Reviewed Elsewhere: Thomas S. Hischak, The Encyclopedia of Film Composers.

Michael Berkowitz's picture

Thomas S. Hischak. The Encyclopedia of Film Composers. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015. 836 pp. $100.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-442-24549-5.

Hischak’s tome offers a useful introduction to cinema’s most canonised composers while also providing a thorough overview of lesser-regarded contributors to the form. Hischak’s work is admittedly not comprehensive ... However, this extensive volume invites film music scholars to further consider film composition as a unique site of musical work, from its most acclaimed contributors to past figures who otherwise might risk becoming lost to history. ...

By treating lesser-known composers as worthy of the same consideration as immortal figures of the form, Hischak creates a detailed and coherent picture of film composition’s history as musical work within the art and business of filmmaking. ...

A professor of theatre, Thomas S. Hischak has written numerous encyclopaedic volumes on film music and stage musicals. The care he gives to each individual entry in an extensive volume such as this is remarkable, as is the fact that he has been able to regularly produce similarly ambitious books on related topics. Yet a single voice faces inherent limitations in assessing the unique contributions of the many figures profiled across these pages. ... Hischak indeed meets his goal of filling a ‘huge gap’ in our understanding of film composition by placing the best-known film composers alongside the many who have contributed to this field with little recognition by critics, filmmakers, or scholars (p.xvi). This volume provides much onto which film music studies can build, and its investigation of film composition as a particular type of musical and cinematic work invites further consideration as to where film composition has resided at the intersection of other cinematic and film sound practices.

Landon PalmerMusic, Sound, and the Moving Image 11, 1 (2017), 119–123.