Alex North’s Unused Music Score For 2001 A Space Odyssey

alex north 2001

Cinematic history would perhaps have been very different had Stanley Kubrick gone ahead with his original composer Alex North’s score for 2001 A Space Odyssey. Would iconic scenes from his film, such as the shuttle delicately dancing around the spinning wheeled space station to sounds of The Blue Danube, be as memorable when scored to Space Station Docking? In all the admiration for the films themes and technical audacity, musical scoring tends to come last, yet Kubrick gave just as much thought to this aspect – his final choice to go with his temp score over his composer’s caused some amount of chagrin and bitterness, only lately being softened by Jan Harlin’s statement on behalf of his estate (find out more about the score via that link).

Alex had previously scored for Kubrick on Spartacus. MGM wanted him for 2001, and Kubrick agreed to hire him, though the classical temp music niggled at the back of his mind. North’s daughter-in-law, Abby North, recalls here:

“Alex knocked himself out on this score – he composed 40 minutes of music in two weeks’ time. To meet deadlines, composers often work ridiculous hours and create copious amounts of music in nearly no time. But this was extreme – Alex’s back spasmed and he had to be taken to the recording session in an ambulance. He was in so much pain that Henry Brant, his long-time orchestrator, conducted the orchestra.

As lore goes, Alex had no idea his score had been tossed until he showed up to a screening of the film. And he was not at all pleased when he learned of the fate of his work. Alex believed, up until his dying day, that his score was the ideal accompaniment to Kubrick’s images. He believed his talents had been grossly undervalued.”

Now Alex North’s score is available on CD by Intrada Special Collection and also digital download at Amoeba.com . Jan Harlin praises it by saying,

After almost forty years have passed since the release of 2001, it is wonderful that Alex North’s score is finally available to be heard for the first time in its original incarnation. Stanley Kubrick held Alex North in high regard, but ultimately chose to take his film in a different musical direction, and while that may have been disappointing for Alex, it was a decision that helped make 2001 an “ageless” experience, grounded as it is in the work of Richard and Johann Strauss, A. Khatchaturian, and Gyorgy Ligeti. Alex North, however as his long and storied career demonstrates, is a composer of the highest quality and his contribution to this seminal cinematic work is more than worthy of recognition as an important part of this film classic’s history.”

See what you think of it by sampling the score below.

 

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Originally posted 2013-11-10 15:02:14. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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