April 30, 2012: Remembering Joel Goldsmith

I’m going to interrupt this blog’s scheduled posting to dedicate today’s entry to the memory of Joel Goldsmith.  Joel, who passed away last night, was a much loved and respected member of our extended Stargate family; his considerable contributions to the franchise a key part of its long-running success.  The son of renowned composer Jerry Goldsmith, he was an enormously talented in his own right, scoring all three Stargate incarnations (SG-1, Atlantis, and Universe) as well as the SG movies Continuum and Ark of Truth.  His lengthy list of credits include such varied productions as The Untouchables, The Outer Limits, and Diagnosis Murder, but it was, of course, Stargate that introduced me to his musical genius, indefatigable spirit, and greatly appreciated kindness.

Joel was terrific at what he did.  That goes without saying.  Check out any episode of Stargate and imagine how much poorer it would be without his music: the haunting Ascension theme from the end of SG-1’s Meridian as Daniel Jackson says goodbye to Jack, the stirring theme to Stargate: Atlantis that accompanies visuals of the city rising up out of the ocean’s depths, the melancholy yet beautifully elegant ending theme that accompanied SGU’s closing montage.  As producers, whenever we gave notes to anyone on the production, we always liked to balance our criticisms or requests with some recognition of a job well done.  In Joel’s case, there was never an issue with finding something great to say about his work.  If we had notes, they would be few and far between, and they would always be eclipsed by his tremendous accomplishments on any given mix.

The man was talented, but he was also genuinely gracious and thoughtful. Joel liked to know when we felt something wasn’t working so that he could improve upon it, but he also liked to know what WAS working (which, in all honesty, was about 99% of everything he did). Like any great artist, he appreciated the feedback.  But he was also quick to recognize the hard work of others.  I remember receiving a call from him about six episodes into Atlantis’s fourth season, the year Paul and I took over as show runners.  He had picked up the phone simply to congratulate us on the job we were doing.  He’d read the scripts, loved them, and was looking forward to working on the upcoming episodes.  He was calling to thank us for the great material which I found incredibly touching and, quite frankly, amazing.  And it was something he continued to do – not once or twice or even three times, but throughout those final two seasons.  Joel not only worked on Stargate – he was a fan.  And he sounded very much like a fan, echoing the online sentiment at the time, after learning of Atlantis’s cancellation.  He was outraged and sincerely disappointed that the series had come to what was, in his opinion, a premature end.  I was equally disappointed but the news of SGA cancellation was mitigated by that phone call from Joel.  We’d be moving on to SGU, finding work on a new incarnation of Stargate, but it was a damn shame nevertheless, and he wanted me to know it.

April 30, 2012: Remembering Joel Goldsmith

Joel was a pleasure to work with because he was collaborative.  He didn’t take dictation and yet, on the other hand, was never precious about his work either, ever willing to hear us out, make the necessary adjustments or, if need be, argue a point.  I remember one episode where, in a rare instance, a producer suggested we purchase a song for a scene.  Not all of the producers were onboard with the tune and we were leaning toward having Joel come up with something.  But rather than do so, Joel listened to that song from a little known band and defended it – vehemently so.  It would have been simple enough for him to create something but, instead, he recognized the talent in that song and, more importantly, recognized the opportunity it offered that band.  It seemed such a trivial decision at the time but, in retrospect, says a lot about the man’s character.

Finally, we come to Joel’s last piece for the Stargate franchise, that beautiful closing theme to the SGU finale, Gauntlet.  I have to admit that, at the time the episode was being produced, I wasn’t so sure I wanted Joel to score the montage.  When we received the director’s cut, the sequence had included a gorgeous piece that I felt was nothing short of perfect.  I loved Joel’s work, knew what he was capable of but, I have to admit, I doubted even he could trump the music that accompanied the director’s cut.  But Joel wanted to try.  He did.  And succeeded.  If that original piece was nothing shot of perfect, then the closing piece Joel came up with was beyond perfection.

And, I think, a fitting coda to this blog entry…

81 thoughts on “April 30, 2012: Remembering Joel Goldsmith

  1. how very sad – The music Joel created was truly beautiful. He will be missed but always remembered.

  2. Wow… that final ending scene still brings tears to my eyes… Joel was amazing and will be missed… my he rest in peace.

  3. Joe, you were right. I had tears pouring down my face. That was a most fitting coda.

    RIP Joel Goldsmith

  4. Great, not good, GREAT at his craft! Stargate fans not yet born will hear his scores and go WHOA!

    -kudos to the genius that included him in the poker game in ‘Vegas’-

    RIP Joel Goldsmith

  5. My best wishes to Joel Goldsmith’s family and friends. I love listening to all the various Stargate music on my mp3 player.

  6. The universe has now lost two great Goldsmiths, and cinematic scoring won’t ever be the same.

    So much of the appeal of Stargate was Goldsmith’s music. It could be broad and bombastic, but it could also subtly underscore those kinds of personal moments that Joe mentions perfectly. Whenever I watch an episode of Atlantis, for instance, I always watch the opening theme sequence because the music just so perfectly sets the mood for that show that I can’t imagine the show without it.

    Much of the work that was done on Stargate was equal or superior to what happens on most movies – the cinematography and visual effects, editing and acting and so forth – and Joel fit right in, always providing a cinematic score. And he was such a good composer, so easily able to switch styles and moods (just like his father), that the music for Universe was totally different than anything he’d done for Stargate to that point, but it – again – perfectly matched the feel of the show. I hadn’t watched that last scene from Universe in a while, and it reminded me that whatever the ultimate failure of that show was, it wasn’t because the people making it weren’t giving it their all. That last musical selection, so harmonically simple, yet so emotionally effective, fits in perfectly with the acting, the cinematography and the final visual sequence, all of which were done by people at the top of their game, to make that scene so layered, so metaphorical, so meaningful.

    He sounds like he was a great person to know, and I wish I could have met him. But all great artists tell us something about themselves in their work, and I think Joel told us quite a lot about himself in his music. This is sad news, especially as he died far too young, but the Goldsmith family legacy will live on in Jerry and Joel’s work, and that’s something to celebrate.

  7. Dear Joseph,

    I am doubly saddened by Joel’s passing, for I have been not only a fan of his work, but also that of his father Jerry, who composed the music for many Star Trek movies and shows as well as classics like Planet of the Apes, Alien, and Total Recall. (And outside the realm of science fiction, I’ll add that I listened to his Masada soundtrack so many times that I wore out the LP and had to buy another.) I used to say my favorite composers were “The Four J’s”: John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, John Barry, and James Horner. With Jerry’s passing, I at least took solace in knowing that Joel was ably carrying on his father’s tradition. So for me, yesterday signaled the end of two generations of musical genius.

    Joel’s work on Stargate Universe is currently nominated for a Constellation Award. I urge all Stargate fans to join me in honoring his memory by voting for Joel and SGU across the board. The Constellation Awards page is here:

    http://constellations.tcon.ca/

    A Facebook event for the vote is here:

    http://www.facebook.com/events/205797526202559/

    Though the Constellations are Canadian awards, non-Canadians can vote by joining the TCON Promotional Society, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of science fiction. I’ve written step-by-step instructions for joining TCON and voting here:

    http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=268312806591692

    I hope that a win in the Constellation Awards will help convince the powers-that-be to make available a soundtrack album of Joel’s majestic and beautiful music for SGU.

    Thank you, Joel, for helping give us the sense of wonder that is essential to great science fiction. And thank you, Joseph, for this space in your blog.

    Blake Linton

  8. Huge loss. Joel Goldsmith was so talented and left a tremendous and beautiful body of work that will continue to be enjoyed by many generations. It was only fitting that Joel composed that last piece in the final scene of Universe for the Franchise he brought so much power, meaning, and recognition to. And now you finally have one good reason not to bring Stargate back. Without his music a section of the Stargate heart beats no more. No one could ever replace Joel Goldsmith.

  9. Thanks Joe for the kind words about a great talent.
    To me, most shows are nothing without the music to bring in the emotions. Joel always hit the right chord. Only the Temple Grandin telemovie (without music) has played my heartstrings as much as Joel’s work on SGU did.

  10. @Ponytail: “Without his music a section of the Stargate heart beats no more.”

    Very true, and nicely said. 🙂

  11. I haven’t watched the last episode of SGU (I think I’ve admitted this before). I can’t bear to believe the show is over (I know, pathetic), but…now…I think I’m going to sit down tomorrow and and let myself have a little cry while watching it. I loved the work his father did on Star Trek and I loved the work Joel did on Stargate.

    Thanks for this bit of insight – he was an amazing artist and will be missed. 🙁

  12. 🙁

    Lovely piece of music, that, and a very nice tribute. Thank you, Joe, for sharing your reflections and memories about Joel. It is a sad day, indeed. My condolences to Mr. Goldsmith’s family, and to all in the Stargate family that have been touched by his passing.

    ~ Deirdre

  13. Oh, how sad. I am crying. I had no idea and to hear the news from you was as if to hear it from a friend. Joel really was a wonderful man and I truly enjoyed meeting him.

    He is missed.

  14. The world of music has lost a great mind and soul. For me, the music of Stargate was as integral a part of the show as anything else. I have a great love of music, and Joel’s scoring could always be counted on to be “note perfect” in setting the mood for any scene in which it was used.

    A very sad day, indeed.

  15. So sorry to hear about the loss of Joel Goldsmith. His work in Stargate was absolutely wonderful. He will be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

  16. Again Joe I’m going to ask the question… do you think they’ll now put out a SGU recording even if it is digital download and not in CD format?

    Or more of his music in general?

    His music was amazing

  17. So sad to hear about Joel, a very talented man, his music lives on, Thanks Joel. My condolences to his family and friends. and thank you Joe for letting us know.

  18. So very sad to hear this news. The clip from SGU got me to do what no one else so far has – watch a scene from the series. Beautiful and haunting music, you are correct, a fitting tribute to an incredible talent. Blessings and prayers to his family and friends.

  19. A great tribute for a great man! He will be deeply missed, but his music will always play on in our hearts.

    Take care, Joel, wherever you are… and thank you for being you!

  20. The Stargate family has lost an invaluable member of its creative team. I’ve watched all versions of Stargate and enjoyed Joel’s music throughout each run. I truly loved every version of themes Joel created: SG1 – evoked adventure and daring-do; SGA – excitement and danger; SGU – mystery and wonder mixed with hope. To me, there was no better theme than what Joel produced for SGU. I love that show. To this day, whenever I watch those last three minutes of Gauntlet, I can’t tell if it’s the sadness of a wonderful series cut off in its prime, or Joel’s brilliant music which bring tears to my eyes. I will miss his genius.

  21. A lovely tribute, Joe. Joel’s usic was truly unique and will be legendary. I can listen to the music from Continuum and Ark of Truth over and over again and the music brings back so many scenes from the movies and the series. He had amazing talent and left us far too soon. Condolences to his family, friends, and fans.

  22. I’m praying for his family and friends.

    Looking back, it’s easy to see the impact he made…Joel will be missed.

    And condolences to you Joe for losing a friend.

  23. Joel was as much to stargate as any of the actors were. With his passing it further cements the reality that “our” Stargate will never be returning. The good news is that we have hundreds of episodes of his music to forever remember him and his brilliance.

  24. I was so sad to hear this news. I’ve always believed great composers are equal to actors in their ability to draw us into a world outside of our own. And Joel was one of the greats.

    My deepest sympathy to his family and friends.

  25. This is makes me very sad. I never met him, but I had met his father many many years ago, when he was scoring one of my dad’s movies. Music has lost a great talent today.

  26. It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I’ve been following along as usual. I felt it pertinent to post now with respect to Joel’s passing.

    Few composers for TV shows are born with such amazing abilities and sensibilities to scene, emotion, and intent. But Joel got it. His music was more than half the reason I started watching SG1 and continued watching the franchise throughout its run. Yes, the stories were fun and great and interesting, which scratched my sci-fi itch, but when his music accompanied certain scenes, it transformed them into truly heart wrenching moments in time. That’s what does it for me. I’ve played violin, guitar, and bass since I was 8, so music has been a huge part of my life, impacting me in many different ways and cementing itself in my memories at many various points in my life’s journey.

    Rarely does that similar kind of impact happen with, let’s face it, background music. And you nailed it on the head, Joe, with Daniel’s ascended theme whenever he visited Jack, like in Abyss. Great story, great back and forth with Daniel and Jack, but the music at the end just seals the deal for me. Truly fits the moment, truly touching.

    The exact same could be said of many other scenes across the franchise’s run, but the final scene of SGU still makes me tear up a bit, even without watching the entire episode for the emotional setup. The music is that powerful.

    A true gift to the SG franchise.
    A true gift to sci-fi.
    He will be missed.

    Thank you Joel, for all the wonderful music and moments you created.

    -Mike A.

  27. I couldn’t listen to the piece right now. I’m having a teary music day already. But I will.
    It’s people like Joel that cause me to have a continual music score running through my head during my life. Dad and I were having a conversation only a few days ago about how music can make you feel so many things. And it’s at the level of your soul. Joel did that.
    I hope his family can take some peace from all the good he did in his short lifetime.

  28. Ohhhhh noooo, no no nooo!
    🙁
    I can’t believe it. This man was so amazing. I’ve watched Stargate Atlantis eps without the composed music and the impact of the sounds afterwards is SOOOO HUGE.
    Rest in Piece Joel!
    This man was so great. Stargate and I mean the whole franchise would have been nothing without him. And I’m sorry for being so general here, but all the tunes… when I hear only one of them I think, “omg, that’s from Stargate, hell yea!”
    T_T
    This is really a huge loss. And the fact that he also had such a great personality only makes it worse.
    I’m so sorry Joe!

    I hope time will bring better news.

  29. Wow, terrible news, it’s a shame mainstream news sites aren’t covering this, it’s also a shame he died so young. Cancer really sucks =(

    Stargate was a huge part of peoples lives for so many years, and even if people don’t know him by name, they will always remember the amazing music.

  30. I also want to add my condolences to his family, particularly his mother, who has lost her husband AND son in such a short span of time. (Jerry passed in 2004)

  31. Hi,
    I’m terribly shocked by this annoucement… I’ve been a fan of the Stargate franchise for many years, today I’m 23 so Stargate has almost directed my life of the half part of it, and I must say that I’ve loved all the 334 episodes plus the direct to DVD movies.

    Although the actors, the sets, the FX and of you the scenarii were good, it would have almost been nothing without the great job Joel did….
    You’re absolutely right when you quote the Ascension theme, the rising of Atlantis, but you could also mentione the Ori arrival through the supergate, or the various SGU space battle (the arrival of the seed ship in Resurgence was an epic visual moment, and with the music it litterally was a visceral moment – don’t know if the expression is used in the USA- well I felt the scene and the music inside of me !!)

    To conclude, I’d say that the Stargate franchise just has lost a part of itself but thankfully, we all here have plenty of moments to think to him while watching Stargate episodes ! His job and memory will be remembered through out what he has achieved !

  32. Hey Joe,

    What a 🎶🎵wonderful tribute🎵🎶. I will freely admit that he brought me to 💦tears on several occasions. The beautiful blend of of the seen & heard.

    I tried to listen to the 🎶song🎶..but started to 😢cry. I know I have been far too attached to certain 📺shows…and I have certainly needed distance to enjoy the SGU 💽DVDs without crying my 😭eyes out. *sigh* it will take a while longer…but it is well worth owning them…knowing when I need them…they will be ready.

    Joel was 💜special💜 and his gift made a difference. My life has be touched by his gift.

    Best to you Joe,
    Always,
    Cheryl 😊

  33. Bonjour,
    quand on pense à tout le bien qu’une belle musique fait à l’âme de celui qui l’entend, à mon avis, presque tous les compositeurs vont au ciel…

  34. Watching the SGU clip left me with tears in my eyes, too… I can’t help but wonder what beautiful music Joel would have composed in the (at least) 20 more years he should have had, but I am glad for what he left us. That one piece alone was more perfect than some other composers’ entire body of work, and I hope the Constellation goes to him. Thanks for a lovely tribute —

  35. So sorry to hear about Joel Goldsmith’s passing, but this was a beautiful tribute. His music truly did make Stargate even better, and played a big part in creating the heart and soul of these great shows.

  36. So sad to hear Joel Goldsmith passing away. His music was the magic of Stargate. He really brought life into all those episodes. My prayers and condolences to his family and friends.

  37. I am absolutely sobbing in droves here, not only because of the loss of such of an amazing show that had so many more stories to tell (but a good ending it was if we had to have one), but the music that we will never hear from Mr. Goldsmith anymore. I send my love and sympathy to all his friends on Stargate and all the others who knew him, and even though I did not know him, I know the world has become lesser for all the music he had yet to write. I know how upset I am at this; I cannot imagine what you are all feeling at this time.

  38. Beautiful tribute Joe. Re-watching that scene really brought back a lot of the original emotion of then losing that last piece of Stargate, and now losing the genius that was Joel.

  39. Another great talent lost. Thanks for sharing those memories with us, Joe. I’ve always loved Joel Goldsmith’s music. He and his father were brilliant composers. Condolences to his friends and family including all of us whose lives he touched through his music.

    I’d forgotten about the beautiful, moving music in the montage; sometimes that happens when the music and action blend so seamlessly. At the time of the finale, I loved that scene – it was sad, but full of hope. And the look on David Blue’s face at the very end was the perfect was to close that chapter.

  40. RIP Joel Goldsmith. A sad day indeed. Stargate just wouldn’t be the same without the great accompanying music, loud enough to be heard but not distracting, yet adds feeling and makes the show so much better.

  41. Very sad news indeed. The only thing better than enjoying his music is hearing that he was just a good guy to boot.

  42. Made me cry all over again – especially under the circumstances. Joel was blessed with an amazing talent. He will be missed.

  43. I could not believe it when I saw your blog this morning -so sad. Joel had an amazing talent and his music throughout SGU in particular was simply incredible. Much sympathy to his friends and family.

  44. I often listen to Joel’s Stargate music at work, while writing a course. And also at home to relax from the day’s aggravations. The fuss and fidgets all melt away thanks to his wonderful music.

    The world has lost a talented composer and a gentle, lovely man and we have lost a Stargate family member. Thank you Joe for sharing your interactions and memories about working with Joel. I remember a post of yours some years ago that spoke of the back and forth, give and take (creative process) in creating Atlantis’s theme. I believe you spoke of Joel’s willingness to please, and to provide variations and changes, to get it perfect. And as we all know, he so aptly developed that fabulous theme. Perfectly. I thought then, and still do now, what a tremendous gift he had.

    May God rest you Joel Goldsmith, and thank you so very, very much…
    My sincere condolences to his family and friends, and to us, his Stargate family.

    Carol

  45. I loved Joels music in Subversion/Incursion 1 and 2. I loved the Lucian Alliance stuff in general. I just thought the music used was so fitting and so dramatic, and at the same time kinda epic.

    Last moments of Season 2 aside, the last moments of Season 1 impressed me the most, when the Soldiers were in that room, with the lucian alliance guys about to walk in and kill, the ships power flickers for a moment as it gets hit by another burst and Young looks up..

    Then of course the music with Eli dashing towards the other end of the ship to let Matt/Greer inside, I think that was the same music track though.

    It fit so well. And was so memorable.

    Then again, for some reason I enjoyed yours and Pauls episodes more in Stargate in general Joe. i think you both were fantastic writers(Well still are) but your SGU episodes were fun.

  46. Music is life, and brings life to visual art. It’s so sad to lose such a talented creator.

  47. So sad to hear about Joel…

    Hey, Joe, a little shakin’ going on at your place?

    Elminster

  48. By the end of…the series, with Eli contemplating Space on the observation deck, I felt as bereft as anyone else.

    Had just posted that comment last week, and, heart-breakingly, it is true again today, in honor of Joel Goldsmith.

    Hopefully the family will find their way to this sci-fi family guest book you’ve created for him, Joe. That clip was perfect.

    As others have said, Joel Goldsmith was every bit as much a principal actor on Stargate as those we could see. His was a language without words, when emotion loomed so large and traveled so deep that it could not be tamed by speech.

    His family and friends are in my prayers. I pray that he found a new world as beautiful to contemplate as the one he created for Eli…

  49. Mr Goldsmith is one of a very small number of tv composers whose work I really pay attention to. What a sad loss.

  50. Thank you for a wonderful tribute to Joel, Joe. Any thoughts of the Stargate franchise continuing in one form or other, would be in anticipation of hearing Joel’s outstanding scores. This is very sad… condolences to all. He was much too young and left too soon – but his memory will live on in the music that he leaves for us – what a legacy!

    I will also add my request for a CD with his music… or DVD with the scenes that he wrote his music to. The scenes and music were pure artistry, Too sad to hear of his passing.

  51. I was so sad to hear this on twitter yesterday. His music was wonderful and he brought both humor and gravitas to the Stargate franchise through it. He will be missed and my thoughts go out to his personal family and his Stargate family.

  52. I can’t believe he’s gone…all that fantastic music, and there’s not going to be more of it. It has been one of my dreams that MGM would pick the franchise back up and I’d be able to join the writing staff and that I would get to watch my episode one day with my family and hear that fantastic score; that’s not going to happen now.

    Even watching the coda, at the 2:26 mark, the uplift in the music is so…I believe that that is the lyrical representation of every Stargate fan’s belief and faith and HOPE that one day the Stargate franchise will be returned to it’s rightful spot ON-AIR.

    This is all so sad, we lost Stargate, now we’ve lost Joel.

  53. stunned…. and absolutely heartbroken.

    As a classical pianist myself, I always key in on the music for any tv show or movie I see. The music is essential for the mood and progression and a lot of the time make a scene what it is. The music in Stargate, in my opinion, improved with each year of the show. The last two seasons of SG-1 had incredible music. I believe his work on Universe was unsurpassed! I had numerous discussions with my fellow musicians that commented on the quality in Universe. The excerpt when Destiny flies through the sun in “Light”, the sweeping aerial shots in “Air, Part 3,” the senator’s death in “Air, Part 2” and finally, the closing scene in “Gauntlet” posted above are simply remarkable music moments.

    That scene brings me to tears every time I watch it for so many reasons. Joel’s passing now adds so much more to it. What was ultimately Stargate’s swan song is now also Mr.Goldsmith’s. So tragic.

  54. I hear his music every single day. Atlantis’ theme is my ringtone, Ascention is my alarm. It breaks my heart to know he’s no longer with us, but I know he’s in a better place. His music was beautiful and it lives on in the episodes he composed it for, and in my headphones <3

  55. That is so sad. My husband and I got married in October and right after our vows we walked away to the opening song from Stargate, the one Joel adapted for the show. We even had a Stargate Grooms cake that I made myself. He will be missed.

  56. A touching homage to a great composer.

    Excellent choice for the video as well. When I watched Gauntlet, that closing music was so perfect, I thought to myself, “this is the finest piece of music in Stargate, and Goldsmith has really achieved a new level of mastery.” I always thought the lighthearted theme from SG1 was perfect, for what it was, but this one is an all new level. Any chance, if they’re not going to publish the sheet music at some point, we could get a copy of his score, so we can carry on making his music?

  57. I see Gauntlet being played all over youtube. But I can tell from watching youtube players that NONE of them are playing what was fully scored for that last show. And the only piece of sheet music I could find has the left hand accompaniment and right hand melody. The right had accompaniment has been completely left out. For you musically inclined people there are 3 voices being played on the piano (4 if you count the cello, 5 if the strings are counted): left hand accompaniment, right hand accompaniment (the part missing from the sheet music), and right hand melody. The sheet music is almost entirely left hand. Ignore the directions of the staff, trust me it’s almost entirely left hand.

    Bummer! if the full score is ever found, please post it.

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