Monday, March 30, 2015

Another Elmer Bernstein Homage to Aaron Copland Discovered! (Recording, Photos)


A youngish Aaron Copland—such pictures are rare on the Web—from roughly the period in which he composed Billy the Kid (1938)

Elmer Bernstein from the period in which he composed the score to The Shootist

By Nicholas Stix

The Shootist (1976) was John Wayne’s swan song, and a fitting one it was.

Elmer Bernstein did the music, and while the opening is nice, it’s not top drawer Bernstein. There’s just not enough quality or quantity, and some of it is cannibalized from his score to To Kill a Mockingbird.

The passage below is the best part with, as protagonist J.B. Books says during it, “A little somethin’ extra.”

Bernstein composed several homages to Copland. One, during Mockingbird, evokes Copland’s Rodeo, and lasts only a second or two, while one child rolls another, sitting inside an old truck tire. The most elaborate and original homage, is Bernstein’s long version of his National Geographic Theme, which honors Copland’s greatest work, Appalachian Spring.

There is no homage to Copland that I’m aware of in the actual movie score to The Shootist (yes, I checked), and this one is atypical in its lack of originality. Bernstein added it to this particular recording, beginning about 3:02, and it is the music from the end of the first movement to Copland’s Billy the Kid, which my chief of research played for me last (Saturday) night, to confirm.

The Shootist: Main Title


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