Friday, June 1, 2012

Miklos Rozsa (1907-1995)

Portrait of the artist as a young man.

“You don’t decide to be a composer. You must have the inborn talent, plus a 100% urge to compose... Serious composing is the only art at which you cannot make a living. Its a curse youll follow, though, even if you die of hunger.

Receiving his 1945 Oscar for Spellbound from Ginger Rogers.

[On his score for Spellbound] “Alfred Hitchcock didnt like the music — said it got in the way of his direction. I never saw him since.

The symphonic composer.
“I was never at home in the studio. The so-called Hollywood people and I didnt talk the same language, I admit. For that reason, it was in every one of my contracts that I dont have to go to the studios. I dont have physically to do my work there. I always work at home. I get prints of the film, I have conferences with the producer or the director before, and I only go to the studio at the end to record it.
(1977 interview with Robert Porfirio)

The soundtrack composer.
“Emotions in a film come from elements that may be completely asymmetrical, like a kaleidoscope. Music is the element that keeps the different elements together, because it has continuity and rhythm. Music is the most abstract element in a film, full of impressionistic effects, but it usually has the most symmetry. That is why music should underline drama, not create it. It may be even worse today, the use of what in Hollywood is called wall-to-wall music, but even then many producers and directors did not understand the importance of silence.
(1977 interview with Robert Porfirio)  

Rozsa sometime in the 1950s.
[On his inspiration for Ben-Hur] “I walked long afternoons in the Forum Romanum on the Capitoline and Palatine Hills, imagining the old splendor of the buildings which are in ruins now, and the excitement of the multitude in flowing togas in the Circus Maximus where I wrote the music for the Circus and Victory parades.
(from The Composer in Hollywood)

Receiving his 1959 Oscar for Ben-Hur from Gene Kelly.

“I believe in music as a form of communication; for me it is more an expression of emotion than an intellectual or cerebral crossword puzzle... I am a traditionalist, but I believe tradition can be so recreated as to express the artists own epoch while preserving its relationship with the past.
(from Rozsas autobiography, A Double Life)

My favorite Rozsa soundtracks: Double Indemnity (1944), Spellbound (1945), The Lost Weekend (1945), The Killers (1946), The Red House (1947), The Asphalt Jungle (1950), Lust for Life (1956), Ben-Hur (1959), The Power (1968), The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)

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