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'I had not worked with Wes Craven before. It was serendipitous. We got together on the suggestion of the music supervisor. Wes and I got on like a house on fire. Wes used to be an English professor, and I did too, so we played word games. We'd place bets on the meanings of obscure words. He's also a terrific musician. In meetings, he and I would pass a guitar back and forth.

'I spent a year and three months on the picture overall, because I had to do all the prerecords for the concert scenes and classroom scenes. Madonna was on the picture at first but then she left and Meryl Streep came on. She came with some very specific requests about tempos, having to do with the cadence of her dialogue. She wanted the playing underneath her dialogue to have a certain tempo.

'We did all the scenes at Carnegie Hall on a three-day shoot with legendary violinists Mark O'Connor, Issac Stern and Itzhak Perlman and 4,000 extras. It was my privilege to record them for the Bach Double, which is the finale.

'After that, I had to score the film and it was a substantial score. A couple of orchestrators told me that I am pandiatonic, which refers to someone who uses all the notes in the scale as conveniently as possible. That's a nice way of saying I don't know what the hell I'm doing. I did adopt a musical style that was a little modern, flirting with jazz occasionally but rooted in classical voices. It's very string oriented: not atonal, perhaps a bit traditional. Somehow it seemed to fit up against those classical pieces without a problem. No one will confuse me with Bach, but it did seem to work.

'I did the prerecords mostly in Los Angeles with the L.A. Youth Orchestra. We did the Bach Double onstage in Carnegie, at a lunch hour. It took 45 minutes. I thought, "The next 45 minutes will work, or I will find a new way to make a living." I did the score at Todd-AO with 77 players. There's nothing like firepower.'

Ray Bennett
OSCAR WATCH: The Composers

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