John William's film Scores: did He "Borrow"?

I just picjked up a great CD -“THE SEA HAWK”-the film scores of E.W. Korngold. This is a great disc-it contains a lot of Korngold’s scores, for movies from the 1930’s and 40’s (The Sea Hawk, Juarez, Anthony Adverse. Great music! at any rate, the fianle of the score for the “The Sea Hawk” sounds an awful lot like the finale from “star wars”!
Did John Williams “borrow” from Korngold’s score? If so, shouldn’t he have given credit to korngold?
Is this sort of theing common in Hollywood?
If williams at least acknowledged Korngold’s work, I suppose it would be OK-but if not, isn’t this pretty sleazy?:confused:

Huh. I assumed this thread would be about Holst’s “Mars, Bringer of War.”

Korngold was specifically what Lucas had in mind when he hired John Williams. I recall hearing Lucas explain on a “Extra Features!” section how he wanted a Korngold-style orchestral score.

I don’t know about Korngold, but the Star Wars score blatantly rips off bits from Ralph Vaughn Williams.

Before the score was written, the was an early print made with various “found” music, intended to be evocative of the mood. (eg; Holst’s “Mars” from The Planets was used as Vader’s theme.) It went down like that all down the line.

Listen o the theme from 1942’s King’s Row by Korngold and you’ll think you’re listening to the Star Wars title theme soundtrack. Many of my friends have been fooled by it.

Mr. Williams did a good job.

Korngold’s score for The Adventures of Robin Hood is one of the alltime greatest scores ever.

That’s standard practice for directors. The score from 2001 is what Kubrick picked out to give the composer an idea for the music style he wanted for the movie. Said composer composed a score, which was recorded. When Kubrick heard it, however, he preferred his own selection over the original score and went with that. (Supposedly, one of the studio execs noticed that Kubrick wanted to use The Blue Danube and told Kubrick that this wasn’t a good choice, since it was apparently the default roll that came with every player piano and that everyone would associate the music with that, and not the movie. Kubrick told the exec words to the effect of, “Not once they see the movie, they won’t.”) Embarrassingly, nobody told the composer that they’d decided to ditch his music, and he didn’t discover it until he sat down to watch the movie at the premiere. Having heard the original score for the film, I have to say that Kubrick made the right choice.

Williams is pretty much a “thief,” however, in that most of the stuff he composes for films is heavily cribbed from works in the public domain. IIRC, the throbbing note in Jaws comes from a Bach piece. (Don’t remember what it is or exactly who composed it, but when you hear the piece, you instantly realize that’s where Williams’ got it.) Mind you, Williams greatly expanded upon the work that he borrowed it from, so he’s not a complete cribber, but if you’ve got a copy of Holst’s Mars, Bringer of War, you basically have 99% of the Star Wars soundtrack.

Even the Cantina theme is ripped from someone else, with the difference being that the original was not performed on oil drums.

Um… maybe Bach? :wink:

But look, the Star Wars thing is the same story as 2001. George Lucas was originally going to have Williams arrange “The Planets” to fit the scenes instead of composing new music. Williams said “Look, I can compose something just like it and be original at the same time”, and he did. I’m not saying he doesn’t borrow heavily, because he does. But personally I think the Star Wars thing is a bad example.

The story behind it is even better, and well worthy of its own movie. The Jewish Korngold, a child prodigy and well-respected classical composer in his own right, was in Hollywood in 1938 writing the Robin Hood score when the Anschluss happened and the Nazis annexed Austria: he reckoned later that the film saved his life. He managed to get his family out on the last train from Vienna, and became an exile in America, using his film earnings to help support other refugees. He also gave up composing classical music until Hitler was defeated: sadly, his Wagnerian style had fallen out of favour in the intervening years, and his return to his homeland was a relative failure.

See the “Robin Hood” DVD extras {the best DVD extras ever, actually}, for the full, fascinating and improbable story.

Is he the model for one of the characters in Branagh’s Dead Again? Its been a while since I’ve seen the film, but a couple of the characters are thinly veiled references to actual Hollywood figures from the 1940s.

Also, I’d say Williams’ score for The Cowboys borrows heavily from Aaron Copland. (Though the best music in the film is a famous Vivaldi piece on guitar; lovely little scene, really.)

Danny Elfman tends to steal more from Leonard Bernstein.

Dvorak’s New World Symphony, perhaps?

Don’t think that’s it (but I didn’t listen to the whole thing), but in the piece I’m thinking of, there’s the deep cello notes that just appear in about the middle of it, not at the beginning. Certainly, however, it sounds like Dvorak’s piece had an influence.

What about “My Woman” from the 1930s?

When it comes to music, what is new. A couple centuries of music has made everything derivative.

When I was in University, we used to get drunk and play “spot the quote” from John William’s soundtracks… Debussy, Vaughn Williams, Delius, there’s lot of stuff where you find yourself thinking "Did he change any of the notes or what?

“Jaws” is just like the Black God movement from Prokoffiev’s “Scythian Suite” slowed down.

Suddenly the White Town song sample (“Your Woman”) makes sense.

standing on a beach - oh look, here comes the last wave.

Hyperbole is one thing, but this is a bit much.

I’m very familiar with Holst’s Planets Suite – The Hayden Planetarium in New York used it all the time to give each planet a signature theme. Plus I’ve got several different recordings of this and other Holst works that I listen to all the time. There’s a world of difference there, folks. If you really do think Williams directly ripps off Holst, you have a defective musical education.