Interview with James D’Arc

James V. D’Arc is Curator of the Brigham Young University Film Music Archive in the L. Tom Perry Special Collections of the Harold B Lee Library at BYU. Established in 1996, the Film Music Archives contains materials that BYU began collecting more than two decades ago. First acquired were the files and recordings of Republic Pictures and Max Steiner, acknowledged founder of modern film music, whose collection documents his more than 300 scores.

BYU also owns the papers, scores, and music of Hugo Friedhofer. The Kenneth Darby Papers document the choral specialist’s career at Twentieth Century–Fox, where he and composer Alfred Newman collaborated on numerous classic films. The papers of John Addison and Jerry Fielding are also owned by BYU. The archives also include the collection of Ernest Gold.

A virtual history of the long-play soundtrack album is documented in the Craig Spaulding Collection of nearly 3,000 original soundtrack albums dating from PINOCCHIO (1940) and THE JUNGLE BOOK (1942) to the demise of the vinyl LP in 1989. In addition to collecting material for research, the Film Music Archives produces a series of premiere soundtrack releases from original materials in BYU’s collection.

What is the background to the Brigham Young University Hugo Friedhofer and Max Steiner collections – how did it originate? What exactly does the collection consist of?
The Max Steiner Papers were acquired by Brigham Young University in 1981 following many meetings with Steiner’s widow, Leonetta. It became the flagship collection of what in the early 1990s was officially named the BYU Film Music Archive. The Hugo Friedhofer Papers came next in early 1984 as the L. Tom Perry Special Collections began to gather more and more film music collections, including the entire Republic Pictures Music Archive that contains complete performance scores, more than7,000 laquer playback discs and supporting data (cue sheets, recording logs, etc.). The term «Papers» is an umbrella word that embraces all kinds of documentation in a person’s collection that they have created through the years : correspondence, photographs, financial files, notebooks, audio recordings, etc. The Friedhofer Papers is predominantly comprised of 35 oversize boxes of original music manuscripts, including orchestrations that include ONE-EYED JACKS, THE ADVENTURES OF MARCO POLO, THE YOUNG LIONS, THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, BROKEN ARROW, and GILDA. From another source, BYU acquired a number of laquer studio playback discs of the original recording sessions for titles that include BROKEN ARROW, THE BISHOP’S WIFE, THE BANDIT OF SHERWOOD FOREST, and SEVEN CITIES OF GOLD. From film score historian William Rosar, we also acquired his files of correspondence with Friedhofer. In wonderful ways, the Max Steiner Papers and the Hugo Friedhofer Papers complement one another in that Friedhofer orchestrated many of Steiner’s scores. Steiner’s annotations in the pencil scores are specifically addressed to Friedhofer.

Does Warner Bros and also hold film music elements for the titles held by BYU?
The Warner Bros. Archives, now housed at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, may have score material for his orchestrations for Steiner and other composers. One would need to check with them on their availability. I am not aware of soundtrack recording material that the studio may hold on films with which Friedhofer was associated.

I believe the first CD which you produced was Max Steiner’s THE SEARCHERS. What was the background to deciding to make the music available on CD?
After the BYU Film Music Archive was officially designated in 1995, I sought to find a way in which these wonderful original studio recordings might be enjoyed by more than the many researchers who used them on-site at Brigham Young University. Fortunately, Warner Bros., and many other studios who own the rights to film music mateirals preserved at BYU, were most cooperative in negotiating agreements whereby BYU was permitted to issue limited editions of these studio recordings. Screen Archives Entertainment came on board as our exclusive mail-order distributor. Its owner, Craig Spaulding, suggested that THE SEARCHERS be the first production. That release came out in late 1995-early 1996. We were most fortunate to obtain the services of Ray Faiola on our next release, Steiner’s THE FLAME AND THE ARROW, and his sound engineering genius is evident on nearly every one of our 19 releases since that time, the latest being Steiner’s score for THOSE CALLOWAYS. Faiola has been a valued member of the BYU FMA CD Series team virtually from its inception.

I understand that a remastered version of THE SEARCHERS is planned. Any update on that?
Many months have been spent in improving the sound and completely re-designing the booklet for our re-issue of the sold-out CD of THE SEARCHERS. The term re-issue is perhaps a misnomer where THE SEARCHERS is concerned. The sound has been completely worked on by Ray Faiola in an effort to clean up the defects on the laquer discs while retaining the ambiance of the Warner sound. New photographs and a completely revamped booklet design will also grace the renewed CD release of THE SEARCHERS that will come out sometime during 2015. We are thrilled to provide this important score to those who love the legacy of film music.

What were the circumstances which led to BYU/FMA releasing Hugo Friedhofer’s music for the Fox film BROKEN ARROW?
BROKEN ARROW was the fifth release in our CD series and the first to use music tracks at the studio. We were prepared to use the laquer playback discs in the Friedhofer Papers in order to get our first Hugo Friedhofer score into our BYU/FMA CD series but, thanks to the assistance of Thomas G. Cavanaugh (Fox Music, Inc.) and Nick Redman, we were able to use the multi-angled music tracks preserved at 20th Century Fox. The superb mixing and synchronization job by Rick Victor resulted in a very wide, deep stereo sound that can be heard on our CD release.

Are you able to give any information on any other future projects?
Our next planned release is the complete Max Steiner score to FIGHTER SQUADRON (Warner Bros., 1948). This WWII aviation picture allowed Steiner to reprise, in large part, his powerful score originally used in DIVE BOMBER (Warner Bros, 1941), for which there are only a few cues in the Steiner Papers. We hope that FIGHTER SQUADRON will, like THE SEARCHERS, be a 2015 release, but there are many time-consuming variables that may push it into 2016.

Many thanks to Jim for giving his time to answer these questions.

An Interview with James D’Arc by Doug Raynes © 2015

Leave a Reply