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May 10, 2017
Jerry Goldsmith Day Declared in L.A.
Revered Hollywood composer receives star on Walk of Fame by Jon Burlingame
HOLLYWOOD—Tuesday, May 9, was declared Jerry Goldsmith Day in Los Angeles, as the legendary composer of such classics as Planet of the Apes, Patton and Chinatown was postumously honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Approximately 200 friends, family members and fans attended the ceremony at 6752 Hollywood Boulevard. It was streamed live by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, enabling fans around the world to watch. Among those attending were such longtime Goldsmith collaborators as directors Joe Dante (Gremlins) and Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct), record producer Robert Townson, engineer Bruce Botnick and pianist Mike Lang.
Composer David Newman, who has often conducted Goldsmith scores in concert, reminisced about playing under Goldsmith's baton when he was a studio violinist during the late 1970s and early 1980s. His first job was playing on the composer's TV movie Contract on Cherry Street, and was amazed to find nine trombones in the orchestra. "He made these nine trombones sing and be wistful and powerful. It was an incredible introduction to what Jerry Goldsmith was all about," Newman said.
He rhapsodized about the sound and structure of the famous Chinatown score, pointing out that the strummed strings inside four pianos and the four harps were like "water falling, looking at a lake with the water moving back and forth. Jerry completely set up what the movie was about: water, reflection. Later comes the noir trumpet and the beautiful strings. That," Newman said, "is a consummate film composer."
Newman became visibly emotional when he summed up the maestro: "I never met an artist like him. He was always young, always curious, always interested in music in all its variety and beauty. I miss him every day."
Fellow composer Charles Fox, who also conducted many Goldsmith concerts over the years, said "Jerry's music reached way down into the heart of the films that he composed music for." He cited Goldsmith's "soaring melodies, as in Papillon; or the world of film noir, with an exquisite melody in a haunting setting, as in Chinatown. He could raise the intensity of a film with dramatic, pulsating music that got under our skin and left you on the edge of your seat, as in The Omen. His music could surround the character on the screen with an aura of bravado, defining the character that was Patton.
"The depth of his composition was everywhere apparent in his music. Jerry Goldsmith was not only one of the greatest composers in film music, he is truly in the pantheon of great American composers," Fox said.
Paul Williams, lyricist for two Goldsmith movies (The Secret of NIMH and The Sum of All Fears), talked about the experience of writing songs with the composer: first on "Flying Dreams" from the animated NIMH, when Williams candidly said he was addicted to alcohol and cocaine; and then years later, when he was sober and Goldsmith asked for a lyric – ultimately translated into Latin and sung as an operatic aria – for Sum of All Fears (the song, a prayer for peace, was called "If We Could Remember"). "His patience and his heart were as large as his talent," Williams said. "God bless Jerry."
Williams also quoted Henry Mancini who, back in the 1990s when Goldsmith received a life achievement award from The Film Music Society, famously said of his colleague: "He scares the hell out of us, and he keeps us honest."
Goldsmith's widow Carol called him "my elegant, loving, brilliantly talented husband for 32 years. He was extremely modest and would not have sought this recognition for himself." She read excerpts from letters sent by friends and admirers including actors Donald Sutherland, Richard Chamberlain and Alec Baldwin. She and son Aaron were presented with an ornately designed and colorful resolution from the Los Angeles City Council recognizing Goldsmith's many achievements.
Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Leron Gubler served as master of ceremonies and helped Carol and Aaron unveil the star in front of the Musicians Institute. At 12:03 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, thirteen years after his death in 2004, Jerry Goldsmith finally had his star on the Walk of Fame. The crowd (including such fellow composers as Christopher Young, Christophe Beck and Austin Wintory) cheered its approval.
Goldsmith's is the 2,611th star on the Walk of Fame. He joins such other film-music luminaries as Mancini, Max Steiner, Alfred Newman, Elmer Bernstein, Quincy Jones, Lalo Schifrin, Hans Zimmer, Ernest Gold, Maurice Jarre, Victor Young, Ennio Morricone, Bill Conti, Randy Newman and Alan Menken, all of whom have sidewalk stars.
©2017 Jon Burlingame