Leith Stevens’s War of the Worlds

Featuring: Josh Lucan, Reuven Herman, William H. Rosar, and Tom Schneller

Embark on an exploration of Leith Stevens’ remarkable score to the 1953 science fiction classic, “War of the Worlds.”

Stevens’ unique compositional techniques have significantly influenced the musical language of science fiction, employing devices like stacked fourths and fifths, melodic leaps of a seventh, and tritone-related progressions, which have become associated with the genre’s depiction of space and the extraterrestrial.

His work in the 1960s expanded into television, where he collaborated with the then-emerging John Williams on “Lost in Space.”

Our discussion will delve into the potential compositional links between Stevens and Williams and explore the impact of one of Stevens’ instructors, the Russian composer and theorist Joseph Schillinger.

We will be joined by special guests William H. Rosar and Tom Schneller! Having taught film score analysis in USC’s Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television Program, William H. Rosar is a musicologist and college lecturer specializing in the history of Hollywood film music. He is also founder and former president of the Film Music Society and editor of The Journal of Film Music.  Tom Schneller is a composer, music theorist, and author, and has taught film music at Cornell University, Ithaca College, and Eastman School of Music.


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