Celluloid Symphonies: Texts and Contexts in Film Music History

Celluloid Symphonies: Texts and Contexts in Film Music History

Celluloid Symphonies: Texts and Contexts in Film Music History

Celluloid Symphonies: Texts and Contexts in Film Music History

Synopsis

Celluloid Symphonies is a unique sourcebook of writings on music for film, bringing together fifty-three critical documents, many previously inaccessible. It includes essays by those who created the music--Max Steiner, Erich Korngold, Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein and Howard Shore--and outlines the major trends, aesthetic choices, technological innovations, and commercial pressures that have shaped the relationship between music and film from 1896 to the present. Julie Hubbert's introductory essays offer a stimulating overview of film history as well as critical context for the close study of these primary documents. In identifying documents that form a written and aesthetic history for film music, Celluloid Symphonies provides an astonishing resource for both film and music scholars and for students.

Excerpt

In the last few decades, the study of film as a unique and independent art form has flourished in scholarly communities and university curriculums. As film studies have grown in depth and detail, however, one aspect has remained significantly underappreciated and unexamined: film music. Not only has the film studies community had little to say about this integral and essential aspect of the film medium, but music historians, too, have participated in this neglect, overlooking film music both as an important part of a new, uniquely twentiethcentury art form and as an important component of twentieth-century music history. Recently, a concerted attempt to correct this neglect has been initiated, most notably with several fine edited essay collections analyzing individual films. But the discipline still lacks literature that combines historical scope with a critical scholarly intent. It also lacks literature that is fundamentally interdisciplinary, with potential appeal to students and scholars in both film and music studies.

As a history of American film music, Celluloid Symphonies is quite different from the existing handful of histories in the literature. Some, like Roy M. Prendergast’s seminal Film Music: A Neglected Art (1977; 2d ed. 1992), which provides commentary on films only to 1970, or Royal S. Brown’s detailed but very selective study Overtones and Undertones: Reading Film Music (1994), are not comprehensive. Others, like Laurence E. MacDonald’s The Invisible Art of Film Music (1998), Larry M. Timm’s The Soul of Cinema: An Appreciation of Film Music (2002), and, to some extent, Roger Hickman’s Reel Music: Exploring 100 Years of Film Music (2005), are not critically minded. Celluloid Symphonies, in contrast, aims to be comprehensive both historically and analytically. It charts the major innovations . . .

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