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Ronit Seter

(b Haifa, Israel, 7 Dec 1957). Israeli composer.

She studied at the Rubin Israel Academy of Music, Tel Aviv University (BA 1982) with Abel Ehrlich and Yitzhak Sadai, in Berlin with Dieter Schnebel (1983–4), at Bard College (MFA 1987), where her teachers included Eli Yarden and Joan Tower, and at the University of California at San Diego (PhD 1993) with Roger Reynolds and Brian Ferneyhough. She has taught at the Darmstadt summer courses (1990–98, 2004, 2010), where she received the Kranichstein prize (1992), at the University of California, San Diego (1997–2006), at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna (2006–9), and at Harvard University (from 2009), where she became the first woman composer to serve as a senior professor of composition. Her honors include an Asahi Shimbun Fellowship for a year residency in Tokyo (...

Article

David Z. Kushner

(b Richmond, VA, 6 Sept 1882; d Richmond, VA, 15 Aug 1963). Pianist and composer.

He attended the University of Virginia (BA 1901) and went on to study in Vienna, where his teachers included Theodor Leschetizky and Karel Navrátil. His early works, among them the Sonata Virginianesque (1906) for violin and piano, and the piano works In the South (1906), At the Fair (1907, a six-movement suite whose first and last movements are titled, respectively, “Hoochie-Coochie Dance” and “Banjo-picker”), and Sonate noble (1908) blend American folk material with traditional contrapuntal techniques, elements that remained important to his compositional style. He made his recital debut in Berlin in 1907 and subsequently performed in Paris, London, and Vienna to great critical acclaim. An interest in and admiration for German culture are manifest in Sonate psychologique (its title was originally in German) completed in ...

Article

Jon Burlingame

[Prendergast, John Barry]

(b York, England, 3 Nov 1933; d Oyster Bay, NY, 30 Jan 2011). English composer.

As a boy he worked at his father's theater chain in the north of England and listened to such established Hollywood composers as Steiner, Korngold, and Waxman. He contemplated a career as a film composer and left school to study music with Francis Jackson, then the Master of Music at York Minster. During his national service (1952–5) he studied jazz arranging and orchestration by mail with Stan Kenton's famous arranger William Russo.

In 1957 he formed the John Barry Seven, a jazz-rock group, and was music director for the singer Adam Faith on several hit songs, including “What do you Want” (1959, Parlophone). The Seven's recording “Hit and Miss” (1960, EMI) was adopted as the theme for the BBC's popular television show Juke Box Jury. Around this time Barry wrote, performed, and recorded pop music, appearing with his group on such influential shows as Six-Five Special...

Article

Christopher Palmer, Clifford McCarty, Martin Marks and Nathan Platte

(b New York, NY, 4 April 1922; d Ojai, CA, 18 Aug 2004). Composer and conductor. He was trained as a pianist but also studied composition with Israel Citkowitz, Roger Sessions, Ivan Langstroth and Stefan Wolpe. He attended New York University, then enlisted in the Army Air Corps (1942); he arranged and composed music for some 80 programs for the Armed Forces Radio Service and was a concert pianist for three years after his discharge. Norman Corwin then engaged him to score radio drama, which led to composition for films; Bernstein's third film, Sudden Fear (1952), attracted favorable attention. In 1955, despite suffering career difficulties due to McCarthyism (see Marmorstein), he rose to sudden prominence with his score for The Man with the Golden Arm. In this, as in several scores that followed (e.g. Walk on the Wild Side, 1962), he effectively blended jazz into a modern symphonic idiom to suit gritty stories and contemporary settings. He subsequently became known for his rousing scores for westerns and action films (notably ...

Article

Kate Daubney

(b New York, NY, 21 Nov 1896; d Beverly Hills, CA, 24 May 1960). Composer, arranger, orchestrator, and conductor. He studied the piano with Maurice Gould and Jeanne Franco and composition and orchestration with Frank Saddler. During the 1920s he worked as an arranger for Broadway musicals, including The Girlfriend, Manhattan Mary, and the Ziegfeld Follies of 1920 and 1921. He also wrote songs for the 1922 musical Glory. He established the De Packh Ensemble, which he conducted between 1928 and 1931, then in 1933 he went to Hollywood as an arranger and orchestrator. He worked first for MGM and smaller studios on films such as The Dancing Lady (1933) and Rip Tide (1934). He was also one of the team of five principal orchestrators who assisted composer Max Steiner with Gone with the Wind (1939), a score that exemplifies the richness of orchestral timbre and complexity of arrangement that were hallmarks of film music of the time. In the early 1940s he moved to Twentieth Century Fox, where he worked on a number of Betty Grable musicals, including ...

Article

revised by Martin Marks

[Daniel Robert]

(b Los Angeles, CA, 29 May 1953). Composer, rock singer, arranger, and guitarist. With his brother Richard he formed the theater company the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo in the 1970s, which in 1979 became Oingo Boingo, an eight-piece, new wave band led by Elfman as vocalist and songwriter. During the 1980s the band developed a distinctive synthesizer and horn-based sound; occasionally its songs were featured in youth-market films, such as for the title song of Weird Science (1985), but its ten or so albums had limited commercial success and it formally broke up in 1995.

Beginning in 1985 Elfman also began scoring films, becoming especially well known for his association with the director Tim Burton; after Batman (1989), he became one of Hollywood's most sought-after younger composers. He has worked on nearly all of Burton's films, creating colorful, rhythmically driving and knowingly referential scores, well matched to Burton's surreal style. Elfman has also written the theme music for many television shows, notably “The Simpsons”. Objecting to the overbearing use of sound effects in such action-driven films as ...

Article

revised by Martin Marks

(b Brooklyn, NY, 2 May 1954). Composer. He learned piano as a child and in his teens also played trumpet and sang in a touring blues band. In the 1970s he studied at the Manhattan School with John Corigliano (ii) and later informally with Aaron Copland. His first important works were for classical chamber ensembles. The largest and best known of his concert works is Vietnam Oratorio, first performed in April 1995 to mark the 20th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. Its texts are in Vietnamese, Latin, and English and include poems by Yusef Komunyakaa. Its style is decidedly modern, and the eclectic vocal and instrumental writing includes a prominent solo cello part written for Yo-Yo Ma.

Since the late 1980s Goldenthal has also composed stage and film scores. Of particular interest are his collaborations with the theater director Julie Taymor, his longtime personal companion; these include popular productions of plays by Gozzi for the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a critically acclaimed revival of the oratorio-like ...

Article

revised by Martin Marks

[Jerrald]

(b Los Angeles, CA, 10 Feb 1929; d Beverly Hills, CA, 21 July 2004). Composer and conductor. In the 1940s he studied the piano with Jakob Gimpel and theory and composition with Castelnuovo-Tedesco; he also attended Los Angeles City College, as well as Rózsa’s classes at the University of Southern California. In the 1950s he worked primarily for CBS, composing and conducting music first for radio, then for television. His television credits include numerous scores for such live dramatic programs as Climax! and Playhouse 90, as well as for episodes of long-running series such as Gunsmoke and The Twilight Zone. Although he continued to write for television with some frequency during the 1960s and 70s, after 1962 he mostly scored feature films. Over four decades he completed scores for more than 160 films and collaborated repeatedly with directors including Schaffner, Ridley Scott, Dante, Verhoeven and Schepisi. He worked closely with two outstanding orchestrators, Arthur Morton and Alexander Courage....

Article

Geoffrey Block

(Frederick)

(b New York, NY, 2 June 1944; d Los Angeles, CA, 6 Aug 2012). Composer. After demonstrating precocious talent, he became the youngest student to attend the Juilliard School of Music, where he studied piano reluctantly from 1951 to 1965; while still there, he worked as a rehearsal pianist for Funny Girl (1964). In 1965 he attained early success as a popular songwriter when two songs he composed with a high school friend, Howard Liebling, “Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows” and “California Nights,” were recorded by Lesley Gore; one other song he composed as a teenager, “Travelin’ Life,” was recorded years later by Liza Minnelli, another high school friend, on her first album. Concurrently with his studies in music at Queens College, from which he graduated in 1967, Hamlisch was employed for two seasons as a vocal arranger and rehearsal pianist for a wide variety of acclaimed performers on ...

Article

revised by James Wierzbicki

(Warren)

(b Cambridge, MA, 27 March 1920). Conductor, arranger, harmonica player, and composer. He began his professional career in 1938 as a performer and arranger with the Borrah Minevitch Harmonica Rascals. His arrangements for this ensemble brought him to the attention of commercial musicians, and within a few years he was working as an orchestrator for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios on musical films that included Girl Crazy, Meet me in St. Louis, and As Thousands Cheer. After returning to Boston, where he was music director of the Vaughn Monroe Orchestra in the late 1940s, Hayman was named principal arranger for the Boston Pops Orchestra in 1950. In the decades that followed he served as music director for numerous leading entertainers, including Bob Hope, Johnny Cash, Red Skelton, Johnny Carson, Andy Williams, Pat Boone, Olivia Newton-John, and Bobby Vinton. His tune “Ruby” (from the soundtrack for the film Ruby Gentry [1953...