Movie music composer Randy Edelman said he’s jet-lagged, but even if it’s
slowing him down, he still has more energy than almost anybody you’re likely to
Edelman is in Israel to participate in the 12th Tel Aviv-Los
Angeles Master Class Workshop, sponsored by the Los Angeles Jewish Federation,
and held at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque in mid June.
The program brings
together filmmakers and students from the two cities and features
students from both countries given by a host of Hollywood
This year there is a special focus on film professionals
who work on the music in movies. Edelman, a musician, composer,
music supervisor, has worked on such recent movies as The Mummy 3, Leap
and Beethoven’s Big Break, and as well as The Mask, Kindergarten Cop, My
Vinny and literally dozens of others. Other movie music-makers
this year are David Renzer, the head of Universal’s music division; Doug
who headed the music division at Warner Bros.; and Steve Schnur, the
executive for music and marketing for Electronic Arts (EA), the largest
game producer in the world.
Edelman says there is a special type of
musician who is good at working in movies. “You have to be a great
is flexible and versatile,” he says.
“You have to do it fast and right.
If you can do it one of those ways, but not the other, it won’t
Edelman is riveting as he describes the way he works on the score
of a film. “The last person to make a contribution to a movie is the
he says. “When everyone else is done, you’re alone with the movie.
you really get into it. There are these moments late at night when you
with something you really like. Those are the most exciting moments,
alone with it.”
Normally, he has between two weeks and two months to
compose a score for a film. “You’ve got to quickly translate what you
see on the
screen into something musical... You have to work fast, the adrenaline
has to be
flowing,” says Edelman, who has been working on movies for about 20
A TRADITIONALLY trained classical pianist, Edelman was raised in
New Jersey and studied at the Cincinnati Music Conservatory. But even as
student, he veered out of the traditional music-student trajectory and
writing orchestrations and conducting music for King Records, the
Cincinnati-based company – known for its R&B hits – that produced
Brown. Edelman has had many different jobs in music, from playing in
shows to conducting in Las Vegas. He also wrote pop songs and made an
album in the ’70s. The album was heard by the immensely popular duo The
Carpenters, who chose Edelman to be their opening act.
“I had never
played my music and sung in front of an audience before,” he says.
here I was, playing these stadium concerts. I was just a guy no one
knew,” so he
didn’t really feel pressure.
Edelman also wrote songs for wellknown pop
stars. Barry Manilow had a hit with Edelman’s “Weekend in New England,”
songs were also recorded by Olivia Newton-John, Patti LaBelle, Bing
and the Gang, and, more recently, hip-hop artist Nelly, who had a #1 hit
Billboard rap chart with Edelman’s “My Place.” Offers to compose music
television came his way, and he wrote for the series Mac- Gyver among
others, including NBC’s NFL Football theme.
The chance to write for
movies was “liberating,” he says. “Film scoring is very creative. I felt
as a musician, I had gone as far as I could go with threeminute songs.
film, you can write whatever you want to enhance the scene.”
ASPECT of writing movie scores Edelman particularly enjoys is that
been tremendous use of the music that I’ve written for films” in other
Music he wrote for the film DragonHeart has been used in the opening and
ceremonies of the Olympics games. A number of ice skaters have also used
Edelman’s music in their Olympic routines. “People do go out of the
humming my music,” he says.
Of course, in a collaborative medium like
film, there are surprises, and not always pleasant ones. In the recent
film, Leap Year, his music was changed beyond recognition. “You have to
to deal with that emotionally,” he says.
It helps Edelman, however, that
the soundtrack albums from his films are released with the music just as
wrote it. He tells of how composer Leonard Bernstein was devastated when
music he wrote for On the Waterfront was changed.
“Bernstein never wrote
another film score again,” Edelman says. But he’s far more flexible. “If
percent of the music is the way you want it to be in the movie, than