Soundtrack Maestro Podcast: from blank page to iconic soundtrack

Podcast 21 Oct 2020
Always wanted to read the thoughts of film composers? Now is your chance: listen to Soundtrack Maestro - our podcast made together with Radio 1 - in which Annelies Moons and FFG music director Dirk Brossé interview four world-renowned film composers, in honour of the twentieth anniversary of the World Soundtrack Awards. Get to know the secrets of these musicians, discover the petites histoires behind their greatest works and follow their journey from blank page to iconic soundtrack.

Gabriel Yared

The Lebanese-French composer Gabriel Yared has been a prominent presence in the film music industry since the 1980s. Over the decades he has built an impressive oeuvre. Yared's name was on the credits in fims by a.o. Jean-Jacques Beinex, Robert Altman, Bruno Nuytten, Paul Schrader, Costa-Gavras, Michel Ocelot, Angelina Jolie, John Schlesinger, Xavier Dolan and - at the very start - Jean-Luc Godard. Yet, he is most known for his collaborations with Anthony Minghella, providing the music for Oscar-nominated films The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley and Cold Mountain.

Gabriel Yared was the very first central guest of the World Soundtrack Awards, back in 2001. In 2020, the twentieth anniversary of the WSA, he is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. No wonder the composer considers the WSA family. "It's beautiful to see how it has grown. From something small at the very beginning, to something with an enormous impact on the world of film music. Also for composers, young and old. For some it's a stepping-stone, others connect with people from the film music business. If you are looking for a career in film music, this is the place."

He seldomly refers to it, but for our podcast Yared addressed the biggest disappointment of his career. He spent 18 months working on the score of the spectacular Hollywood production Troy. Until an audience at an American test screening deemed the music "too complicated, too beautiful, too European, too sophisticated", and producers went looking for a replacement for Yared.

Patrick Doyle

From Bridget Jones's Diary, over Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Thor, to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Brave and Murder on the Orient Express. Few film composers are as versatile as Scottish two-time Oscar nominee Patrick Doyle. His breakthrough came in 1989 thanks to the music for Shakespeare adaptation Henry V by Kenneth Branagh. "My collaboration with Kenneth for Henry V has changed everything", Doyle tells us. "It was the first time I wrote a score for such a big project. I used every instinct I had and found necessary for the film." Branagh and Doyle have been inseperable creative partners ever since. They worked together on Dead Again, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Hamlet, Thor and the Hercule Poirot adventures Murder on the Orient Express and the yet to be released Death on the Nile.

But Doyle also had other succesful partnerships with iconic directors such as Robert Altman, Ang Lee, Brian De Palma, Alfonso Cuaron, Mike Newell and Regis Wagnier. In 2012 he wrote the score for Brave, the Pixar animation film about a red-haired Scottish princess who loves nature more than she does her throne. Doyle returned to his own Scottish roots and mixed western and Celtic music. It led to a magical soundtrack that perfectly matched the mythical world of Brave. Patrick Doyle is no stranger to the WSA. The World Soundtrack Academy heralded him with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.

Elliot Goldenthal

If Dirk Brossé calls you "one of the most gifted American film composers", then you are for sure the real deal. Elliot Goldenthal's distinctive style - combining both tonal and atonal harmony - earned him a spot amongst the greatest film music maestros. Audiences may know him from scores for exuberant Hollywood spectacles such as Batman Forever, Final Fantasy, the unforgettable Interview with the Vampire and Michael Mann's mob drama Public Enemies. But whether scoring a battle scene from Alien 3 or scoring the story of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, Goldenthal always brings his passion and intelligence to the recording studio.

He has formed a creative duo with his partner Julie Taymor multiple times. Goldenthal calls Titus their most unique collaboration. Even though the two often work togehter, the process is different each time. "You never walk through the same river twice. Every time it's a new experience with new challenges." You can also catch the duo in this year's FFG programme, more specifically in The Glorias, an unconventional biopic about Gloria Steinem. Goldenthal won the World Soundtrack Film Composer of the Year Award in 2003, for his music in Frida, for which he also received an Oscar. In 2011 he was one of the central guests of the gala.

Shigeru Umebayashi

From Japanese pop to visceral film music. Shigeru Umebayashi is the composer of masterpieces as The House of the Flying Daggers, In the Mood for Love and 2046. He has become the most important Japanese film composer. However, it could have gone entirely different: Umebayashi rather liked his life as a bend member of 'Ex'. Annelies and Dirk had the chance to talk to him and could call him 'Ume'.