3.07.2008

two cool obits, music-related

You may not know Leonard Rosenman's name, but if you're into film, chances are you've been hearing his music all your life.

Leonard Rosenman, an Oscar-winning film composer who helped introduce avant-garde music to Hollywood movie scores,
died on Tuesday in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles. He was 83 and a former Hollywood resident. . . .

Mr. Rosenman, who could also write lushly traditional film scores, composed the original music for dozens of well-known pictures. Among them were "East of Eden" (`1955), "Rebel Without a Cause" (1955), "The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond" (1960), "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" (1970) and the 1978 version of "The Lord of the Rings."

He earned two Oscars for musical adaptation: for "Barry Lyndon" (1975), which drew on music by Handel, Schubert and others; and "Bound for Glory" (1976), based on Woody Guthrie songs.

With the composers Bernard Herrmann and Alex North, Mr. Rosenman was widely credited with bringing film music — long awash in Tchaikovsky-inflected Romanticism — squarely into the 20th century. For "The Cobweb" (1955), Mr. Rosenman wrote what is believed to be the first major Hollywood score to draw heavily on 12-tone techniques. (Most closely associated with the composer Arnold Schoenberg, 12-tone composition is an atonal method that involves using all 12 notes of the musical scale in equal proportion. The result is rarely considered hummable.)

For "Fantastic Voyage" (1966), one of Mr. Rosenman's most highly regarded scores, he wrote urgent, atonal music that some listeners compared favorably to the work of Alban Berg.

Besides his film work, Mr. Rosenman composed extensively for television. He won two Emmy awards: for "Sybil" (1976; with Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman) and for "Friendly Fire" (1979). He wrote music for "The Defenders," "Combat!" "Marcus Welby, M.D." and many other shows.

More about Mr. Rosenman's life and work here in his New York Times obit. It's an interesting story. He made an invaluable contribution to the worlds of both music and film, and to our culture.

The second obit is just a cool story. You may have already seen it, but not being a Beatles fan, I'm a few weeks behind the curve.
Paul Cole was in one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century, and yet he wasn't famous.

Cole, a longtime Barefoot Bay resident, died Wednesday in Pensacola at age 96. He is clearly seen in the famous shot of the Beatles walking across London's Abbey Road, used as the front cover of the group's classic 1969 album, "Abbey Road." Over the years, the picture has been reproduced in books, on posters, coffee mugs, T-shirts and hundreds of other places.

The retired salesman is standing on the sidewalk, just behind the Beatles. Gawking at them.

In a 2004 interview with Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers, Cole explained how he came to be there at that precise moment.

On a London vacation with his wife, Cole — then a resident of Deerfield Beach — declined to enter a museum on the north London thoroughfare.

"I told her, 'I've seen enough museums. You go on in, take your time and look around and so on, and I'll just stay out here and see what's going on outside,'" he recalled.

Parked just outside was a black police van. "I like to just start talking with people," Cole said. "I walked out, and that cop was sitting there in that police car. I just started carrying on a conversation with him. I was asking him about all kinds of things, about the city of London and the traffic control, things like that. Passing the time of day."

In the picture, Cole is standing next to the police van.

It was 10 a.m., Aug. 8, 1969. Photographer Iain McMillan was on a stepladder in the middle of the street, photographing the four Beatles as they walked, single-file, across Abbey Road, John Lennon in his famous white suit, Paul McCartney without shoes. The entire shoot lasted 10 minutes.

"I just happened to look up, and I saw those guys walking across the street like a line of ducks," Cole remembered. "A bunch of kooks, I called them, because they were rather radical-looking at that time. You didn't walk around in London barefoot."

About a year later, Cole first noticed the "Abbey Road" album on top of the family record player (his wife was learning to play George Harrison's love song "Something" on the organ). He did a double-take when he eyeballed McMillan's photo.

"I had a new sportcoat on, and I had just gotten new shell-rimmed glasses before I left," he says. "I had to convince the kids that that was me for a while. I told them, 'Get the magnifying glass out, kids, and you'll see it's me.'"

If you don't own "Abbey Road" (even non-Beatle-fans like me do!), you can see the photo here.

"I told her, 'I've seen enough museums. You go on in, take your time and look around and so on, and I'll just stay out here and see what's going on outside".

This is what my grandfather did, all over the world (and I do mean all over the world), while my grandmother visited museums. I wonder if Max is on the cover of any albums.

Other dumb personal notes on this post. "East of Eden" is one of my favourite books and also one of my favourite movies of that era. I used to watch "Marcus Welby, M.D." with my mother, almost daily. And my father watched "Combat!", a show I had completely forgotten about. He also watched another war show called "Rat Patrol". This is odd, because he was a peace activist and generally anti-military.

So I appreciated that Leonard Rosenman obit on many levels.

1 comment:

L-girl said...

Cue comment expressing shock that I don't like the Beatles...

I appreciate their contribution to music.

I fully respect the songwriting genius of Lennon and McCartney.

I like a few of their songs.

But in general I do not like their music.

OK, we got that out of the way, so please say something else.