Paramount Pictures & The Film Music Society Preservation Project

In September 1995, Paramount Pictures and The Film Music Society teamed up for the enormous challenge of cleaning, cataloging and preserving orchestral scores and parts for approximately 1,500 feature film and shorts along with numerous television shows in a program designed to safeguard the musical legacy of Paramount Pictures. The preservation work involved seven months of intensive efforts by The Film Music Society's music preservation specialists and librarians, and involved the curation of more than five tons of music.

As the first film studio to undertake a music preservation program of this magnitude, Paramount led the effort to salvage and protect its film music legacy at a time when scholars, students, recording companies and the general public were becoming more and more aware of the importance of film music, both current and from years past.

The Paramount collection, which spans the years from 1929 to the present, is currently stored on the Paramount studio lot in Hollywood. Not only does the preservation work secure the future of these materials, once endangered because of less-than-ideal storage conditions, but it also makes them more easily accessible. Long-range plans are to move it to a Los Angeles-area location (yet to be determined) that is accessible to scholars, musicians and students.

Although Paramount Pictures sold its pre-1948 films to MCA, the studio still maintains the publishing rights to the music for all the films it produced – from Mission: Impossible to The Ten Commandments to hundreds of others – through its publishing affiliate, Famous Music Corporation. Music from the original Star Trek series and other television shows is also included in the collection, as are composers' sketches, notes, conductor books and much more.

Among the many composers represented in the collection are Elmer Bernstein, Bruce Broughton, Georges Delerue, Danny Elfman, Jerry Goldsmith, Bernard Herrmann, James Horner, Maurice Jarre, Henry Mancini, Alfred Newman, Alex North, Basil Poledouris, Nelson Riddle, Nino Rota, Miklós Rózsa, Lalo Schifrin, Marc Shaiman, Franz Waxman, Roy Webb, Victor Young and Hans Zimmer.

Said then-FMS President Elmer Bernstein: "The completion of the Paramount project signals a new chapter in the Society's film music preservation efforts. We believe that once the other studios see the results of this project, they will also agree to undertake similar projects with the other film and television music which is also in jeopardy. Such efforts are necessary for the long term survival of this music."

Funding for this project was provided by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and John B. DeNault III.

More detailed information about the Paramount preservation project is available in The Cue Sheet, Vol. 13, No. 2 (April, 1997) and Vol. 15, No. 3 (July, 1999).