Producer John Hoffman was instrumental in selecting the music for the HBO documentary In Memoriam: New York City, 9/11/01. He explains how the music was chosen and why HBO decided to re-record it with the New York Philharmonic.
“Sheila Nevins, our executive producer of original programming, who is also a producer on this show, wanted to involve as many New York institutions as possible,” says Hoffman. “The idea for the program was brought to us by Brad Grey, who is the executive producer of The Sopranos.
“Let me back up a bit: In Memoriam: New York City, 9/11/01 looks at 9/11 from two different perspectives. First of all, we have Mayor Guiliani talking about how he and the city government functioned that day, and the ways in which democracy itself was challenged.
“Additionally, we used the work of hundreds of New Yorkers who picked up their cameras that day to document one of the most important events of our time. We solicited material from filmmakers and the networks, all of which came to us voluntarily. We placed ads in the Village Voice, spread the word through independent film groups and other organizations. At this time, we probably have the largest archive of video material documenting 9/11 and the days following. Any and all profits coming out of this project will go to the September 11 fund.
“As I said, Sheila wanted to involve New York organizations as much as possible, and we wanted American concert music to comprise the underscore. Naturally, the New York Philharmonic came to mind. Larry Rock and the orchestra’s general manager, Paul Meecham, opened up their archives to us. In particular, I went through all — or most — of the boxed set American Celebration, which Larry had suggested I listen to. I found sections that I brought to our editor, Paula Herredia, and everyone agreed that the music of Copeland and Barber, in particular, fit the images perfectly.
“The tracks that we cut picture to came from records made over the last 60 years. Getting the rights and paying AF of M fees to thousands of people and their estates would have been a nightmare. It made better business sense to employ the current Philharmonic musicians and work with music publishers for sync rights.”