Emmys: <I>Lucy and Desi</I> composer David Schwartz
August 1, 2022

Emmys: Lucy and Desi composer David Schwartz

Composer David Schwartz was recognized with an Emmy nomination for his work on the Amazon Studios documentary Lucy and Desi. Directed by Amy Poehler, the film explores the unlikely partnership and enduring legacy of entertainment power couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. In addition to taking risks to be together, they also created one of the most influential shows in the history of television, I Love Lucy

Lucy and Desi is nominated for “Outstanding Music Composition For A Documentary Series Or Special (Original Dramatic Score).” The score straddles a delicate line between laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, notes Schwartz, who says that while the feature is “a fantastic love story, it is also a relationship filed with pain.”

Early on, director Poehler and Schwartz decided an orchestral score would be the best way to tell the story. A 40-piece orchestra, consisting mostly of strings, was conducted by Lucas Richman. The strings were able to showcase both the love story and the tension, often within the same cue.

“Kudos to concert master Charlie Bisharat and the wonderful string players,” says Schwartz. “I wanted the score to be modern, with only a tiny nod to the music of the era and the iconic music of I Love Lucy.”

There are a few moments in the score that called for Jazz and Cuban sounds. 

“Here, the percussion of Luis Conte, sax and flutes by Bob Sheppard, and the guitar and cuatro by Vivian Milanova proved invaluable. Special mention, cellist David Low.”

Schwartz was also able to subtly incorporate analog synths to help bring the music into current times.

“Engineer Scott Sheppard and I mixed at my studio. We used quite a bit of Bob Clearmoutain’s Apogee Domain plug-in to add movement and widen the soundstage. Ruairi O’Flaherty mastered the soundtrack at Echo Mastering.”

According to Schwartz, the collaboration with director Poehler helped take “the music to new heights.”