LALO SCHIFRIN (2008), Part 1

October 20, 2010 | By

Return toHome Exclusive Interviews & ProfilesComposers


Sudden Impact (1983), Lalo Schifrin’s final score in the Dirty Harry quintet, marks the 39th CD released on the composer’s own label, Aleph Records. Spanning classical, jazz, film, and concert recordings, the label is also a commercial platform through which the works of brilliant musicians and composers in different idioms have been given new life after languishing in studio vaults, including some rare recordings never released in complete form.

That’s been the case with Schifrin’s own Dirty Harry scores (the eponymous first and second film, Magnum Force), as well as the third, The Enforcer (1976), scored by Jerry Fielding.

In this brief Q&A, we’ve edited Schifrin’s comments regarding his label, the popularity of his music, and his latest venture – providing music inspired by the Spooks comic book series.



Mark R. Hasan : I guess among the more unusual projects you’re involved with right now isSpooks, which is music that was inspired by the comic books co-created by your son, Ryan Schifrin.

Lalo Schifrin : My son, who’s also a filmmaker (he did a movie already, Abominable, for which I wrote the music) is working on that comic book, with an idea of making a movie afterwards, and if he makes a movie, I’ll write the score.

MRH : Samples of the music, to be released this month on iTunes, is currently playing on theSpooks website.

LS : And also they’re going to have a CD with the comic book.

MRH : Is it a complete score, or a selection of themes?

LS : I don’t know how long it’s going to be.

MRH : And your involvement with Andy Garfield: is he primarily the orchestrator, or did he expanded on some of your ideas?

LS : He knows how to use electronic samples, so you could say he’s similar to an orchestrator, because I gave him the music I did, and then he added some chorals, like an orchestrator would do. Also, I think he’s going to do one or two original tunes for this CD. I never met him personally, but I’ve talked to him on the phone, and he’s a friend of my son.

MRH : During the 1970s, you had composers like Elmer Bernstein and Bernard Herrmann who were probably among the few composers that were actively re-recording their music, probably because they didn’t have access or rights to use the original recordings, and I guess at that time it was really difficult to deal with apathetic music labels and disinterested studios.

I’m curious if you find there’s been a change among a lot of the major labels where they’re more open to releasing original scores, or do you think it’s perhaps due to your stature as a highly respected film composer that you’ve been able to release your soundtracks on Aleph Records, your own label?

LS : If you’re talking about film music, I’ve been lucky because I’m a friend of Clint Eastwood, and his attorney knows about this friendship. Clint Eastwood works for Warner Bros. (who release his pictures), but he has his own company called Malpaso Productions, and he has a lot of freedom to do whatever he wants to do, and I’ve been lucky that he gave me these recordings of Dirty Harry and some others, and as a matter of fact there are more coming.

MRH : From the Warner Bros. catalogue?

LS : Warner and also Universal.

MRH : I know Universal was a bit slow when it came to releasing some of the scores they own –

LS : Well, I don’t want to say anything [but] the deals with Universal have not been signed yet, but they’re in good shape.

MRH : That’s good to hear.

I know that early in your career, during the sixties, you scored a lot of television shows and feature films, and some of those works appeared as re-recorded or score extracts on various Verve albums, and I wonder if there’s maybe a chance that some of that music might eventually come out? There’s quite a bit from the Verve catalogue that still has yet to be released, even in complete form.

LS : I used to be a Verve artist, not only for film music, but for jazz [but] this I cannot answer, because… it’s not my decision.

MRH : Are you surprised that the music you wrote twenty-plus years ago is still very popular?

LS : Yes, I am pleasantly surprised… Last year I did a concert of film music in Paris, and I invited Kyle Eastwood, Clint Eastwood’s son, who plays electric bass, and we played a special symphonic suite I did of Dirty Harry, and he played an incredible bass solo, and the audience went crazy. [The concert] was sold out, and there was a standing ovation.

MRH : I remember when his debut CD came out, and I was really surprised that he’s a really good bassist, and a good composer, too.

LS : Yeah. As I said, this is a pleasant surprise, and it also allows me to be in touch with the younger generation, and it’s almost like a bridge across time; it rejuvenates me.

MRH : Dirty Harry is not just a jazz score, it’s not just an orchestral jazz score, and it’s not just a fusion score; it has many diverse elements that work very well together, and I think you broke conventions by not writing music that was wholly in whatever style or idiom that was popular at the time (like rock, pop, or disco, for example).

LS : Thank you. I appreciate your analysis and your comments… For me, it’s difficult to be objective about myself. I need somebody like you to see it from outside, but the only explanation I can give you is that I had a very vast musical education. First classical, and then I engaged in jazz, and then I got into ethnic music. Ethnomusicology was one of my big interests, and I studied the music of other cultures, including European music that is outside of the standard repertoires – music of the Renaissance and the Middle Ages. I am very curious – like a child – and I incorporate all these things, even without thinking.


. would like to thank Lalo Schifrin for his generous time, and Beth Krakower at Cinemedia Promotions for facilitating this interview.

To visit Lalo Schifrin’s website, click HERE.

To hear samples of Lalo Schifrin’s music for Spooks, please visit the official website HERE.

For a detailed discography of Lalo Schifrin’s massive canon, check out Doug Payne’s wonderful website.

To read Part 2: October 2008, where we interviewed Lalo Schifrin regarding the publication of his autobiography, Mission Impossible: My Life in Music, by Scarecrow Press, click HERE!

All images remain the property of their copyright holders.

This article and interview © 2008 by Mark R. Hasan


Related external links (MAIN SITE):

CD:  Abominable (2006) —  Enforcer, The (1976) —  Magnum Force (1973) — Sudden Impact (1983)


Return toHome Exclusive Interviews & ProfilesComposers

Tags: , , ,

Category: Uncategorized

Comments are closed.