

GoldsmithJ: I don’t know why I am so strongly linked to Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre. I
don’t particularly enjoy doing that kind of film any more than I enjoy doing any
other kind. But type casting seems to be a Hollywood syndrome.

CelebCircl: The next question is from FilmWalla.

Question: You’ve garnered fame around the world with your work. For instance,
I recently saw a film from India which used your score from “Total Recall.” Do
you feel that perhaps that you are setting an international standard for cinema

GoldsmithJ: I never looked at it that way. It would be nice to think that I was
that influential.

CelebCircl: The next question is from KBGman.

Question: Could you discuss unused scores a bit, such as “Gladiator” and “Alien
Nation?” Why is a score not used?

GoldsmithJ: Usually the film’s in trouble and it’s the last thing they can monkey

CelebCircl: The next question is from DHust.

Question: I know this may sound naive, but how in the world do you keep your
creative juices flowing so well, considering the amount of work you do?

GoldsmithJ: I love doing what I do. I’m very lucky that my job is something that
I’ve always wanted to do, so it’s easy to keep getting excited over new projects.

CelebCircl: The next question is from Ddot.

Question: Do you do your own orchestrations?

GoldsmithJ: I do very complete sketches that are completed by my orchestrators.

CelebCircl: The next question is from Hrren001.

Question: I very much enjoyed your work for “Alien” and often wonder why the
otherwise enjoyable sequel’s score was written by Mr. Horner, any comment?

GoldsmithJ: A simple answer to the “Alien” question is: I wasn’t asked to do the

CelebCircl: The next question is from DADDYALAN.

Question: I assume you must have started in your high school band...what was
your first instrument to learn?

GoldsmithJ: I started piano lessons when I was 6 years old. It’s the only
instrument I’ve ever played.

CelebCircl: Just time for a few more questions, folks!

CelebCircl: The next question is from VonDoom.

Question: Why did you score only one movie soundtrack in 1980 after so many
years of doing 3+?

GoldsmithJ: It’s just the way the films were released, not when I did them.

CelebCircl: The next question is from Zappaq.

Question: Do you write at the piano?

GoldsmithJ: Yes, I write at the piano.

CelebCircl: The next question is from OCEAN DIG.

Question: In “Chinatown,” you utilized “inside the piano” effects. In your mind
were you imitating the sounds of the young girl as we looked through the

GoldsmithJ: No, that’s the not the reason why I used “prepared piano.” The
sound is just something I heard in my head.

CelebCircl: The next question is from Jerlo.

CelebCircl: What do you think of soundtrack collectors?

GoldsmithJ: I’m glad that people like that exist because they buy records. But I
sometimes wonder if an avid collector like Ford Thaxton has a life.

CelebCircl: The next question is from NkdCain.

Question: There’s a really cool sound in “Legend.” I’m pretty sure it’s from “The
Ring.” Anyway, it sounds almost as if you took sheet metal and twanged it. But
what is that from really?

GoldsmithJ: It was electronic sound - DX7.

OnlineHost: Our thanks to Jerry Goldsmith for taking time to join us in Center
Stage. For a transcript of this event, please return to Center Stage within 24
hours. Thank you and good night.

GoldsmithJ: Thank you. It’s been great being with you. Keep buying the
(Copyright 1995 America Online, Inc.)

glenngarv, July 24, 2004; 4:07 PM


Very interesting! If you know of other cool Goldsmith interviews on the internet, tell us all. I read a few but I want more. Anything that tells more about the man, about Jerry. When I love a work of art I'm curious about the artist's life. Don't you?

vodka_kayou, July 24, 2004; 11:57 PM

Thank you Glenngarv for putting this interview online,
I've never read it before. The last days I've been playing
a lot of mr. Goldsmith's music, somehow I expect the
score-world to become less adventurous but more
"Media-Venturous" Mr.Goldsmith will be missed...

contact, July 25, 2004; 12:13 AM

What a generous, kind, and very funny man Jerry Goldsmith proves himself to be. Thank you, glenngary, for this posting. Goldsmith's spirit of adventure and verve for life will live for generations!

dtr_champion, July 25, 2004; 1:16 PM

Just caught up with this tribute to Mr. Goldsmith and found it to be one of the best things I've read. Thanks, glenngary, for sharing it with us.

weavercp, August 2, 2004; 7:45 PM

Well executed! Jerry Goldsmith will always known as not only as one of the greatest film composers of all time, but one of the greatest composers, period! (just check out his vast recorded output, which amounts to around 200 C.D.s, an output that not even Garth Brooks or Mariah Carey can match!).

Garrett, November 7, 2008; 4:26 AM

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