Please support your favorite classical music

Donate

Support Composers Datebook

Take two minutes to support your daily two minutes of classical history
Donate

Support Performance Today

Performances you love, powered by you
Donate

Support Pipedreams today

Support your love of the King of Instruments
Donate

Support SymphonyCast today

Bring the symphony into your home
Donate

Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Sunday, August 4

David Raksin goes "noir"

Synopsis

Today marks the birthday of American composer David Raksin, born in 1912 in Philadelphia. He studied composition with Arnold Schoenberg, was friends with Igor Stravinsky, and has written a wide range of concert music. Yet Raksin is best known for one haunting tune — the theme he wrote for a classic 1944 film noir entitled "Laura."

David Raksin said the true story behind this music sounds like something out of a Grade-B movie. The very weekend he faced a deadline and simply had to come up with a theme for "Laura," Raksin says he received a "Dear John" letter from his wife stating she was leaving him. Unwilling to believe she was serious (she was); he stuck the letter in his pocket and tried to lose himself in his work.

"By Sunday night," recalled Raksin, "I realized I had a very painful case of writer's block. From the time I was a boy, when the music wouldn't flow, I would prop a book or a poem on the piano and improvise. The idea was to divert my mind from conscious awareness of music-making… I took the letter out of my pocket, put it up on the piano and began to play… and then, without willing it — I was playing the first phrases of what you now know as the 'Laura' theme."

Music Played in Today's Program

David Raksin (b. 1912) Laura Theme New Philharmonia; David Raksin, cond. BMG/RCA 1490

Additional Information

{"airdates":[{"id":25949,"date":"2019-08-04","listen":"apm-audio:/composers_datebook/2019/08/04/datebook_20190804_128.mp3","updated_at":"2019-05-09T19:27:46.000Z","episode":{"id":8271,"synopsis":"David Raksin goes \"noir\"","additional":null,"body":"Today marks the birthday of American composer David Raksin, born in 1912 in Philadelphia. He studied composition with Arnold Schoenberg, was friends with Igor Stravinsky, and has written a wide range of concert music. Yet Raksin is best known for one haunting tune — the theme he wrote for a classic 1944 film noir entitled \"Laura.\" \n\nDavid Raksin said the true story behind this music sounds like something out of a Grade-B movie. The very weekend he faced a deadline and simply had to come up with a theme for \"Laura,\" Raksin says he received a \"Dear John\" letter from his wife stating she was leaving him. Unwilling to believe she was serious (she was); he stuck the letter in his pocket and tried to lose himself in his work.\n\n \"By Sunday night,\" recalled Raksin, \"I realized I had a very painful case of writer's block. From the time I was a boy, when the music wouldn't flow, I would prop a book or a poem on the piano and improvise. The idea was to divert my mind from conscious awareness of music-making… I took the letter out of my pocket, put it up on the piano and began to play… and then, without willing it — I was playing the first phrases of what you now know as the 'Laura' theme.\"\n","playdate":"1972-08-04","pieces":[{"composer":"David Raksin (b. 1912)","title":"Laura Theme","performer":"New Philharmonia; David Raksin, cond.","catalog":"BMG/RCA 1490"}],"links":[{"title":"On David Raksin","href":"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Raksin"},{"title":"A list of Rakin's film and TV scores","href":"http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0000710/"}],"airdates":[{"id":18597,"date":"2013-08-04","listen":"apm-audio:/composers_datebook/2013/08/04/datebook_20130804_128.mp3"},{"id":23551,"date":"2016-08-04","listen":"apm-audio:/composers_datebook/2016/08/04/datebook_20160804_128.mp3"},{"id":25949,"date":"2019-08-04","listen":"apm-audio:/composers_datebook/2019/08/04/datebook_20190804_128.mp3"}]}}],"meta":{"start_date":"2019-08-04","end_date":"2019-08-04"}}