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David Newman Is The Grand Musical Voice Behind This Latest Animated "Tarzan"

Profile Of Oscar Nominated Composer David Newman, the composer of "Tarzan" as well as classics such as "Matilda", "Anastasia" and "Heathers"
Profile Of Oscar Nominated Composer David Newman, the composer of "Tarzan" as well as classics such as "Matilda", "Anastasia" and "Heathers"Courtesy of Getty Images

The Newman name is a well known and golden legacy throughout Hollywood. Starting with the late legendary Alfred Newman, who was one of the great workhorses of Hollywood's Golden Age writing a plethora of memorable scores. His legacy would soon be passed down for this current generation of soundtrack fans via Thomas and David, sister Maria, a brilliant violinist, their cousin the Oscar winning songwriter and composer Randy Newman and cousin Joey Newman, an up and rising composer in his own right. Their professionalism and musical tradition is what has made their music such unforgettable staples.

David is an exceptionally talented composer who has created great music over the last four decades for films such as "Matilda", "The Phantom", "Heathers", "The Freshman", "War Of The Roses", "Hoffa", "Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure", "Bill And Ted's Bogus Journey", "Anastasia", "Bowfinger" and many special projects in between. A gifted violinist who became a passionate composer and has loaned his great talents to support the efforts of the American Youth Symphony, which is a wonderful cause and one worth making strides for in support of the youth of the today in need of both inspiration and expressing their musical gifts.

For this very special interview with David, he candidly shares his thoughts about working on his latest animated film, "Tarzan", how the music came to be, working on the film and his musical passions. So please feel free and honored as I was to finally meet and do this wonderful interview with the great David Newman!

David, can you please tell the readers about what made you become interested in music and what led you to become a great violinist and composer.

DN: I loved music all my life. My Mom was primarily responsible for us all learning the violin very early and then piano. I was also trained very early in Theory, Counterpoint, Orchestration, etc. Though I never really had any Formal Composition training. Of course, my Father’s legacy is a large part of it as well

Let’s talk about your latest film the animated version of “Tarzan ”. How did you become involved with the project?

DN: I had done Animals United with the same film makers and scored in Berlin. So it was natural for us to work together again as we had SUCH a great time on the last film. I LOVED working on Tarzan though it was extremely difficult to find the right voice for the film. There is very little dialogue so it is a great opportunity for music to take a lead role. However, we struggled a lot trying to come up with the sound. When we hit on it, a month or so into it, it was pretty smooth sailing from there.

Was it difficult or easier for you to find a tone for that music that you wrote for this film right away or did that take some time for you to come up with themes?

***see above

Did the director specifically give you an idea of what he wanted musically for the film?

DN: Rheinhard Kloos (the director) had a VERY specific idea of what he wanted but it was hard for us to communicate at first about it. He knew the sound and harmonic style he was looking for but we were not in the same room so it took a bit of work. Finally, Rheinhard came out here to LA and we went thru the entire film and really discussed it. After that things were much better. In my defense a lot of the movie wasn’t finished so it was very difficult to tell what was going on. And as I said, there is very little dialogue. So that didn’t help in terms of trying to understand what was going on and why.

What were the recording sessions for the score like?

DN: We recorded in Berlin at Teldex Studio. It was a wonderful experience. It was the same group and studio that we did Animals United with. Top notch musicians and recording engineers.

How much music did you write (in total) for the film?

DN: Around 95 mins.

The soundtrack album featuring your score was released by Milan Records a little over a week ago. Please tell the readers how the album was assembled and what made you decide to put on the CD together the way you did?

DN: I really had nothing to do with the CD as I wasn’t even sure it was coming out in the US. I am VERY pleased with the way it turned out. It’s actually most of the score kind of in show order so, I love it.

Do you think the album will please your fans and that of the film?

DN: I hope so

Is it hard for you to put together a soundtrack of your work for a specific film?

DN: I usually leave it to others who are more objective. Usually this is done very close to the end of the film and all my objectivity has gone out the window. So I really on my music editor, and the company putting out the Cd to help me put it together.

You also have the upcoming comedy “Behaving Badly” starring Selena Gomez and Elisabeth Shue coming out in August. Can you please share your thoughts on the project and how you scored it?

DN: Completely different animal. Most of this was done on my DAW. Much more contemporary style and way less music.

What is your favorite film that you have scored to date?

DN: Really hard to say. I hold a special place in my heart for all the films I did with Danny Devito.

What makes you so passionate about writing for film and as well as the great concerts that you do?

DN: I have always loved movies and the music the underscores it. But mostly I adore movies and always have. To be able to write scores as well as conduct other peoples scores that I admire and even do full movies, Live with orchestra, is really a dream come true. I think it’s a true american art form where anything goes. I love the drama, chaos and passion that is always there in making a film.

Do you have a dream project you would love to do?

DN: Not really. I can’t believe what has happened to me. As I said, I never intended to be a composer. I started in my late 20’s so it’s all a dream for me.

Please tell the readers about your future upcoming projects you may have.

DN: Mostly conducting. You can see on my Web site davidlouisnewman.com. I have some other projects coming up but can’t talk about it yet

Thanks so much David for granting me the time for this interview! I really appreciate it and I’m looking forward to your work in the future.

DN: Thanks so much!

Very special and heartfelt thanks to David. I don't know what to say and in doing this interview, I've met one of my favorite composers and one who deserves as much as love as many others have gotten. May your success continue and inspire others. Also very special thanks to Stefan Karrer for pulling the strings to get this very special interview for me. God bless you!

David's excellent soundtrack to "Tarzan" is now available on Milan Records @ http://milanrecords.com/releases/releases.php?release_name=TARZAN and available to order from Amazon @http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KB4947A/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00KB4947A&linkCode=as2&tag=mpdeofthda-20&linkId=XTBHHHXQW4BPP2MW and digitally on iTunes @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/tarzan-original-motion-picture/id867251088

Please visit David's official site @ http://www.davidnewmancomposer.com/ for latest updates on current and upcoming projects.

Please visit the American Youth Symphony Orchestra site @ http://aysymphony.org/about-ays/david-newman/ for more information on the their critically acclaimed performances as well to make much needed and appreciated donations to fund their great projects for the benefits of young aspiring musicians for a very special cause.

Here's David Newman's Bio:

"David Newman is one of today’s most accomplished creators of music for film. In his 25-year career, he has scored over 100 films, ranging from War of the Roses, Matilda, Bowfinger and Heathers, to the more recent The Spirit, Serenity, and Alvin and The Chipmunks: The Squeakuel. Newman’s music has brought to life the critically acclaimed dramas Brokedown Palace and Hoffa; top-grossing comedies Norbit, Scooby-Doo, Galaxy Quest, The Nutty Professor, The Flintstones, Throw Mama From the Train; and award-winning animated films Ice Age, The Brave Little Toaster and Anastasia. The recipient of top honors from the music and motion picture industries, he holds an Academy Award® nomination for his score to the animated feature Anastasia, and was the first composer to have his piece, 1001 Nights, performed in the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s FILMHARMONIC Series, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Newman is also a highly sought-after conductor and appears with leading orchestras throughout the world, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Berlin Score Orchestra, National Orchestra of Belgium, New Japan Philharmonic, Utah Symphony, and the American Symphony. He has led subscription weeks with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall and regularly conducts the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl. The 2011/12 season sees his debuts with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a return engagement with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as his fifth consecutive annual appearance at the Hollywood Bowl for its acclaimed Movie Night in September 2011.

David Newman conducts the Edward Scissorhands Suite at the final rehearsal for The Elfman Project I

Also an active composer for the concert hall, his works have been performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Indianapolis Symphony, Long Beach Symphony, and at the Ravinia Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, and Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival. Newman has spent considerable time unearthing and restoring film music classics for the concert hall, and headed the Sundance Institute’s music preservation program in the late 1980s. During his tenure at Sundance he wrote an original score and conducted the Utah Symphony for the classic silent motion picture, Sunrise, which opened the Sundance Film Festival in 1989. As a tribute to his work in film music preservation, he was elected President of the Film Music Society in 2007, a nonprofit organization formed by entertainment industry professionals to preserve and restore motion picture and television music.

Passionate about nurturing the next generation of musicians, Newman serves as President of the Board of the American Youth Symphony, where he launched the three-year “Jerry Goldsmith Project.” In 2007 he wrote the children’s melodrama Yoko and the Tooth Fairy for Crossroads School in Santa Monica, CA, and in 2010 he served on the faculty of the Aspen Music Festival in the Film Scoring Program. When his schedule permits, he visits Los Angeles area high schools to speak about film scoring and mentor young composers.

The son of nine-time Oscar-winning composer Alfred Newman, David Newman was born in Los Angeles in 1954. He trained in violin and piano from an early age and earned degrees in orchestral conducting and violin from the University of Southern California. From 1977-1982 he worked extensively in the motion picture and television industry as a violinist, playing on such films as E.T., Twilight Zone – the Movie, and the original Star Trek film. He is married to wife Krystyna, and is the father of two girls, Diana and stepdaughter Brianne. He and Krystyna divide their time between Los Angeles, Carmel-by-the-Sea and New York."