Archive for November, 2005

david amram aetatis lxxv

Thursday, November 17th, 2005

Sometimes it seems as though everyone who came into contact with Leonard Bernstein turned to gold. David Amram turns 75 today; you can find plenty about him at his home page, in his books Vibrations and Offbeat: collaborating with Jack Kerouac (some reviews here — don’t miss the “sidebar” on “Experiencing Amram”). I’ll just mention two things:

If one has to name genuine landmarks in the realm of movie scores, and is limited to the fingers of one hand, it would be hard to avoid naming, say, Prokofiev’s collaboration with Eisenstein on Aleksandr Nevsky. Seems to me you’d have to include a Bernard Herrmann Hitchcock score — but which one? And it also seems, to me at least, that Schoenberg’s expressive Accompaniment to a cinema scene would actually have to go on the list, not that it ever accompanied a cinema scene, but because Arnie’s conception of such music is to this day the predominant one: audiences still absurdly recoil from his music in the concert hall, then the next evening heartily applaud action adventures or thrillers or even routine comedies and romances with scores that are essentially Schoenberg music. But come up with your own list of scores. In any case, David Amram’s for The Manchurian candidate may be the most remarkable ever written for a motion picture with a large audience. It’s huge — a durchkomponiert tour de force. Rent the movie — hear and see for yourself.

Second, Amram’s 1971 double LP for RCA Victor (rereleased on CD by Rounder) gave this program its name. The title? No more walls.

So thank you, David Amram. May you flourish for many more years.