Grofé, Ferde [Ferdinand] (Rudolf von )
- Jim Farrington
(Rudolf von )
(b New York, NY, March 27, 1892; d Santa Monica, CA, April 3, 1972). American composer, arranger, conductor, and pianist. Born into a musical family, his grandfather and uncle were principals in the Los Angeles SO, his mother a professional cellist, and his father a singer. As a child he studied with Otto Leonhardt in Germany (1900–2). By 1907 he was performing professionally as a pianist and violinist at dances, and as an alto horn player in brass bands. Before moving east with Paul Whiteman in 1920, he played in the Los Angeles SO, the San Francisco SO, on film sets, and in cabarets, vaudeville houses, and theaters throughout the American west and southwest. His earliest compositions date from around 1908.
Grofé’s first acquaintance with jazz commenced when he played with and started arranging for Art Guerin, who led one of the first true jazz bands in San Francisco. He was hired by Whiteman in ...