Picard Of The Pops: Cliff Eidelman

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Chris Morley discovers...

Stepping now into The Undiscovered Country, we find director & classical music enthusiast Nicholas Meyer having to compromise. He wants to adapt Holst's The Planets, but that's vetoed as too expensive for his purposes. So he mulls it over. Deciding he now wants something that matches Stravinsky's The Firebird, he begins to invite submissions of demo tapes by any composers considering themselves up to the job.

The man who gets the gig is Cliff Eidelman, then a 26 year old with no breakthrough in movies even after a total of fourteen scores & a not inconsiderable body of work also spanning television & ballet.

Of course, Meyer had previous with Trek, having helmed The Wrath Of Khan. He was never much of a fan, mind!
"I’ve never watched Star Trek. I don’t even know what that is. It’s a guy with pointy ears, yeah?"
Which could be seen as a good thing. Writing in his book The View From The Bridge, he said,
“Far from being sacrosanct, I was of the opinion that Star Trek could stand some fixing.”
And fix it he did, even down to the music.

A key cog in that was Eidelman, and an interview with Musik Heute of Germany can shed more light. A keen sense of a good tune was his from an early age, the first records he recalls being given by Beethoven & the Beatles. Prog rock quickly joined them after he formed his first band!
"Over time, his compositions for the rock band became more complex and headed toward progressive rock, influenced by Yes, Pink Floyd and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. One day he heard Stravinsky’s Le sacre du printemps, which he was “really blown away by”, as he says.

From around that time he began to immerse himself into classical composition listening to Beethoven, Prokofiev, Copland among many others and by studying their scores, he began learning to write music for orchestra. “I started to lose interest in the rock music, because with only four or five musicians I could not play all the music I heard in my head,”"
His first such full work was a ballet.
“I was able to do a certain amount of orchestration on the work from what I had learned on my own and from my previous experience studying a few orchestration books but I knew I needed to learn more deeply the art of orchestration, so I took private lessons with Steven Bernstein and learned how to orchestrate by using my ballet as material.

It also helped to study Beethoven symphonies, Ravel’s ‘Daphnis and Chloe’. Thus I got an idea of how to blend sounds and instruments together.”
Which would impress Meyer.
"When he heard my music, a smile appeared on his face. He realized that I had understood him."
And film editor Ron Roose would hail the finished work.
“The thing about Star Trek VI that I find very important, was the music. Music is (…) not just the score, not just notes, but a voice. And if it’s done correctly, that’s exactly what it is: a new voice that comes into the film.”

Having heard Clear All Moorings, one Leonard Nimoy was also impressed.
"He smiled and said: ‘This is really good’"
Spock's portrayer's importance was not lost on Cliff either!
“This was a great feeling: This man, who was at the very beginning of this series, told me that he liked my work. Probably this helped me not to feel the burden or nervousness.”
Praise indeed!

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