Edgardo Simone (1952-2024)

August 2023 was a busy month for the Neumation team. Taking a break from our usual day-to-day work, we made a special trip to Southern California. We divided our time between Los Angeles, attending a Les Baxter concert in San Diego (Tiki Oasis), and hanging out at Danny Elfman’s Big Mess concert in Chula Vista. We were very graciously hosted by orchestrator Edgardo Simone and his wife Jean in Glendale. The few days we spent with the Simone’s were the highlight of our trip—to say they were kind people is an understatement. Sadly, Ed passed away several weeks ago following a brain bleed. In 2019, he took a break from orchestrating to rehab at home following brain surgery. To the end, he was working on music projects, playing the bass, and cracking jokes. We feel it timely to share our little story about Ed. 

Edgardo spent most of his career working behind the scenes. It is a shame more people didn’t have the chance to meet him, because he was truly a character. He had a laid back, relaxed personality and his sense of humor was very dry and sardonic. If he didn’t say it with a smile, you might have thought he was serious, but he wasn’t! He didn’t have much of a filter. If it came to his mind, he said it. Ed would tell a joke, then burst into laughter. Within moments of being in his presence, it was clear he was a man of good humor. The first night in the Simone home, we were in the studio library deep in the bowels of the Spanish revival house that Ed restored with his own two hands (a man of many talents). He learned over the bannister and summoned us in a mock June Cleaver, 1950’s motherly voice, “Oh children, come to dinner.” 

Over dinner, Ed and Jean shared stories about their life together. Their dining room table had been featured in The Song of Bernadette—Ed’s grandfather, Edgardo Simone (1890-1958), was a sculptor who provided the sculptures used in the film. The large wooden table was later procured by the Simone’s. Many of the elder Edgardo’s sculptures were displayed throughout the house. The living room, down a flight of stairs from the dining room, had a massive ceiling and the walls were covered in beautiful art. We would point out something interesting and Ed just would say, “yeah that’s nifty, isn’t it?” 

Ed would tell stories about his long career as if they were no big deal—to us, they were.  He dropped out of high school and got two Masters Degrees within nine months from the University of Oregon. Eastman and Harvard both offered him a scholarship for a Doctorate, but he turned them down and moved to Hollywood instead. Jean mentioned that Ed joined MENSA to meet girls, which is totally in character. 

Ed was an all-around great guy. He was an incredibly bright, gifted musician. His studio was filled with bass guitars—as was the bathroom (no joke) and probably other rooms we didn’t see. He knew the in’s and out’s of the orchestra and could write anything. He was extremely well read and had a vast library of music literature and scores, many of which he had tracked down from around the globe. His library of CD’s was floor to ceiling in gorgeous wooden shelves that covered two ends of his listening room. Of course, Ed restored all of the woodwork himself, as he did for nearly everything else in the house. Ed was a true composer in every sense of the word. A craftsman. A musician’s musician. He started his career ghostwriting for some well known composers in the 1980s. We dug up composer sketches printed on decaying fax paper. They were nothing more than scribbles and chicken scratch. Ed would chuckle and say, “I saved that guy’s hide. He wrote a pretty tune, though.” He was too modest for someone of his talent. With his passing, so much knowledge is now lost. The world will never know everything he did. 

Ed’s hiatus from work had clearly taken a toll. Music was his life and he needed to get his mind back to the grind. He said would be delighted to help us engrave Goldsmith’s Planet of the Apes, if we were to ever publish it. How could we say no? After our hotel reservations didn’t pan out in San Diego, we raced back to Glendale exhausted. Upon arriving at Ed’s at 3:00 a.m., he invited us in and said, “So, you came back, huh?” Then he chuckled. 

(Photograph: Dan Goldwasser, courtesy ScoringSessions.com)

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