Monday, April 24, 2017

Composer Cameos

Film director Alfred Hitchcock is known for making cameo appearances in his films. He’s seen leaving the pet store with two pups as Tippy Hedren enters in The Birds (1963). Or what about the man missing his bus during the title sequence of North by Northwest (1959)? But did you know that film composers sometimes make cameo appearances as well? Below is a list of a few of my favorites. Next time you watch one of these films, be on the lookout for the composer!

No Reservations (2007) – Philip Glass appears in the cafĂ© run by the three lead characters at the end of the film.

The Truman Show (1998) – Philip Glass appears playing the piano during the “Truman Sleeps” segment.

The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – extended edition (2003) – Howard Shore appears sharing a drink with the group following the Battle of Helm’s Deep.

Son of the Pink Panther (1993) – Henry Mancini hands the baton to the panther in the opening scene.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) – James Horner runs down a corridor as preparations are made for battle.

What other composer cameos have you seen in your favorite films?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ennio Morricone

You may be familiar with the work of Ennio Morricone (b. 1928) – a legend in film music history. Though prolific in a variety of genres, he gained fame from his work in collaboration with director Sergio Leone. This partnership resulted in well-known Spaghetti Westerns including A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966), Once Upon a Time in The West (1968), and A Fistful of Dynamite (1971). Morricone’s Western score influenced the way audiences expect Western films to sound. Credited with hundreds of scores, Morricone has several modern films you may be familiar with as well: The Hateful Eight (2015), Inglorious Basterds (2009), and Django Unchained (2012) are just a few.

What’s your favorite Morricone score?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Henry Mancini

It’s been a month of movie music in Clef Notes. Let’s focus our attention this week on a few pillars in film score history. We’ll talk about Ennio Morricone later in the week and today, it’s Henry Mancini (1924–1994).

Did you know that Henry Mancini was from Cleveland, Ohio? He was first introduced to music in his youth, playing the flute. Following WWII, he joined the Glenn Miller-Tex Beneke Orchestra as a pianist and arranger. He got his start at Universal in 1952 with a short assignment for an Abbott and Costello film. He ended up sticking around for several years after that, working in their music department. Over the course of his career, he won 4 Oscars, 20 Grammys, and other awards, and produced an impressive discography. Perhaps you’ve seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), The Pink Panther (1963), or Peter Gunn (1958–1961)? These are just a few examples from the extensive list of cinematic projects he contributed to throughout his lifetime. 

What’s your favorite Mancini score?