Tonight I went to Paramount for the Elmer Bernstein Memorial. It was a lovely evening, full of schmoozing, reminiscing, and of course, people talking about Elmer. At the pre-memorial reception, I had the good fortune not only to talk with John Landis (who might make a future appearance on “The Big Pile”), but he also introduced me to Ray Harryhausen, which was truly an honor. Other people of note in attendance were composers James Newton Howard, John Debney, Christopher Young, Chris Lennertz, John Frizzell, songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman, actor/director Bill Duke, director Todd Haynes, and many others.
The tribute itself was lovely, with Elmer’s children and some collaborators sharing stories, with live performances of some of Elmer’s music on the piano by Mike Lang, and Christopher Parkening on guitar. There was lots of touching memories shared, including some lovely messages from John Barry and Martin Scorsese, who were unable to attend.
There was also some humor, as John Landis told us about the time that he and Elmer were in Munich recording Spies Like Us, and they prank-called Leni Riefenstahl. He also shared a joke that Elmer once told him:
Sadie and Al are in the bedroom, with Al in bed, dying. He asks Sadie, “what is that lovely smell?” She replies, “It’s rugelach.” “Can I have some?” asks Al. Sadie replies, “No, it’s for the shiva.”
If you don’t get it, email me. But it was incredibly funny, yet very sad and touching at the same time. Elmer was a great film composer, and I was fortunate enough to know him. He will be truly missed, but his music will certainly live on.