Lalo Schifrin: News of Oscar too good to be true


Argentine composer Lalo Schifrin, who will receive an Honorary Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, couldn't believe it when he got the news last September.

"I thought it was too good to be true," he said in an interview with EFE.

"I never had the slightest idea," the 86-year-old Schifrin said. "I was out shopping with my wife, and when we got back I got a phone call. My secretary answered, put my wife on the line and I saw her face changing, in a good way, but like really amazed."

"What's going on?" Schifrin asked her.

"The president of the Academy wants to talk to you," his wife Donna replied.

The musician said that at the time, after the excitement of the first few minutes, he only remembered his fans, all those audiences that had embraced his music over the decades.

And now Schifrin will finally take home one of those golden statuettes after being nominated six times.

"I'm a musician and composer - I never think about prizes. The only prize for me is being able to play and write the music I love," he said.

If there is one composition for which he is known worldwide it is the famous theme of "Mission: Impossible."

Schifrin, a lover of jazz and classical music, got involved with "Mission: Impossible" when the television series was launched back in 1966.

"When they gave me the script, I really didn't get it," he laughed. "I asked them to show me the first episode edited because I knew that seeing the rhythm of the shots would help me. And then I knew I could do it. I created a mystery theme which they liked...but the studio asked producer Bruce Geller for something different," he said.

What the executives wanted was a symphony that would captivate viewers completely and force them to give up whatever else they were doing at the time.

"I didn't do it to be a success. It was, quite simply, what they wanted. I was lucky," he said.

And so his career took off and led him to work on such classics as "Cool Hand Luke" (1967), "Bullitt" (1968), "Dirty Harry" (1971) and "Enter the Dragon" (1973), among others. With Clint Eastwood he did three more "Dirty Harry" films.

But how did his career in the United States begin? It was all thanks to jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, who in the mid-1950s heard the orchestra that Schifrin had formed in Buenos Aires and asked who the creator of that music was.

"He invited me to work with him in New York - and that was when some executives from film studios heard my music and decided they had to take me to Los Angeles to work in movies," the musician recalled.

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