(b Haverstraw, NY, 25 Aug 1908; d Los Angeles, CA, 3 Feb 1980). Musical director, orchestrator, and conductor. His association with cinema music began as a young man with employment as a pianist and organist for a silent movie theater in Mechanicsville, New York. He became a protégé of Leo Forbstein, the first musical director at Warner Bros.’ studios, after helping with the scoring of the first sound film, The Jazz Singer (1927). He effectively served his apprenticeship with Warner Bros., rising through the music department as a performer and orchestrator-arranger. During this period he orchestrated for Max Steiner on Daughters Courageous (1939). When Forbstein retired in 1947, Heindorf succeeded him, remaining as head of the department until 1959, although he continued to conduct and arrange scores. He was nominated for 18 Academy Awards between 1942 and 1968 and received three: for the musical direction on ...
Electronic keyboard instrument developed by Bruno Helberger (b Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 1884; d Vienna, Austria, 1951) from the Hellertion, the result of an earlier collaboration with Peter Lertes. The first version of the Heliophon was completed in Berlin in 1936, but it was destroyed during World War II; a second version was built in Vienna in 1947 (one of the two models is now in D.B.im). Helberger continued to develop and improve the instrument until his death, after which the work was continued in Vienna by Wolfgang Wehrmann. The sounds of the Heliophon are generated by electronic oscillators. Its total range is seven octaves and it has two 58-note, touch-sensitive manuals (staggered as in a ‘spinet’ organ), on each of which up to three pitches (with different timbres) can be played simultaneously; six pedals control individual volume levels and two knee-levers produce vibrato. In front of each manual is a ribbon controller, which is used to create glissandos and timbre changes....
Monophonic electronic instrument developed in 1928–9 by Bruno Helberger (b Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 1884; d Vienna, Austria, 1951) and Peter Lertes of Leipzig (from whose names that of the instrument was derived), several variants of which were constructed with the assistance of Schneider-Opel in Frankfurt. Helberger, who had studied the piano with Artur Schnabel, was well known at the time as a pianist; Lertes was an electrical engineer and in 1933 published a survey of electronic instruments. The Hellertion was modified up to the mid-1930s, and a second version, also called the Heliophon, was demonstrated in 1936 and further developed by Helberger in Vienna after World War II.
The Hellertion introduced the fingerboard or ribbon controller that became better known in the trautonium and was reintroduced in the mid-1960s in the Moog synthesizer. When the flat, leather-covered metallic ribbon is depressed it makes contact with a resistance strip; depression at different points along the ribbon alters the resistance and produces different frequencies from an audio oscillator, while the degree of pressure affects the loudness. The pitch range of the Hellertion is approximately five octaves, and special markings aid pitch orientation and alignment. The instrument was sometimes used in conjunction with a piano (in the manner of the somewhat later piano attachment), the melody line being played on the Hellertion and the accompaniment on the piano. More ribbons were added to make at first two, then four (by the end of ...
(b Los Angeles, 14 Aug 1953; d Santa Barbara, CA, 22 June 2015). American film composer and conductor. The son of the Bohemian American production designer Harry Horner, James Horner studied at the RCM, where his teachers included György Ligeti. He moved to California in the early 1970s and attended the University of the Pacific and then USC. He then earned the master’s degree in composition and music theory at UCLA, where he also taught music theory and worked on a doctorate; his professors included Paul Chihara. In 1978 Horner scored a series of films for the American Film Institute (including The Watcher), and in 1979 he began scoring feature-length films, including work for B-movie producer Roger Corman.
Horner often incorporates electronic elements, choral or solo vocal music (including wordless female voices), and Celtic and other ‘world music’ elements. He has scored a large number of science fiction and action films, and also many dramas and children’s films, totaling nearly one hundred feature film scores as of ...
Donald A. Henriques
(b Mazatlán, Mexico, Nov 18, 1917; d Mérida, Mexico, April 15, 1957). Mexican film actor and singer. Pedro Infante was the third of nine children born into a working-class family. His formative years were spent in Guamúchil, Sinaloa, where his father was a musician and music teacher. In his teen years, Infante apprenticed in carpentry and even made his own guitar. He played violin, guitar, and percussion in his father’s orchestra and, by 1937, was leading his own group.
In the hopes of furthering his musical career, Pedro Infante moved to Mexico City in 1939. His singing debut on Radio XEB in 1940 was soon followed by appearances on Radio XEW. Infante’s film career coincided with the era identified as the “golden age” of Mexican film. His first significant roles were in La feria de las flores and Jesusita en Chihuahua, both released in 1942. His lead charro...
(b Lyons, France, 13 Sept 1924; d Malibu, CA, 28 March 2009). French composer. He studied engineering at the University of Lyons and at the Sorbonne, then attended the Paris Conservatoire, studying percussion with Passerone and composition with Honegger and Joseph Martenot, inventor of the ondes martenot. He served in the army during World War II, and in the late 1940s played percussion in the navy band, with the Orchestre Radio-Symphonique, and with the Compagnie Renaud-Barrault, where he became friends with Boulez and Delerue. When Jean Vilar became director of the Théâtre National Populaire, he made Jarre his musical director, resident composer, and conductor. In 1952 Georges Franju asked him to write the score for Hôtel des invalides. The film went on to become a minor classic, and Jarre turned henceforth almost exclusively to film music, writing scores for many French directors, including Jacques Demy, Alain Resnais, and Jean-Paul Rappeneau. His score for ...
The Jazz Singer (1927). Directed by Alan Crosland. Shown: theatre featuring marquee celebrating the film's opening. Warner Bros.
Pictures/Photofest ©Warner Bros. Pictures
American movie composer and conductor of the Passion of the Christ Symphony John C. Debney during the premiere at the 57th Smetana's Litomysl Opera festival on June 21, 2015 in Litomysl, Czech Republic.
Photo/Josef Vostarek (CTK via AP Images)
(b Trikala, Greece, April 7, 1922; d Athens, Greece, April 8, 1990). Greek composer and lyricist. He was of middle-class origin and finished high school in 1941. He became fascinated with rebetiko and the music of the refugees from Asia Minor, and he was also influenced by religious Byzantine and folk music. From 1941 until 1947 he worked as a bouzouki player in taverns and nightclubs in Trikala and especially Thessaloniki. He was lauded for his first recorded compositions, made in 1947 and including the emblematic laïko song Nychtose choris fengari (‘The Night Fell with No Moon’), which were invested with various social and political meanings as a result of the civil war. In the following years he cooperated with several important laïko creators, and had dozens of hits in the late rebetiko style with singers like Haskil, Tsaousakis, and Bellou, and in grieving or Indian style with singers like Kazantzidis, Gavalas, Angelopoulos, Menidiatis, and Lydia. From ...
Radio show and cybercast devoted to new music. Hosted by composers Dennis Báthory-Kitsz (“Kalvos”) and David Gunn (“Damian”), the show aired weekly from 1995 to 2005 on the WGDR-FM 91.1 station at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. Since 2005, new K&D shows have been made available online, albeit on an occasional and irregular basis. Kalvos & Damian’s New Music Sesquihour started on 27 May 1995 as a 90-minute weekly summer radio show. That September they expanded to a permanent two-hour slot, retitled Kalvos & Damian’s New Music Bazaar, and introduced a website (
K&D shows are characterized by a humorous, quirky, playful, and unpretentious tone. Their opening segment consists of a ten-minute “introductory essay,” an often zany, Dadaist narrative written and read by Damian, accompanied by sound effects and banter from Kalvos. The main portion of the show is devoted to interviews and recordings of new music. Over the years, K&D has interviewed a vast range of contemporary composers: experimental and mainstream, symphonic and electronic, prominent and emerging, Vermont natives and overseas figures. K&D also ran online mentoring programs for junior high and high school students and organized the Ought-One Festival of Non-Pop in Montpelier, Vermont. After Báthory-Kitsz and Gunn decided to pursue new projects, the final radio broadcast of K&D aired on ...
Christopher Palmer and Randall D. Larson
(b Warsaw, Poland, 5 Feb 1902; d Los Angeles, CA, 26 April 1983). Composer of Polish birth. He was educated at the Warsaw Conservatory and was active as composer and pianist in Warsaw, Berlin, Vienna, London, and Paris before settling in Hollywood and joining the staff of MGM in 1940. He was one of a number of versatile musicians of European origin and orientation who helped to create Hollywood music. He composed a number of popular songs besides his articulate and closely knit film scores. His best work dates from the 1960s: Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) and Lord Jim (1965) reveal a pronounced flair for musical depiction of the sea and tropical landscapes. Kaper's theme from Green Dolphin Street (1947) became popularized when recorded in a jazz idiom by Miles Davis; his theme for Invitation (1952) was also widely recorded. Kaper's dramatic score for the science fiction film ...
(b Yambol, 30 March 1933; d Plovdiv, 12 April 2014). Bulgarian composer and music educator, famous for his work in different genres but mostly for his distinctive contribution to the field of film music. He graduated from the Bulgarian State Conservatory in 1961 under Pancho Vladigerov (composition) and Assen Dimitrov (conducting). Author of the music for over 120 cartoons and more than 40 feature films, Karadimchev also wrote songs for rock bands, marked usually by laconic yet highly attractive melodic lines. His lyrical Byala tishina (‘White Silence’), performed by Georgi Minchev and The Shturtzite, made a particular breakthrough for Bulgarian rock music on the national level by winning the first prize at The Golden Orpheus Pop Music Festival in 1967. And his close collaboration with The Tangra in the early 1980s developed ‘the melodic style of rock’ in songs such as Bogatstvo (‘Fortune’) and Nashiat grad (‘Our Town’). Some of his title songs written for movies such as the ...
(b Pittsburgh, PA, Nov 16, 1889; d New York, NY, June 2, 1961). American librettist and director. He first worked as a journalist, serving for a time as head of the drama desk at the New York Times, but resigned in order to write his own plays. His first libretto, produced in collaboration with Marc Connelly, was for Helen of Troy, New York (1923; music by B. Kalmar and H. Ruby) and established his reputation for witty and satirical writing. He then created two important shows for the Marx Brothers, The Cocoanuts (1925; I. Berlin) and, with Morrie Ryskind, Animal Crackers (1928; Kalmar and Ruby), and also collaborated with Ryskind on the libretto for the highly successful Of Thee I Sing (1931; G. Gershwin), the first musical to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize for drama, and Let ’Em Eat Cake (1933; Gershwin). Kaufman contributed both libretto and lyrics for ...
(b Milwaukee, WI, 5 April 1899; d Baden-Baden, Germany, 3 Jan 1980). German composer of American birth, son of Hugo Kaun. Largely self-taught as a composer, he was tutored by his father, and studied violin and piano while attending Gymnasium in Berlin. During World War I he served in the German army, playing clarinet in a military band. After the war he arranged and conducted for RCA Victor in Berlin for several years. In 1924 he moved to the United States, where he worked as a music copyist in New York, conducted at the Alhambra Theater, Milwaukee (1924), and taught at the Eastman School of Music (1925–8). Recognized particularly for his orchestrations, he arranged music from Richard Wagner's music dramas for the New York release of Fritz Lang's film Siegfried and orchestrated Howard Hanson's Legend of Beowulf and Organ Concerto.
In 1930 Kaun was invited to Hollywood by Heinz Roemheld, music director of Universal Studios. Over the following decade he worked for both Warner Bros. and Paramount, composing music for over 170 films; his first assignments included the first full-length score for a sound film (...
(b Plzeň, 19 April 1940). Czech artist. He studied at the Pedagogical Faculty, Preliminary Art School, Academy of Fine Arts, and Mathematical Faculty of Charles University, none of which he finished. His career began in the 1960s and has included painting, happenings, performances, musical compositions, collages, and objects. Between 1999 and 2011, he was director at the National Gallery in Prague, and in 1990 started leading an intermedia class at the Academy of Visual Arts. He is the recipient of a number of grants and prizes, including DAAD, Schloss Bleckede, Design Werkstatt, and Akademie Schloss Solitude.
Best known as a controversial artist working in a variety of disciplines, Knížák has engaged with music in many ways throughout his career. In his early teens, he began composing popular songs under the influence of Jaroslav Ježek and the popular music of the day. In 1965 he began making a series titled ‘Destroyed Music’, in which he scratched, broke, painted over, or burnt vinyl records, and then played them back, the final artifact being either a new record or an installation. He also applied this method to written music, creating a number of diverse collages using both his own and other people’s music, and making use of photographs and press clippings in addition to printed and handwritten scores....
(b Olomouc, 3 May 1967). Czech violinist. Raised in a musical family, she studied at the People’s School of Art in Opava with Marcela Kuvíková, then at the Ostrava Conservatory with Vítězslav Kuzník and at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (AMU) with the professors Jiří Vlach, Jiří Novák, and Ivan Štraus. She also took part in master classes with Josef Gingold in Greensboro, NC and with Wolfgang Marschner in Weimar. In 1990 she received a scholarship to the International Menuhin Music Academy in Gstaad, Switzerland, where she studied with Alberto Lysy.
In 1997, she became a laureate of the Prague Spring International Violin Competition. She has also received the Gideon Klein Prize, the Bärenreiter Prize, the Supraphon Prize, the Prize of the City of Prague, and the Prague Spring Foundation Prize. In 2005 she represented the Czech Republic at the World Exhibition in Aichi, Japan, together with the Prague Philharmonic....
(b New York, NY, Feb 2, 1912; d New York, NY, Jan 5, 1997). American musical theater and film composer. After studying the piano as a child, Lane started to write for his school band. At age 14, he was commissioned to compose for an unproduced version of the off-Broadway revue, Greenwich Village Follies. While still in his teens, he joined the Remick Music Company as a song plugger and was encouraged by the Gershwins. He wrote songs with Howard Dietz for the revue Three’s a Crowd (1930), and one with Harold Adamson for The Third Little Show (1931). He then joined forces with Adamson to compose the score for Earl Carroll’s Vanities of 1931.
With the onset of the Great Depression, Lane moved to Hollywood and composed for films, often with Adamson. With Frank Loesser he wrote “The lady’s in love with you” (...
Paul R. Laird
[Mitchnick, Irwin ]
(b Brooklyn, NY, Jan 30, 1928). American composer, producer, and director. After earning a BA and MA from the Yale School, where he studied with paul Hindemith , he worked as a jazz musician and from 1954 wrote music for television and commercial jingles, such as “Nobody doesn’t Like Sara Lee.” In 1957 Leigh formed the company Music Makers as a focus for these efforts. He wrote incidental music for two plays, Too Good to be True (1963) and Never Live over a Pretzel Factory (1964), and then composed with the lyricist Joe Darion the score for the Broadway hit Man of La Mancha (1965). Their Tony Award-winning score includes spirited “Spanish” gestures and songs that effectively describe characters and situations. The show itself, which won a Tony Award for Best Musical, ran 2328 performances and has remained popular. Leigh also wrote the scores for ...
revised by Steven E. Gilbert
(b Tucson, AZ, 20 Feb 1911; d Tuscon, AZ, 1 July 2007). Composer and instrumentalist. At an early age he learnt, mostly by himself, to play clarinet, oboe, saxophone, and piano and performed locally in jazz bands and school music groups. He studied composition with Otto Luening at the University of Arizona (BM 1933, MM 1935), where he later taught (1957–76). He also taught at Bennington College (1935–46) and in various summer music programs. He appeared as an oboe and clarinet soloist both live and on New Music Quarterly Recordings. In 1941 he toured South America as a member of the League of Composers Woodwind Quintet. During the years 1945–7 he was a composer and arranger for Triumph Films in New York, producing scores for Farewell to Yesterday, The Man with my Face, and a number of short subjects. In 1952, on commission by ...