DOUBLE LIFE: The Auto-biography of Miklos Rozsa by Miklos Rozsa

DOUBLE LIFE: The Auto-biography of Miklos Rozsa

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this brief, dry, civilized, rather impersonal memoir, Hungarian-born composer Rozsa reviews ""the two parallel lines"" of his career--as a leading film-music writer, as an active (if sporadic) ""composer for myself."" Born in 1907, Rozsa showed early musical talent, with enthusiasm (then unpopular) for Bartok and Kodaly, but his training was spotty till college days in Leipzig--when he divided his rime between chemistry and music. First compositions followed; ""I longed for the crystal clarity of Hungarian folksong as a basis for my music""; moving to Paris, he met Monteux and Munch, had his work performed. But a living could not be made as a serious composer. And so Rozsa turned to more profitable work, first (as ""Nic Tomay"") writing tunes for movie-intermissions, then (following the surprising example of composer-friend Arthur Honegger) seeking work as a film-scorer--an ambition which quickly took him to the shrewdly sketched Kordas in London. Learning ""how to write music with a stopwatch"" by trial and errer, Rozsa's early successes included Four Feathers and Thief of Baghdad. Then on to Hollywood, where studio Music Directors winced over Rozsa's dissonances but directors like Billy Wilder prevailed: Rozsa became first the leader in the psychopathology department (Double Indemnity, Spellbound), next the Roman-epic specialist--researching ancient instruments for Quo Vadis, struggling to find simple, carol-like music for the Ben Hur Nativity scene. And, through the decades, ""I never lest sight of my real profession: that of composer, not of music to order but simply of the music that was in me to write."" With a few sharp anecdotes about movie-studio-mentality (the memos of David O. Selznick) and affectionate anecdotes about colleagues from both music worlds: essential reading for those interested in movie-music, but only intermittently engaging rare for the wider Hollywood-memoir audience.

Pub Date: April 7th, 1983
Publisher: Hippocrene