Classical KUSC Blog

February 2, 2011

A Master of the Art (Rebroadcast)

Filed under: From the Program Director — classicalkusc @ 12:33 am

This program originally aired on Sunday, December 26, 2010.

Elmer Bernstein

Due to popular demand, KUSC will rebroadcast a two-hour special produced by Jon Burlingame this Sunday morning, Feb. 6 at 11am. The program is called Cast a Giant Shadow: The Music of Elmer Bernstein, and you can hear an excerpt here:

The “hook” was the 50th anniversary of Bernstein’s most famous movie score: The Magnificent Seven. But we really just wanted an excuse to honor this brilliant and amazingly prolific composer, who taught for nearly a decade at the USC Thornton School of Music, and whose entire personal archive is at the USC Cinema-Television Library.

I’m not exaggerating when I say the program was literally generated by popular demand; Jon gets copious amounts of fan mail following every one of his previous film music specials.

Jon is not only a preeminent film music historian, who writes for Variety and other publications; he’s also a great broadcaster. Our technical director, Mark Hatwan, and I look forward with great joy to each of our collaborations with Jon.

The program features excerpts from many of Bernstein’s 150 (!) film scores, t-v themes, and concert works, as well as interviews conducted with Bernstein himself, discussing his approach to his craft and the specific challenges he faced with many of his scores. Rarely heard, out-of-print recordings are also be featured.

In addition to the classic Western music of The Magnificent Seven (1960), Elmer Bernstein wrote the groundbreaking jazz score for The Man With the Golden Arm (1955), the epic orchestral The Ten Commandments (1956), the poignant To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), the jaunty war march of The Great Escape (1963) and another Western classic in True Grit (1969). Later in his career, he scored more lighthearted music for zany comedies including National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978) and Ghostbusters (1984). During his last 15 years in films he was a frequent collaborator with director Martin Scorsese (The Age of Innocence) and such younger directors as Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven). For that magnificent sweeping score, Bernstein picked up his 14th Oscar nomination. (He won just once, for 1967’s Thoroughly Modern Millie. )

If you’re a film music buff, or even if you’re not, I think you’ll truly enjoy this wonderful tribute.

~ Gail Eichenthal


  1. I LOVE movie soundtracks and this man is one of my favorites.
    Wish I could write music like he.
    Good listening to you all.

    Comment by Jerry — February 5, 2011 @ 9:06 am | Reply

  2. Is it possible to download this show to my i-pod? Nothing says “an hour on the eliptical” like Elmer Bernstein!

    Comment by Michael Strockbine — February 6, 2011 @ 11:43 am | Reply

    • Due to various music licensing issues, we cannot offer it as a podcast, but we are impressed that you can spend an entire hour on an elliptical.

      Comment by classicalkusc — March 2, 2011 @ 2:45 pm | Reply

  3. Thanks for rebroadcasting this! My sister and I turned on the radio…and we were so excited to hear Bernstein’s music.

    Comment by Roxy Garcia — February 6, 2011 @ 12:32 pm | Reply

  4. Elmer Bernstein has cost me a lot of money over the years, as his music is what got me interested in film scores. I owe him a lot for that, and I’ll always be grateful to him for it.

    Comment by Mickey Fisher — February 6, 2011 @ 12:32 pm | Reply

  5. Thank You again!

    I waited all week to hear this in it from beginning to end. Another reason why I am a subscribing member of this station.

    As always Jeanne

    Comment by Ileana Jeanne Lytton — February 6, 2011 @ 1:23 pm | Reply

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