You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Smallscreen, big challenge

Burwell tackles TV scoring with 'Mildred Pierce'

While longsuffering Mildred Pierce was enduring one family trial after another during HBO’s five-part miniseries, it was the composer of such Coen brothers’ movies as “True Grit” and “Fargo” who kept the mood somber and restrained.

“Mildred Pierce” was Carter Burwell’s first television score, and its three-plus hours of music was the most he has ever written for a single project.

Intimate and chamber-like, the score was conceived for just 11 musicians: string quartet, various solo woodwinds including flute and clarinet, harp and piano — “instrumentation typical of what you might call a ‘woman’s movie’ from the middle of the century,” Burwell says.

But unlike the story, the music takes its cue from the title character and never slips into melodrama. “I kept the music extremely contained,” he says. “There is hopefully a tug of drama, and of discomfort, because there are big emotional events going on, but Mildred refuses to give in to emotion.”

Burwell calls “Pierce” director Todd Haynes “very sensitive to music,” adding that, while he and Haynes spent hours discussing the jazz of the 1930s, the period and classical music heard throughout the mini were Haynes’ choices.

ROAD TO THE EMMYS: CREATIVE ARTS
Sound pros battle nature | ‘Idol’ hand Chew juggles sessions | Smallscreen, big challenge | Mountains of footage spell tough terrain | Authenticity overrides glamour | Making fantasy believable

More TV

  • Jane The Virgin -- "Chapter Eighty-One"

    'Jane the Virgin' Boss on Season 4 Finale: 'I Knew It Would Be the Ultimate Surprise'

    While longsuffering Mildred Pierce was enduring one family trial after another during HBO’s five-part miniseries, it was the composer of such Coen brothers’ movies as “True Grit” and “Fargo” who kept the mood somber and restrained. “Mildred Pierce” was Carter Burwell’s first television score, and its three-plus hours of music was the most he has […]

  • WGA Writers Contract Talks

    Writers Guild Seeks to Reshape Talent Agency Business in Proposed Deal

    While longsuffering Mildred Pierce was enduring one family trial after another during HBO’s five-part miniseries, it was the composer of such Coen brothers’ movies as “True Grit” and “Fargo” who kept the mood somber and restrained. “Mildred Pierce” was Carter Burwell’s first television score, and its three-plus hours of music was the most he has […]

  • charlie corwin imgine entertainment

    Charlie Corwin Exits Imagine CEO Post

    While longsuffering Mildred Pierce was enduring one family trial after another during HBO’s five-part miniseries, it was the composer of such Coen brothers’ movies as “True Grit” and “Fargo” who kept the mood somber and restrained. “Mildred Pierce” was Carter Burwell’s first television score, and its three-plus hours of music was the most he has […]

  • Obit Obituary Placeholder

    TV and Film Producer Susan Reiner Dies at 69

    While longsuffering Mildred Pierce was enduring one family trial after another during HBO’s five-part miniseries, it was the composer of such Coen brothers’ movies as “True Grit” and “Fargo” who kept the mood somber and restrained. “Mildred Pierce” was Carter Burwell’s first television score, and its three-plus hours of music was the most he has […]

  • No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No

    10 Works That Influenced 'Westworld'

    While longsuffering Mildred Pierce was enduring one family trial after another during HBO’s five-part miniseries, it was the composer of such Coen brothers’ movies as “True Grit” and “Fargo” who kept the mood somber and restrained. “Mildred Pierce” was Carter Burwell’s first television score, and its three-plus hours of music was the most he has […]

  • Idina MenzelLA Premiere of "Coco", Los

    'American Idol': Idina Menzel to Mentor Disney-Themed Night (EXCLUSIVE)

    While longsuffering Mildred Pierce was enduring one family trial after another during HBO’s five-part miniseries, it was the composer of such Coen brothers’ movies as “True Grit” and “Fargo” who kept the mood somber and restrained. “Mildred Pierce” was Carter Burwell’s first television score, and its three-plus hours of music was the most he has […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content