Symphony Nights for Cinephiles
by greg stepanich
Marturet conducting the orchestra during a dress rehearsal
As a 5-year-old boy growing up without a TV in Caracas in the 1950s, Eduardo Marturet watched cartoons on film through a home projector, and they played out in silence. “I made my own music [in my head]. My ear couldn’t cope with the silence,” says the future film composer.
This month, Marturet will compensate for the days of interior soundtracks when he conducts his Miami Symphony Orchestra in “Golden Sounds from Hollywood,” a program featuring pieces written for the movies, as well as three classical works borrowed prominently for celluloid fantasies.
The concert opens with Richard Strauss’s prelude to his 1896 tone poem “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” one of the most familiar two minutes in music history thanks to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. A sizable portion of the program will feature John Williams’s music from Star Wars, E.T., Schindler’s List, and Sabrina. Also included is a piece of post-Romantic writing composed for Roland Joffé’s epic The Mission by the Italian Ennio Morricone (known for music in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Cinema Paradiso). Another eminent Italian film composer, Nino Rota (Romeo and Juliet and The Godfather), will be represented in a suite of dances from his score for Il Gattopardo.
Orchestras giving concerts of movie music seems to be a recent phenomenon. However, Paul Chihara, a respected classical composer and professor at UCLA, who is responsible for scores for more than 100 movies and TV shows, says, “The idea of music being an accompaniment to [film] was really necessary because a stationary point of view in the dark is not a pleasant experience. After a few minutes, you get bored and sleepy. Music was always there—first to mask the sound [from the projector], but most important to add emotion and excitement.” He continues, “Music adds a tempo that’s different from the tempo of the visual cutting or the action within the picture itself, so you have a counterpoint between the tempo of the music and the tempo of the visuals.”
Often the soundtrack is as important as the show. “The music for Gladiator was appreciated by many more people than saw the movie,” Chihara says. And composers such as Hans Zimmer (Gladiator) and Danny Elfman (the Batman franchise) are signed on for their box-office draw as much as the actors.
While the Miami Symphony Orchestra program will be accompanied by images from the films, Marturet offers, “What is a successful film score? It’s something that is linked to the movie, but it can live outside the movie—like with Sabrina. It’s so beautiful; it works. You don’t need the image.”
The Miami Symphony Orchestra plays “Golden Sounds from Hollywood” at 8 pm Saturday, December 15, at the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center in Miami, and at 8 p.m. Sunday, December 16, at the New World Center in Miami Beach. Tickets are $20–$65 Saturday, $30–$115 Sunday. Call 305-275-5666 for more information.
photography by eduardo segovia