Press Release from Dragon's Domain:
Dragon’s Domain Records presents JOSEF MENGELE: THE FINAL ACCOUNT, featuring music composed by Joe Harnell for the 1995 documentary directed by Dan Setton, written by Ron Frank, based on the books written by Gerald Posner and John Ware about the infamous German officer and physician. During World War II, Mengele was assigned to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where he conducted torturous experiments on its prisoners, showing no consideration for the suffering of these human specimens. As a member of the team in charge of selecting persons to be sent to the gas chambers, Mengele condemned hundreds of captive Jews and other “undesirables” to their deaths, many after suffering torturous experimentation.
Once hostilities ended in 1945 and war trials were likely to take place against members of the Reich, Mengele fled to South America, lived under assumed names, and avoided capture for some thirty years. In February 1979 he suffered a stroke while swimming in the ocean and drowned. Six years later his suspected remains were unearthed and a forensic exam positively identified the bones as those of Mengele.
The score for JOSEF MENGELE: THE FINAL ACCOUNT is performed by a handful of instruments – piano and synth keyboards, an oboe and cello, mostly if not wholly created via digital samples. Much of the music was meant to be present beneath narration, so Harnell focused on rhythmic arrangements, spare melodies, and recurring and cyclical motifs that wouldn’t conflict with spoken commentary and witness accounts. This atmospheric approach also serves the film’s structure by maintaining a fairly unobtrusive sonic ambiance that is felt more than it is made perceptible. Harnell’s music was provided to the production primarily as a series of library tracks, which Dan Setton (who also served as film editor) then inserted into the film wherever he saw fit. The full tracks as recorded by Harnell are presented here in a historically chronological format, which paint a more coherent musical picture.
JOSEF MENGELE: THE FINAL ACCOUNT was among the final scores Harnell would compose. In fact, Harnell’s last five scores were all for fugitive Nazi documentaries: THE HUNT FOR ADOLF EICHMANN (1994), MENGELE: THE FINAL ACCOUNT (1995), and ANGELS OF VENGEANCE (1995) were directed by Dan Setton for his production company, Set Productions. JOSEF MENGELE: MEDICAL MADMAN OF AUSCHWITZ (1996) was produced by Greystone Communications Inc. for the A&E Network’s BIOGRAPHY television series, and ADOLF EICHMANN - THE SECRET MEMOIRS (2002), Harnell’s last film score, was produced by veteran documentarians Nissim Mossek and Alan Rosenthal for their Biblical Productions company.
Joe Harnell was born in 1924, in the Bronx. He began studying piano at the age of 6. His professional career started at age 14 as jazz pianist playing with name bands while continuing serious musical studies. In high school, he began arranging and studying orchestral instruments. He received a scholarship to the University Of Miami for piano and trombone. In 1943, he entered the Air Force, where he soon began touring with the Glenn Miller Air Force Band, serving both in the United States and Europe. While still in the service, he attended composition classes with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, then later with William Walton in London at the Trinity College Of Music. He returned to the United States and was discharged from the Air Force in 1946. During the summers of 1949 – 1951, he continued his studies in composition with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood. He also held the post of musical director with Grey Advertising in New York City for three years. Joe resumed his professional career as a pianist and arranger and began a new career as musical director for many celebrated singers. Shortly thereafter, he took on a new role as recording artist himself and, to date, recorded 18 albums – among them his Grammy winning “Fly Me To The Moon”.
From 1967 to 1973, Joe was the musical director for THE MIKE DOUGLAS SHOW. Following his success with THE MIKE DOUGLAS SHOW, Joe came to California, where he began his career as a composer of film and television music. Joe composed music for numerous television movies and series including CLIFFHANGERS, HOT PURSUIT, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, V – THE ORIGINAL MINI-SERIES and ALIEN NATION. He has been nominated for an Emmy on three separate occasions for Best Dramatic Score. In his lifetime, he composed over 400 hours of original music for television and motion pictures. His scores for THE BIONIC WOMAN and THE INCREDIBLE HULK heavily influenced the scoring of all Universal television programs in the late 1970’s. His scores used a traditional orchestral approach (influenced by his Jazz roots) using a 32 piece orchestra. He frequently conducted scores from the piano during recording sessions and he performed all the piano and keyboard solos in all of his scores. Joe remained active composing and performing until his passing on July 15th, 2005 from heart failure at the age of 80.
Dragon’s Domain Records presents the original soundtrack recording to JOSEF MENGELE: THE FINAL ACCOUNT in loving memory of the great Joe Harnell. JOSEF MENGELE: THE FINAL ACCOUNT includes liner notes written by author Randall Larson, professionally mastered by Digital Outland.