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revised by Martin Marks

(b Philadelphia, PA, 4 Aug 1912; d Los Angeles, CA, 9 Aug 2004). Composer, arranger, conductor, and author. He first learned about music from his father, who conducted an orchestra for silent films. While at school he studied several instruments and played professionally in dance bands; at the University of Pennsylvania he studied composition with Harl McDonald and developed a strong interest in jazz. He went to New York (1934), studied privately with Isadore Freed, and continued to play and arrange for bands; his arrangement of “I got rhythm” impressed Gershwin and won him a position as an arranger at Harms/Chappell.

In 1935 Raksin went to Hollywood to work with Charlie Chaplin on the music for Modern Times. This collaboration yielded one of the most effective original scores ever written for a silent film. He also met Alfred Newman, who nurtured his career as a film composer. Raksin settled permanently in Los Angeles in ...

Article

revised by Martin Marks

(Stephen)

(b South Weymouth, MA, 4 Dec 1940; d Rhinebeck, NY, 7 Nov 2012). Composer. He attended the New England Conservatory of Music (1962–8) and studied the piano with Howard Goding. He then studied in Vienna with Hilda Langer-Rühl (1972–4), later becoming the director of the Music School at Rivers (Weston, MA, 1980–84). While there, he met the film producer Ismail Merchant and the director James Ivory, who helped him to make a documentary about Mannes's musically gifted children, Sweet Sounds (1976). Two years later he was asked to score the Merchant–Ivory adaptation of Henry James's The Europeans (1979). He scored more than a dozen films directed by Ivory, and worked on other independent films and related projects.

Robbins achieved particular distinction in his music for the three Merchant–Ivory films taken from E.M. Forster novels (A Room with A View...

Article

Gary Galván

(b Hempstead, NY, Oct 12, 1952). American composer, media artist, and educator. Raised in California, she studied music and theater briefly at the University of California, Santa Barbara with emma lou Diemer before pursuing music theory and composition at Humboldt State University in California (BA 1975) where she studied with Charles Moon. Roberts studied contemporary music with robert Ashley and David Behrman at Mills College (MFA 1977), focusing on electronic music and recording media. Postgraduate studies centered on video production and editing as she focused her interdisciplinary skills into multimedia composition.

Her early avant-garde works include Suite for a Small Chamber (1974), an installation piece that included dance-activated sound, and brings to mind 1930s dance experiments with the theremin. Similarly, Factory (1976) echoes the multimedia collaboration, Ballet Mécanique, of George Antheil and Fernand Léger. Roberts endeavored to create a visually percussive piece through a patchwork of video clips. Roberts garnered significant attention with ...

Article

William Rosar

(Heinrich)Erich

(b Milwaukee, WI, 1 May 1901; d Huntington Beach, CA, 11 Feb 1985). Composer. After graduating from the Wisconsin College of Music (1918) he studied in Germany with Hugo Kaun, Rudolf Breithaupt, and Egon Petri. He made his concert debut as a pianist with the Berlin PO in 1922. From 1923 to 1929 he was musical director for Carl Laemmle theaters in Milwaukee (the Alhambra, 1923–6), Washington, DC (the Rialto, 1927–8), and Berlin (1928–9). In 1929 Laemmle brought him to Universal Studios in Hollywood, where he succeeded David Broekman as general music director in 1930. Sometimes writing under the pseudonym Rox Rommell, he was the most prolific composer in Hollywood; he composed music for over 300 films, working for every major motion picture studio, as well as for many independent producers. He wrote music for more Warner Bros. films than any of his colleagues. In ...

Article

David Ades

(b London, 15 June 1910; d Burbank, CA, 23 Aug 1990). Composer, arranger, and conductor. His family immigrated from England when he was four, and he grew up in Chicago, absorbing the vibrant sounds of the emerging jazz scene. During the 1930s he worked with Benny Goodman and other dance bands, eventually moving to Hollywood to work in the film and recording industries. A long association with MGM resulted in many film scores and, after the introduction of LPs, regular record albums. In 1941 he became Judy Garland's first husband, and his radio show “California Melodies” grew into something of an American institution, providing the showcase for his new compositions. In 1943 Rose startled the Light Music establishment with his Holiday for Strings, in turn inspiring a whole generation of composers including Leroy Anderson, Trevor Duncan, and Robert Farnon. Following war service in the US Army Air Force, Rose gained his first Oscar nomination for his score for the ...

Article

Christopher Palmer and Fred Steiner

(b Brooklyn, NY, 7 Sept 1924; d Woodland Hills, CA, 4 March 2008). Composer. Originally trained as a painter, he began musical studies at the age of 15. After war service, he studied composition with Arnold Schoenberg, Roger Sessions, and Luigi Dallapiccola, and the piano with Bernard Abramowitsch. In 1953 he served as composer-in-residence at the Berkshire Music Center and received a Koussevitzky Foundation commission for an opera; however this was never completed. From 1962 to 1966 he lived in Rome where he scored television programs and gained experience as a conductor. He taught at the universities of Southern California and New York, was a member of the board of directors of the California branch of ISCM, and served as musical director of the New Muse, a chamber orchestra specializing in performances of avant-garde music.

An important figure in the history of American film music, his score for ...

Article

revised by Giordano Montecchi

(b Milan, Italy, 3 Dec 1911; d Rome, Italy, 10 April 1979). Italian composer. A child prodigy he was composing at the age of eight. He attended the Milan Conservatory (from 1923), then moved to Rome (1926), where he took his diploma at the St. Cecilia Conservatory (1929). On the advice of Toscanini he studied at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia (1931–2) with Rosario Scalero (composition) and Fritz Reiner (conducting). He formed a friendship with Aaron Copland and discovered American popular song, cinema, and the music of George Gershwin: all these elements were grafted onto his passion for Italian popular song and operetta. Rota's idiom was exceptionally and uninhibitedly responsive to a wide variety of influences and was supported by a masterly technique, an elegant manner, and a capacity for stylistic assimilation.

After World War II Rota established himself as a film composer, despite the low standing it held within the contemporary music scene. In film music he used his eclectic inclinations and treated the boundaries of the film medium as a challenge, so producing some of the finest music of the genre. In ...

Article

Steven D. Wescott

(b Budapest, Hungary, 18 April 1907; d Los Angeles, CA, 27 July 1995). Composer of Hungarian birth. Raised in Budapest and on his father's rural estate in nearby Tomasi, he was exposed to Hungarian peasant music and folk traditions from an early age. He studied the piano with his mother, a classmate of Béla Bartók at the Budapest Academy, and the violin and viola with his uncle, Lajos Berkovits, a musician with the Royal Hungarian Opera. By the age of seven, Rózsa was composing his own works. Later, as a student at the Realgymnasium, he championed the work of Bartók and Zoltán Kodály, keeping his own notebook of collected folktunes.

In 1926 Rózsa left Budapest to enroll at the Leipzig Conservatory, where he studied composition with Hermann Grabner and musicology with Theodor Kroyer. By 1929 his chamber works, published by Breitkopf & Härtel, were being promoted and performed throughout Europe. In ...

Article

Hugh Davies

[rumorarmonium, russolofono, psofarmonio]

Series of four keyboard instruments, based on the principle of the hurdy-gurdy, developed by Luigi Russolo in Thiene and Milan from about 1921 and continued in Paris in 1928–9. They incorporated many of the basic principles and sound qualities of his intonarumori (and probably some of their mechanisms), combining the equivalent of several separate instruments in a single console. The consoles resembled harmoniums; the fourth (and possibly the third) was somewhat larger, about the size of a small chamber organ. The first two were constructed in parallel between about 1921 and 1924 in Thiene, the third, about which no detailed information is available, in 1925–6, and the fourth in 1927–9. Between 1928 or 1929 and 1931 the final rumorarmonio was installed at Studio 28 in Paris, where it was used for accompanying silent films and at other events. A plan to manufacture this version of the instrument commercially came to nothing, and the only surviving ...

Article

Kate Daubney

(b Brookline, MA, 1901; d BelAir, CA, ?17 June 1962). Orchestrator and composer. Part of lyricist Arthur Freed's production unit at MGM, Salinger orchestrated some of the greatest film musicals released during the 1940s and 50s. The unit's first project was Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) directed by Vincente Minelli, with songs by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane. Salinger orchestrated the score within musical adaptation by Roger Edens and musical direction by George Stoll and Lennie Hayton. The musical featured songs that were integrated into the narrative fabric, rather than following the show-stopping Broadway tradition: Salinger shared producer Freed's desire to blend the timbre of the songs with that of the soundtrack as a whole. He used about 36 musicians instead of the 100-strong orchestra usually employed for film musicals. He also worked on other classic film musicals such as The Wizard of Oz (...