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A Leonard Rosenman Memory

I wrote a few years ago about my interactions with the late, great composer Leonard Rosenman. I am glad that people find it from time to time, and sometimes send me a short note.

I just heard from longtime film music fan and friend Mark Loughlin, whose note was so interesting I asked him if I could run it here, and he agreed:


Hey Lukas— 

I just now got a chance to read your tribute piece on Leonard Rosenman from a couple of years ago. Just wanted to say what a great job you did and how I think you really captured him. I had a somewhat similar experience with him, both with my reaction to his scores to Star Trek and RoboCop 2, the later appreciation of his body of work (especially Pork Chop Hill, and the two James Dean movies), and then actually getting to spend some time with him later in life. He used to go up and drink coffee every day at the Starbucks at the Beverly Glen Center up near Mulholland Drive. I was there pretty much every day myself working and was probably the only one who knew what he looked like. Perhaps from your magazine? Anyway, I approached him one day, and he was very friendly and asked me if I wanted to sit down with him. I did and I asked him a bunch of questions, and he was exactly like you said—very boastful about himself almost to a comic level. This is probably around 2002, 2003, maybe even earlier. I said, “What are you working on now?” And he said something like “I’m in the middle of suing John Williams. He stole my work from me!” I kind of laughed and replied, “Isn’t John Williams too busy winning awards? He doesn’t seem like the stealing type.” I then asked him if it was true that he tried to strangle Stanley Kubrick during the scoring session of Barry Lyndon. He said it was true, but it was more of a playful thing—Kubrick had made him do too many takes and he lunged towards him, jokingly going for his neck. And he said Kubrick flinched, then looked at him and said, “You’re crazy.” He then gave me his business card which I have somewhere and asked me if I wanted to have lunch one day. I said sure, but never really followed up. I think by then I had had too many runs with eccentric older guys in Hollywood, ones who just wanted to bitch and moan to a willing listener. But we would see each other in there and he would nod and wave and we’d say hi. I think, much like Kubrick he was famous for bumming cigarettes off of people. Unfortunately, I didn’t smoke. 

A few months or maybe even over a year later and he’s in there with a younger guy who sits down and then goes and orders his coffee for him. The young guy called to him from over the shop and asked him if he wanted anything to eat. Leonard said yes and then said to him, “Thank you my love!” And then he would sit down and have coffee with him, and other younger guys, who basically were taking care of him. They were always very nice to him and he to them. After that, he was always smiling and in a good mood, and very friendly, much more so than the previous few years, when I was first talking with him. I assumed there was something going on with Alzheimers or something. Then when I read his obituary, it all made a lot more sense. 

The reason I was looking him up at all was because I just saw a screening of Barry Lyndon at Vidiots in Eagle Rock over the weekend, my first time seeing it on the big screen and it was an amazing experience. What an achievement. Definitely deserved his Oscar (which I then looked up on YouTube and saw his short, sweet and somewhat humble speech). The theatre was pretty full and audience loved it. And that’s pretty much 50 years later now. And I think he and John Williams both won Oscars that year. 

Anyway, this is my long way of saying, I really enjoyed your piece on him. So, congrats. 


Mark Loughlin


And thank you for sharing!

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What a genius this guy was! Always offered something uniquely dissonant but then completely memorable!....

I love that bass note that slowly descends in the Beneath Apes score main title...awesome...never mind Prophecy, The Car, Race With The Devil.....pure one off!

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