Martin Davich and James Newton Howard

" Doctors deserve music too "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the regular release

Today, there are many medical dramas. But one of the greatest, if not the greatest is Emergency Room or ER. Spawning 15 seasons of human dramas in the County General Hospital in Chicago, ER was a hit from the very first season. It not only sky rocketed the career of George Clooney, it also became the longest-running American primetime medical drama of all time. The series also received 124 Emmy nominations, the most of any television show in history. So to call ER a part of Television history is putting it mildly.

Personally, I've been a fan of the series from the very first day. And through that I got to know not only James Newton Howard's recognizable tune for the series, I also came in contact with the main composer of the series, Martin Davich. And it is his music that lets the blood and surgeries flow in ER.

The main score of Martin Davich consists of three things, 3 returning elements: a piano that represents the human drama, thereby creating the emotional link with the audience, the percussion that represents the rhythm and pace of the medical emergencies, and an electronic atmosphere that's brought forward with additional synths and flutes. During the series, these elements constantly appear, making the show a roller coaster experience during most of the occasions.

The track that opens this surgery is a known one however. "Theme from ER" is an extra long version of the main theme, composed by James Newton Howard. In this version it's presented with an additional sax that gives it an extra doses of flair. It's known shortened TV version is discovered at the end.

The piano and a lovely sax fuel "Goodbye Baby Susie". "Dr. Lewis and Renee", "Canine Blues" and "Carter, See you Next Fall" deliver a combination of the more atmospheric background music and the more personal sound of the dramatic piano. Furthermore considering the relationship between Doug and Carol became one of the most interesting storylines in the series, composer Davich composed a personal love theme that's heard only for them ("Doug and Carol"). "The Hero" brings forward the main theme on lovely piano while that same piano pours emotion into "Dr. Greene and a Mother's Death".

So far the really enjoyable part. Because besides an amazing song by Marc Cohn and a fitting one of Duncan Sheik, the first part turned out to present the best of the first 2 seasons. Because for better or worse, what follows next is a continuation of the more atmospheric score. We might open with the touching dramatic tone of the piano in "Raul Dies", but after that the focus is put on what was the biggest selling episode in season 2, namely Hell and High Water. Following Doug Ross on a dangerous quest to rescue a trapped boy in a storm drain, the music is atmospheric, suspenseful at times and rhythmically charged all the way. It functions of course much better once you know what it represents, but it is definitely acquired taste. Even the track "Shep Arrives" from another episode listens exactly like the cues from the episode Hell and High Water.

So, in the end ER still remains a score for the fans of the show. The first part of the CD might present us with the lovelier material of the first 2 seasons, it is kinda awkward that the second part is so much more focused on the suspenseful material of the series. It makes the experience a divided one, and therefore easier to skip. Making this Emergency Room only approachable if you're a fan of Carter, Benton, Ross, Green, Hathaway, Weaver, Lewis and all the others that made this show one of the strongest series ever to be seen on Television.


1. Theme from ER * (3.00)
2. Dr. Lewis and Renee from The Birthday Party ** (1.55)
3. Canine Blues from Make of Two Hearts ** (2.26)
4. Goodbye Baby Susie from Fever of Unknown Origin ** (3.08)
5. Doug and Carol from The Gift +* (1.56)
6. Healing Hands: Marc Cohn (4.22) Excellent track
7. The Hero from Hell and High Water +* (1.52)
8. Carter, See You Next Fall from Everything Old is New Again ** (1.26)
9. Reasons for Living: Duncan Sheik (4.30)
10. Dr. Greene and a Mother's Death from Loves Labor Lost ** (2.45)
11. Raul Dies from The Healers ** (2.17)
12. Hell and High Water from Hell and High Water +* (2.35)
13. Hold On from Hell and High Water ** (2.45)
14. Shep Arrives from The Healers ** (3.36)
15. Shattered Glass from Hell and High Water ** (2.09)
16. Theme from ER (TV version) * (0.50)
17. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear: Mike Finnegan (2.30)

* Performed and written by James Newton Howard
** Composed, Arranged and Performed by Martin Davich
+* Composed by James Newton Howard and Martin Davich

Total Length: 44.57
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 5 votes - average 3.8/5)

Released by

Atlantic 82942 (regular release 1996)