I sat near the back with a program folded in my joined hands as composer Jerry Goldsmith took his position before the symphony to a polite flutter of applause. I wore the same dress I’d wear months later to my high school graduation. Ruffles on the cap sleeves, tiny cloth-covered buttons, narrow all the way down. An idea of adulthood I’d squeezed into too soon. Most likely I hadn’t told my friends I was here, but I would be clearing a special place amongst all the rock-concert ticket stubs in my scrapbook to add this one.
I’ve always had a thing for instrumental scores. My little sister and I used to sit in front of the television as our cassette player recorded opening themes straining through the little grate of speakers. As soon as the “stop” button clacked under my fingertip, we’d plan our accompanying dance routine. At our cousins’ house, we’d act out impromptu plays to Hatari’s “Baby Elephant Walk” or “Moon River” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I knew the Somewhere in Time pieces so well my fingers could tap them out on a tabletop. In my mind, I was a virtuoso on piano. In reality, I plunked through selections from The Sting like someone struggling against a current.
But it wasn’t until Goldsmith’s white hair bounced in and out of his shirt collar in sync with the rhythm of his hands in a blur as Patton played that I considered the composer of a score instead of merely its respective film. It wasn’t until then that I made a point of learning who was who. Now when the names of the likes of Rachel Portman, James Newton Howard, or Michael Giachhino are read on Oscar night I pay attention with a restrained fervor befitting a narrow, button-up dress.
And the nominees are ….
Read more, including reviews of this years’ nominations for best original score, right here.