Young British Composer Tarik O’ Regan tells the story of how the tradition of Western classical music, its composers and maestros, underpinned the golden age of Hollywood film score.
More or less the entire Hollywood music scene, as it blossomed in the 1930s, looked to serious European and Russian composers for film score composition. Stravinsky, Schoenberg, two of the greatest composers of ‘serious’ 20th century music, both lived and worked in LA – much to the consternation of the European classical music establishment.
Many composers on the run from Europe in the 1930s would arrive in New York and, failing to make inroads into the concert scene or Broadway (as Kurt Weil had done), continued their journey West. Even as early cinema flourished, America was still struggling to find its own authentic ‘classical’ music – one that strived to be equal to the European symphonic sound but that had its own voice too. The film score was precisely that.
Meanwhile most of the Hollywood film orchestras were filled with British and European émigré musicians who taught American musicians the European symphonic style that became the hallmark of Hollywood film music. This programme also explores how some of the most successful soundtrack composers today – John Williams and others – are completely caught up in that sound-world.
Presented by Tarik O’Regan, an émigré composer himself who moved to the US, with contributors including Andre Previn, Larry Schoenberg, conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen and music writer Alex Ross.
Produced by Simon Hollis
A Brook Lapping production for BBC Radio 4.