During the last seventeen years I remained with Pat as his orchestrator but
gradually taking less and less of the work, while James Shearman took over
more and more. I also made several pictures for other composers including
Trevor Jones, Jenny Muskett, who specialized in wildlife films, Lawrence
Rosenthal and Basil Poledouris in the US.
Larry Rosenthal, who had been a pupil of the great French teacher, Nadia
Boulanger, was a latter day member of that group of composers who
dominated the film world after the second world war. Men like Miklos Rosza,
and Dmitri Tiomkin, serious composers who became film composers after
starting out as modern classical composers. They all had repertoires of serious
compositions before joining the film world.
Larry‘s style of writing betrayed his musical education because he could,
if necessary, adopt any musical style that was needed. He had agreed to take
on half the composing for a TV series, “The Young Indiana Jones”, that
George (“Star Wars“) Lucas was filming. This was a sort of filmic survey of
America‘s political role in world affairs in the 20th century, a brilliant idea, as
it combined dramatic stories with a sly educational element. Plots involved
the assassination in Sarajevo that started the First World War, the story of
Picasso and the Spanish Civil War, as well as America‘s involvement in the
Boxer rebellion and other stories set all over the world. There were to be 26
separate issues of 45 minutes divided between the two composers, so each
took on 13 films, a pretty big job.
I helped Larry by orchestrating five or six of them because, as ever, there
was a very short time span between each film to enable the composer to get
his score ready to record. I enjoyed working on it as Larry‘s short scores were
studies of elegance and musical knowledge. At one moment he would be
writing in the style of Richard Strauss and at another Manuel de Falla, then
there would be a Russian or a Chinese story that needed appropriate music.
By the time I’d finished I’d received an education in 20th century music
Another interesting American that I met some years ago in Los Angeles
was George Korngold, son of the great Erich Korngold who is sometimes
referred to as the “father” of American movie music. George, a music editor
told me a couple of stories about life in the film colony that had the ring of
His first story concerned Alma Mahler, who had successively married
Gustav Mahler, then Walther Gropius the architect, and finally, Franz Werfel,
author of “The Song of Bernadette” for which he had been invited to
Hollywood to advise on the making of the movie of his novel. Franz brought
Alma with him.Alma was special; she was gorgeous and blond, amazingly
cultured, also composed music and was multi-lingual, at home in five or six
They were at a big dinner with Alma and Franz sitting side by side when
Alma suddenly broke into the conversation, “I vas married vis three Geniuses.
First there was Mahler, who died und left me all alone. Zen, zere vas Gropius,
anuzzer Genius. Und he died too and left me alone again. Now, here iz my
other genius dear Franzie ”.
There was a pause as she turned her beautiful eyes on Werfel.
“And of zose three Geniuses, you know, Franzie, the greatest Genius of
them all was…” She smiled down at him… MAHLER!!”
George Korngold told me another, even better one, which concerned his
father Erich, who was in the habit of meeting Max Steiner socially. At the
time that Steiner had just completed his score for “Gone with the Wind”.
Korngold was a veteran while Steiner was still a comparatively young man,
rather full of his recent success. Steiner made a joking comment about
Korngold, implying that Erich might be getting past it. They must have been
very good friends, or Steiner must have made his comparison tactfully,
because Korngold did not take the slightest offence. Instead he appeared to be
considering Steiner’s words and there was a pause. Then finally, “You know,
Max, I think you are right. And, what is more, I think I know the reason”.
Max, surprised at this reaction said, “Oh, and what is that?”
Korngold took his arm and looked at him in a fatherly way, “Why?
Because you are beginning to write like me while I am beginning to write like
It was in 2004 when we heard that Pat had been offered “Harry Potter and
the Goblet of Fire” directed by Mike Newell, for whom Pat had already
worked on “Carlito’s Way”. I was impressed. Any composer would give their
proverbial right arm for such an assignment as by taking part in such a
legendary series you become a legend yourself by association.
Warners, the production company, liked to surround the Harry Potter
series with a smoke screen of absurd secrecy. No one could speak the words
“Harry Potter” and give away what we working on. It had to have a false
name, which I have forgotten, something like “Summer Days”. Did this fool
anyone? I rather doubt it, but it satisfied Warners own sense of its importance.
Pat has a tendency to rise to an occasion by writing fast music, and
although he had got my old orchestra, the LSO, to record the picture, I noticed
many faces grimly concentrating as they tore through some of the cues. The
final picture was declared the best one so far.
After Harry Potter I only made one more film with Pat. I finished my
association with him as I had started, with a Ken Branagh film “As You Like
It”, a charming, Japanese inflected piece.
This had been the very play that The Renaissance Theatre Group had been
doing, back in the 90s when we met, so it seemed the right moment to call it a
The film business is supposed to be a young man’s business, and I was 78.
I must be the child in me that kept me in this exciting, crazy field so long…
It certainly wasn’t just for the money!