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Herman Stein dies: you may not know the name, but you probably know his music

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Herman Stein dies: you may not know the name, but you probably know his music

Old 03-24-07, 09:10 AM
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Herman Stein dies: you may not know the name, but you probably know his music

I didn't recognize the name myself, even though several of these are movies that I watch almost every year - in fact I just watched "Creature From The Black Lagoon" again last week!

from NY Times - March 24, 2007

Herman Stein, a little-known craftsman who, unseen but very much heard, helped terrify the audiences of a spate of classic horror and science-fiction films, died on March 15 at his home in Los Angeles. Mr. Stein, a former staff composer at the Universal studio in Hollywood, was 91.

The cause was congestive heart failure, said David Schecter, a record producer who runs the Web site Monstrous Movie Music (www.mmmrecordings.com).
A largely self-taught composer, Mr. Stein contributed to the scores of nearly 200 films, including westerns, comedies and dramas. Though he labored in relative obscurity, he became known in particular -- if only to an ardent cult following -- for his work on dozens of movies featuring little green men, big hairy things and oceans of primordial ooze.
Among his best-known films are "It Came From Outer Space" (1953), "Creature From the Black Lagoon" (1954), "This Island Earth" (1955), "Tarantula" (1955) and "The Incredible Shrinking Man" (1957).
"Herman Stein was one of the architects of the sound of 1950s science-fiction movies," Jon Burlingame, who teaches film-music history at the University of Southern California, said in a telephone interview yesterday.
But if there was honor in being the Mozart of "The Mole People" (1956), there was little glory. At Universal, several composers typically worked on a single picture. (Mr. Stein's frequent collaborators included Henry Mancini.) On most of the studio's films, only the music supervisor, Joseph Gershenson, received on-screen credit.
In many of these films, though, Mr. Stein's work formed the bedrock of the score. "He either wrote the main themes, from which he and his colleagues worked, or, equally important, wrote the opening music, which often sets the tone for the film itself," Mr. Burlingame said.
Mr. Stein's best-known musical passage is probably the jittery, ascending three-note "creature theme" from "Creature From the Black Lagoon." Played by shrill trumpets, it recurs more than 100 times on the film's soundtrack, heralding the monster's appearances. (abridged)
Old 03-24-07, 09:36 AM
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That's too bad. I love those old sci-fi flicks.

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