The great Leonard Rosenman, a two-time Oscar-winning composer who wrote the truly magnificent score for Elia Kazan‘s East of Eden (’55), has passed on at age 83. Roseman also composed the scores for Nicolas Ray‘s Rebel Without a Cause (also ’55) as well as such Pork Chop Hill, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Fantastic Voyage and A Man Called Horse.
Leonard Rosenman; James Dean in “East of Eden”
Listen to the overture and main-title music from his Eden score. Listen especially to the strange psychological spasm music that happens at the 1:01 mark — certainly not melodic, the strings seems to be lurching and cat-scratching rather than singing. Listen also to the Eden theme at 3:40. It sounds, yes, a little pat and schmaltzy, like something off The Little House on the Prairie. But it gets me every time, in part because I know the film is emotionally fierce and moody and even pulverizing at times.
Rosenman was Oscar-nominated for his original Cross Creek and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home scores in the mid ’80s, but his back-to-back Oscars, won in 1975 and ’76, were for adapting the classical music in Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon and the Hal Ashby‘s Bound for Glory.