Lalo Schifrin

Composer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his one-and-a-half hour interview, Lalo Schifrin talks about his early musical influences and studies, including his years in Paris studying with noted composer Olivier Messiaen. He speaks about coming to the United States and working with famed jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie— joining his band and recording numerous LPs with him. He describes his entrance into writing music for television, working under head of Universal's TV music, Stanley Wilson. He comments on some of the early projects he worked on including the series Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre and the television movie See How They Run.  He looks back on the television series for which he is most associated, Mission: Impossible, for which he composed the now world-famous theme music, set against a lit fuse in the memorable opening titles. Among the other series he discusses, for which he scored the theme and episodic music, were Mannix and Medical Center. He then describes his compositions for several notable television documentaries including: The Making of the President: 1964, The Hidden World of Insects, and The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. For the later documentary, he recalls that the dramatic cantata he wrote was later performed at the Hollywood Bowl. He also speaks about his compositions outside of television, and acknowledges that a notable piece from his Cool Hand Luke score was later used as the Eyewitness News theme. Jon Burlingame conducted the interview on October 3, 2008 in Beverly Hills, CA.

"Study harmony, study counterpoint, study orchestration, and all the composition. And not only that, but see a lot of opera. Because if you want to write for film or television, you have to have a sensitivity for what is dramatic."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Lalo Schifrin on the theme song to Mission Impossible
Lalo Schifrin on composing for The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau
Lalo Schifrin on composing music for David Wolper's three-part documentary The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich; on developing a cantata from his score
Lalo Schifrin on composing the theme for Medical Center and using a Moog synthesizer
Lalo Schifrin on differences between scoring documentaries and fictional TV shows
Lalo Schifrin on combining classical music and jazz influences into a single work
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early years and education; on his musical influences; on studying music in Paris; on coming to the United States and working with Dizzy Gillespie; on his first work in motion pictures
On his early television work on Harris Against the World and Bob Hope Presents Chrysler Theatre; on the process of composing music for television; on some of the TV movies and series he worked on, including The Man From U.N.C.L.E and T.H.E. Cat
On composing the themes and music for Mission: Impossible and Mannix; on composing for Bronk and Hunter; on composing the theme music for Paramount Pictures; on his work in documentaries for David Wolper including The Making of the President: 1964 and The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

Chapter 2

On composing for The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, Medical CenterPetrocelli, Starsky and Hutch, Most Wanted, and other TV movies and miniseries
On how part of his composition for the feature film Cool Hand Luke became the theme for local Eyewitness News broadcasts; on composing for Out on a Limb and other TV movies and miniseries; on working with The Three Tenors; on the role of music in a television show and how it elicits an emotional response
On how technology has impacted his work; on the business of composing for film; on his proudest career achievement; on his advice to aspiring composers
Shows

Bob Hope Presents Chrysler Theatre

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Lalo Schifrin on composing for the Chrysler Theatre teleplay "A Clash of Cymbals"
Lalo Schifrin on composing for the Chrysler Theatre teleplay "A Small Rebellion" -- featuring Dizzy Gillespie acapella

Harris Against the World

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Lalo Schifrin on composing music and writing the theme for Harris Against the World

Hunter

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Lalo Schifrin on composing music for the pilot of Hunter

Making of the Presidency, The

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Lalo Schifrin on composing music for David Wolper's documentaries, including The Making of the President: 1964; on the differences of scoring for TV vs. scoring documentaries

Man From U.N.C.L.E., The

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Lalo Schifrin on composing music for several episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E

Mannix

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Lalo Schifrin on Bruce Geller wanting him to compose for Mannix

Medical Center

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Lalo Schifrin on composing the theme for Medical Center and using a Moog synthesizer

Mission: Impossible

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Lalo Schifrin on composing for Mission: Impossible; on his Mission: Impossible theme

National Geographic Specials

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Lalo Schifrin on composing music for the National Geographic special "The Hidden World of Insects"

Out on a Limb

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Lalo Schifrin on composing for the miniseries Out on a Limb

Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, The

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Lalo Schifrin on composing music for David Wolper's three-part documentary The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich; on developing a cantata from his score

See How They Run

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Lalo Schifrin on composing music for the first movie of the week, See How They Run

Starsky and Hutch

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Lalo Schifrin on composing for Starsky and Hutch

Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, The

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Lalo Schifrin on composing for The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau
Topics

Advice

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Lalo Schifrin on advice to an aspiring composer

John F. Kennedy

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Lalo Schifrin on composing music for David Wolper's documentaries, including The Making of the President: 1964; on the differences of scoring for TV vs. scoring documentaries

Pop Culture

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Lalo Schifrin on composing the Mission: Impossible theme
Lalo Schifrin on composing the theme for Medical Center
Lalo Schifrin on how part of his composition for the feature film Cool Hand Luke became the theme for local Eyewitness News broadcasts

TV Theme Songs

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Lalo Schifrin on composing the Mission: Impossible theme
Lalo Schifrin on composing the theme for Medical Center
Lalo Schifrin on how part of his composition for the feature film Cool Hand Luke became the theme for local Eyewitness News broadcasts

Technological Innovation

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Lalo Schifrin on how technology has impacted his work

Television Industry

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Lalo Schifrin on advice to an aspiring composer

Television and the Presidency

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Lalo Schifrin on composing music for David Wolper's documentaries, including The Making of the President: 1964; on the differences of scoring for TV vs. scoring documentaries
Professions

Composer

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Lalo Schifrin on his process for writing music for television; on writing music for Universal and for MGM
Lalo Schifrin on differences between composing for film and television
Lalo Schifrin on his music style
Lalo Schifrin on composing chamber music
Lalo Schifrin on combining classical music and jazz influences into a single work
Lalo Schifrin on the role of music in a television show and how it elicits an emotional response

Music Director

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Lalo Schifrin on being music director for the Paris Philharmonic

Music Professionals

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Lalo Schifrin on his process for writing music for television; on writing music for Universal and for MGM
Lalo Schifrin on differences between scoring documentaries and fictional TV shows
Lalo Schifrin on differences between scoring documentaries and fictional TV shows
Lalo Schifrin on differences between composing for film and television
Lalo Schifrin on his music style
Lalo Schifrin on being music director for the Paris Philharmonic
Lalo Schifrin on the business side of music for television
Lalo Schifrin on composing chamber music
Lalo Schifrin on combining classical music and jazz influences into a single work
Lalo Schifrin on the role of music in a television show and how it elicits an emotional response
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

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Lalo Schifrin on composing the theme and music for T.H.E. Cat, produced and directed by Boris Sagal
Lalo Schifrin on composing the Mission: Impossible theme

News and Documentary

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Lalo Schifrin on composing music for David Wolper's three-part documentary The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich; on developing a cantata from his score
Lalo Schifrin on composing for The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau
People

Elmer Bernstein

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Lalo Schifrin on composer Elmer Bernstein and Mel Stuart being responsible for getting him involved with music for David Wolper's documentaries

Jacques Cousteau

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Lalo Schifrin on composing for The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau

Placido Domingo

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Lalo Schifrin on his collaborations with The Three Tenors

Bruce Geller

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Lalo Schifrin on meeting Bruce Geller and composing for Mission: Impossible; on his Mission: Impossible theme
Lalo Schifrin on Bruce Geller wanting him to compose for Mannix, and at the same time, composing for Braddock

Dizzy Gillespie

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Lalo Schifrin on first meeting Dizzy Gillespie and Quincy Jones and coming to the United States at the request of Dizzy Gillespie; on joining his band
Lalo Schifrin on composing for Chrysler Theatre teleplays
Lalo Schifrin on composing for the Chrysler Theatre teleplay "A Small Rebellion" -- featuring Dizzy Gillespie acapella

Adolph Hitler

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Lalo Schifrin on composing music for David Wolper's three-part documentary The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

Quincy Jones

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Lalo Schifrin on first meeting Dizzy Gillespie and Quincy Jones

Jennings Lang

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Lalo Schifrin on meeting Jennings Lang, father of studio pianist Mike Lang

Bruce Lee

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Lalo Schifrin on a connection between the music of Mission Impossible and Bruce Lee (Schifrin wrote the music for Enter the Dragon)

Shirley MacLaine

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Lalo Schifrin on composing for the miniseries Out on a Limb

Boris Sagal

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Lalo Schifrin on composing the theme and music for T.H.E. Cat, produced and directed by Boris Sagal

Rod Serling

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Lalo Schifrin on composing for the film The Doomsday Flight written by Rod Serling

Aaron Spelling

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Lalo Schifrin on composing for Starsky and Hutch

Mel Stuart

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Lalo Schifrin on composer Elmer Bernstein and Mel Stuart being responsible for getting him involved with music for David Wolper's documentaries

Stanley Wilson

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Lalo Schifrin on meeting Stanley Wilson (the head of Universal's music department) and how he impacted his career

David L. Wolper

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Lalo Schifrin on composing music for David Wolper's three-part documentary The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

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