The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964-1968)
A series known for it’s progressive music, largely due to the influence of Jerry Goldsmith’s work on the theme and several episodes, it is little wonder that major names in the business were sought to score specific teleplays. Besides Goldsmith, some of the major names included Morton Stevens, Lalo Schifrin, Walter Scharf, Gerald Fried, Robert Drasnin, Richard Shores and Nelson Riddle. But like the story lines in U.N.C.L.E. episodes, it didn’t always go as planned.
Considered by many as one of the greatest arrangers in the history of American popular music, Nelson Riddle scored only one two-part episode, “The Concrete Overcoat Affair.” Riddle’s music was so detested by producer Norman Felton that he never was hired again to compose for the series.
In other interesting trivia, originally co-creator Sam Rolfe wanted to leave the meaning of U.N.C.L.E. undefined, so the viewer could imagine it might refer to or the “United Nations,” or “Uncle Sam.” The MGM legal department, itself an acronym, expressed concern over using “U.N.” for commercial purposes, so the producers simply invented a name. Hence, U.N.C.L.E. became an acronym for the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.
Acronyms were very important to this spy thriller series. T.H.R.U.S.H. was the villain organization that U.N.C.L.E. battled against. But, luckily, the musically inspired Every Good Boy Does Fine Always never quite caught on. The Man from E.G.B.D.F.A. just doesn’t have the right ring.
After the firing famous composer Alex North, due to the pilot episode going over budget, Dominic Frontiere was hired to write the series theme and music library for ABC’s The Rat Patrol. Rather than specific episodes, producers would use music from a library to score each episode. Love themes, action sequences and the like were composed for ease in interchangeability and reuse. It is perhaps somewhat ironic that given the plot of the show (battling Germany in North Africa during WWII), the music was recorded by the Graunke Symphony Orchestra, the forerunner of the Munich Symphony Orchestra (Münchner Symphoniker). Founded by conductor Kurt Graunke in 1945, the orchestra has recorded music for over 500 films, including George Bruns’ adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s ballet score for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, El Cid by Miklos Rozsa, Jerry Goldsmith’s score for The Wind and the Lion, and Howard Shore’s score for The Silence of the Lambs. Besides the Rat Patrol, the orchestra recorded the scores to a number of episodes for television series as well.
Budget worries for the series extended beyond music needs. As a leverage tool against the actors asking for raises, each major cast member was, after the first season, shown a separate prospective script in which he was killed in action.
The Flintstones (1960-1966)
The familiar theme song, “Meet the Flintstones,” was not heard until Episode 3 of Season 3. Composed by Hoyt Curtin, it was recorded with a 22-piece jazz band, and a five-voice singing group known as the Skip Jacks. The melody is possibly derived from (or at the least resembles) the ‘B’ section from the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 17.
Today in WMH: 1744–Marianne von Martines (also Marianne von Martinez) is born in Vienna. Of Spanish descent, she was an important figure in Austrian musical society. A well-placed family friend arranged for the young Marianne to take keyboard lessons from Franz Joseph Haydn. She also studied voice with Porpora while Haydn, himself, accompanied on the harpsichord. She performed both on keyboard and voice as a child at the Imperial court, and was a favorite of Empress Maria Theresa.
She also studied composition with Hasse and Bonno. Her surviving works include 2 oratorios, 4 masses, 6 motets, several cantats, 3 keyboard sonatas, 1 keyboard concerto and 1 symphony. We will never know the complete catalogue of her works, however, due to a fire that destroyed most of the manuscripts in 1927. Her works were so well regarded in her day that some suggest that Mozart’s Mass K. 139 was influenced by her works.
In later life, she became a patron of the arts, hosting musical parties along with her sister. Haydn and Mozart were known to have attended these events. Her status as a musician was ever complicated by the expectations of society and a woman’s place within the social strata. Though she was known as a composer and performer, she did not seek employment or a career in music. Though lauded in her day, after her death she was nearly forgotten.
Here is an example of her work. It’s worth discovering again!
Today in WMH:, 1943, American Composer, Henry Cowell abandons his experimental music style to compose “American Melting Pot.” Along with his earlier “Old American Country Set” (1937-39) this music was composed to evoke the music of various immigrant groups as well as a nostalgia of the time he spent as a youth with relatives in Kansas. The tunes were not actual folk music, but composed with the recollection of music he heard as a boy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OTqdj1uL5A
Photo: Henry Cowell as a Young Man, Source, Wikipedia
12/4 Today in Weird Music History: 1927. Duke Ellington and his band are scheduled to open at the Cotton Club in Harlem but still have another week left under contract in Philadelphia. The Cotton Club sends a couple of helpful gents named Boo-Boo Hoff and Yankee Schwartz who deliver a message to the club owner in Philly: “Be big. Be big or you’ll be dead.” The Philly owner got the message. Duke and his band open as scheduled in NYC on this day in 1927.