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Great Composers: Elmer Bernstein

Elmer Bernstein

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Album Review

Film Music by Elmer Bernstein is an entry in Silva Screen Records' series Film Music Masterworks, single-disc compilations devoted to individual film composers and drawn from the label's extensive library of re-recordings of movie scores, mostly performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. (One track here, "The Man with the Golden Arm," is by the National Youth Jazz Orchestra.) Silva Screen recycles this material frequently; for example, every track here with the exception of "Rooster and Leboeuf," the cue from True Grit, appeared previously on the 2005 double-CD The Essential Elmer Bernstein Film Music Collection, itself a compilation largely made up of previously released tracks. This reduction, like its predecessor, gives a good sense of the composer's versatility while spotlighting some of his most famous themes, notably those for The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape. Those action-adventures are contrasted by Bernstein's work for comedy films, particularly his suite from Airplane!, beginning with a spoof of John Williams' music for Jaws and going on to reference other film music and the classics, including Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. Bernstein can be delicate, as in his To Kill a Mockingbird suite, and epic, as in his percussive overture for Hawaii. This is just a sampling of the work of a major and prolific film composer, and it consists of re-recordings at that, but it gives a sense of his talent.


Born: April 04, 1922 in New York, NY

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

If Elmer Bernstein had realized his childhood hopes, he might have been a successful concert pianist from the '40s through the '60s. Instead, thanks to his ability as a composer (manifested at an early age), and the timely intervention of World War II, he has for more than four decades been...
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