Dan Foliart (center) accepts his Top Network TV Series award from ASCAP's Shawn LeMone and Amanda Shoffner at the 2019 ASCAP Screen Music Awards

Dan Foliart: An Interview with Ron Sadoff

June 26, 2019

After 43 consecutive years as a TV composer, Dan Foliart and his music are indelibly etched on the landscape of network television. A mainstay of American television music, Foliart’s music has found new life both in syndication and revival - he and collaborator Howard Pearl were recently given the Top Network TV Series Award at the 2019 ASCAP Screen Music Award for their classic theme to Roseanne. His impact is enormous by the numbers (and not just 7th Heaven or 8 Simple Rules) and emotionally, as a new generation discovers his iconic sound.

Here are a few revealing excerpts from Foliart’s recent interview with Ron Sadoff, originally published in the journal Music and the Moving Image[1].

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On his early influences and inspirations:

“My mother was a great pianist, and she was a big influence on my life and continued to be my biggest fan. She watched every single TV show I ever did, I mean every single one, and we’d talk afterwards. She thought I should listen to some classical music when I was growing up as a kid, and so it was Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique. It was Dvorak’s New World Symphony. It was more coming from those kind of works than it was movie scores. I heard one piece, the Grand Canyon Suite by Ferde Grofé, and that has remained one of the great inspirations in my life. When I was writing Oklahoma Trilogy, this guy reviewed it and loved it, and he compared it to the Grand Canyon Suite, which to me was the ultimate compliment.”

On his style:

“My style has always been a little pop, a little melodic. I remember in college my professor asking me who my favorite composer was, and I said two things: I said, ‘Ferde Grofé,’ and he said, ‘Well that’s simply movie music without the movie,’ and I took that as kind of a condescending comment, but maybe that’s what that really is. The other person I said was Burt Bacharach.”

On how he approaches each project:

“Well, here’s the thing I would tell any person starting out. You gotta love what you do more than anything in the world. If it’s music, you’ve got to love it more than anything. You’ve got to have a real passion for it. So I think as you’ve mentioned all those shows, I think I try to bring a passion to everything. I try to bring the enthusiasm I feel into every project. I think one of the things I have tried to do is imbue every show with its own character, which is what you inferred there. If you look at my first work, I mean it’s entirely different than what I ended up doing later on, and I think it’s because you have to take into consideration a little bit of what’s going on musically in the time you live in.”

On creativity and giving back to the next generation:

“I think as we get through our lives—you’ve probably found this in your own life—you have different pools. I’ve got the creative pool where I write my music, but this is a different pool, and this is basically doing what I can to impart some of the knowledge that I have. I’ve been working for around thirty-five years now in the business, and just being able to help people as they are starting their careers, being able to give them some insight at some of the challenges they might face or be subjected to, but also trying to keep them inspired about what we’re doing, is rewarding.”

Click here to read a watermarked version of the entire extended interview.

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This article is available to ASCAP members by special arrangement. © Copyright 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. No part of this article may be reproduced, photocopied, posted online, or distributed through any means without the permission of the University of Illinois Press.

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[1] Sadoff, Ron. "Dan Foliart: An Interview with Ron Sadoff." Music and the Moving Image 12, no. 1 (2019): 38-68. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/musimoviimag.12.1.0038