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The Hollywood Film Music Reader

Edited by Mervyn Cooke

Publication Date - 01 September 2010

ISBN: 9780195331189

392 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


A rich and informative look at the experiences of composers working under high pressure in the US film industry, The Hollywood Film Music Reader brings readers from film's earliest days to the modern blockbuster era. Beginning with the origins of movie music in the heyday of silent film, the book traces film music's progress through Hollywood's so-called Golden Age to changes in musical styles and working practices from the 1960s to the present. Also included are vivid first-hand accounts from composers such as George Antheil, Elmer Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Adolph Deutsch, Jerry Goldsmith, Bernard Herrmann, Henry Mancini, Thomas Newman, André Previn, David Raksin, Miklós Rózsa, Max Steiner, Dimitri Tiomkin, Franz Waxman, and John Williams, along with testimonies from composers working in animation and documentary film. The book concludes with a section of criticism and commentary, including an essay on film music by Sidney Lumet and Igor Stravinsky's provocative views on the subject.


  • Expert introductions contextualize writings within the history and theory of film music
  • A fascinating compendium of both well-known and difficult to find or out-of-print texts from across the twentieth century
  • Features first-hand accounts by leading composers along with writings of critics and commentators

About the Author(s)

Mervyn Cooke is Professor of Music at the University of Nottingham. His many books include monographs and edited volumes on the music of Benjamin Britten, jazz, twentieth-century opera, and film music.


"Richly fulfills its mission to serve as a 'comprehensive collection of (often firsthand) accounts of working practices in the American film industry from the silent era to the modern blockbuster age '. [This book] offers a good overview of American film music under the banner of Hollywood not only through exemplary texts but above all through the insightful introductions by the volume editor." --Lied und populäre Kultur [Song and Popular Culture]

"There is much good reading and valuable references in this 382-page book. I certainly recommend the Hollywood Film Music Reader to any and all who have an interest in the music of our time, and not simply the one corner of music covered so well in these pages." --Barry L. Cohen, New Music Connoisseur

"The Hollywood Film Music Reader is a wonderful cross section of articles by film music's most significant practitioners, both present and past. With many of these articles long since out of print, this volume is a valuable addition to the current literature on the subject."-Roy Prendergast, author of Film Music: A Neglected Art

"Cooke extracts essential flavors from a century of writing on music for films, and has served them up with lively and knowledgeable introductions. It is a pleasure to see these texts newly published and available, giving readers a history and theory of the art of film music written by those who created and debated it."-Claudia Gorbman, Professor of Film Studies, University of Washington Tacoma, and author of Unheard Melodies: Narrative Film Music

"An important addition to the shelf of any serious scholar or enthusiast of Hollywood film scoring. Cooke has gathered in one place previously out of print and difficult to access writings from film composers themselves, covering the period from silent film to the present. What a joy to get to know these composers through their own words. Sometimes witty and urbane, sometimes jaded and bitter, and always interesting, the composers represented here offer a range of insights into film composing as an art and as a business. Cooke's insightful introductions provide the launching pad for this fascinating collection."-Kathryn Kalinak, Rhode Island College

"[Mervyn Cooke] has done superlative work here collecting so much valuable written material and he has written succinct introductions to each entry in the collection...The Hollywood Film Music Reader is a highly recommended book for anyone who wishes to read an outstanding sampling of "lively and often entertaining" writings by some of the best composers and critics to ever work in or write about Hollywood film music." --Film Music Review

"The Hollywood Film Music Reader deserves a place on every music lover's bookshelf and makes the perfect holiday gift for anyone interested in music heard in movies, from the casual moviegoer to a rabid soundtrack fan. The Reader can be enjoyed by someone with no previous knowledge of the subject and yet would also serve well as supplementary reading and fodder for discussion for any college-level historical survey on film music." --DimitriTiomkin.com

"An invaluable resource...Anyone with an interest in film music, whether as general reader or serious scholar, should find it illuminating." --Times Literary Supplement

"A welcome addition to the steadily growing literature on Hollywood film music hostiry and criticism." --Second Page/Planman

"[P]resent[s] fascinating views of what music composers, producers, performers, critics, and scholars thought and wrote about this lively art from 1910 to 2010...can be used very productively as reference works for general readers and specialists, and as teaching materials for courses on film music."--Journal of the Society for American Music

Table of Contents

    I From 'Silents' to Sound
    1. Max Winkler: 'The Origins of Film Music'
    2. T. Scott Buhrman: 'Photoplays De Luxe'
    3. Ernö Rapée: 'Musical Accompaniment to the Feature Picture'
    4. An Interview with Gaylord Carter, 'Dean of Theater Organists'
    5. Leonid Sabaneev: 'The Composition of Music for the Cinema'
    II Film Composers in Their Own Words
    6. Max Steiner: 'Scoring the Film'
    7. David Raksin: 'Life With Charlie'
    8. Aaron Copland: 'Our New Music'
    9. Ingolf Dahl: 'Notes on Cartoon Music'
    10. Scott Bradley: 'Personality on the Soundtrack'
    11. Conversations with Carl Stalling
    12. Dimitri Tiomkin: 'Please Don't Hate Me!'
    13. A Radio Interview with Franz Waxman
    14. Gail Kubik: 'Music in Documentary Films'
    15. Adolph Deutsch on Three Strangers
    16. Miklós Rózsa on Quo Vadis
    17. André Previn: 'No Minor Chords'
    18. Henry Mancini: 'Did They Mention the Music?'
    19. Bernard Herrmann: A Lecture on Film Music
    20. A Conversation with Jerry Goldsmith
    21. John Williams and Star Wars
    22. Thomas Newman on his Film Music
    III Critics and Commentators
    23. George Antheil: 'I Am Not a Businessman'
    24. Igor Stravinsky on Film Music
    25. David Raksin: 'Hollywood Strikes Back'
    26. Theodor Adorno and Hanns Eisler: 'Composing for the Films'
    27. Frederick W. Sternfeld on Hugo Friedhofer's The Best Years of Our Lives
    28. Aaron Copland in the Film Studio
    29. Lawrence Morton: 'Composing, Orchestrating, and Criticizing'
    30. Elmer Bernstein: 'Film Composers vs. The Studios'
    31. Sidney Lumet: A Director's Viewpoint