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RICHARD ADDINSELL – Fathers of Film Music, Part 16

July 4, 2016 Leave a comment

Richard AddinsellArticle by Craig Lysy

Born: 13 January 1904, London, England.
Died: 14 November 1977.

Richard Stewart Addinsell was the youngest of two sons born to business accountant Arthur Addinsell and his wife, Annie Beatrice Richards. His mother was so possessive and protective of young Richard that he was kept from public school and instead educated at home. Although fascinated by music, he was enrolled by his family at Hertford School, Oxford to pursue a degree in Law. He found his studies uninspiring and after two terms left, never to return. On his own initiative, he enrolled in the Royal College of Music, where he hoped to pursue his true passion – music. Yet he was not a good student and soon left the college to express his talent in the real world. In 1926 he began collaborating with writer Noel Grey, writing songs for the Andre Charlot revue to support himself. This led to travel to the continent where he visited the major musical and theatrical cultural centers of the day, including Berlin and Vienna. By chance he came to meet singers Gertrude Lawrence and Clemence Dane, with whom he began a fruitful collaboration, which led to success theatrically. He collaborated with Dane to provide incidental music for Adam’s Opera in 1929, and then in 1932 an Eva Le Gallienne adaptation of the Lewis Carroll’s alice in Wonderland tale. These successes were fortuitous in that their notoriety opened an amazing door – film work. Read more…

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Categories: Fathers of Film Music

NINO ROTA – Fathers of Film Music, Part 15

May 1, 2016 Leave a comment

Nino RotaArticle by Craig Lysy

Born: 3 December 1911, Milan, Italy.
Died: 10 April 1979.

Giovanni Rota was born to Emesta Rinaldi and Ercole Rota in Milan in the northern Italian province of Lombardy. He was blessed with the gift of a musical family, as his mother was an accomplished pianist. She took the reigns of nurturing his nascent talent, tutoring him on the piano. It became apparent to her very early on that Nino was gifted, and so he was enrolled in the Conservatory of Milan, where he studied under the auspices of Giacomo Orefice and Ildebrando Pizzetti. By the early age of twelve Nino, as he was nicknamed, had already gained the reputation as a child prodigy. His first concert work, the oratorio L’Infanzia di San Giovanni Battista (1923), which remarkably he had composed four years earlier, was warmly received in both Milan and Paris, For his next concert piece, he composed the fairy opera Il Principe Porcaro (1926), which was also well received. These successes carried him to Rome, where he studied under Alfredo Casella at the Academia di Santa Cecilia. In 1930, after just three years, he received his diploma in piano and composition. Read more…

Categories: Fathers of Film Music

BRONISLAU KAPER – Fathers of Film Music, Part 14

March 1, 2016 Leave a comment

Bronislau KaperArticle by Craig Lysy

Born: 5 February 1902 Warsaw, Poland.
Died: 26 April 1983.

Bronislau Kaper was of Jewish heritage, and at the very early age six took up the piano, soon demonstrating a remarkable musical talent. His family realized that he was a child prodigy and so enrolled him in the prestigious Chopin Music School to cultivate and refine his gift. By time of his teens he had blossomed creatively and was already writing original compositions. Although his heart was drawn to music, in deference to his father’s wishes he began studies in Law at Warsaw University. Yet, soon after he returned to his true love, and enrolled in the Warsaw Conservatory where he studied composition and piano.

Upon graduating Kaper relocated to Berlin, then a culturally vibrant metropolis, which abounded with countless theaters and cabarets. There he joined many aspiring artists from Eastern Europe, all seeking to make a mark on a world stage. He spent the 1920s and early 1930s working as a song composer for film and cabaret, and gained an increasing notoriety. Read more…

Categories: Fathers of Film Music

WILLIAM WALTON – Fathers of Film Music, Part 13

November 1, 2015 Leave a comment

William WaltonArticle by Craig Lysy

Born: 29 March 1902, Oldham, England.
Died: 8 March 1983.

William Turner Walton was born into a musical family of Charles Alexander Walton and Louisa Maria Turner in the English mill town of Oldham in Lancashire, the second son in a family of three boys and a girl. His father was a trained musician who studied under Charles Hallé at the Royal Manchester College of Music. He supported the family as a singing teacher, church organist and choirmaster. His mother before marriage had been a professional singer. William’s musical gift manifested when he was a young boy, taking up both the piano and violin with vigor, although he never truly mastered either instrument. He had however his mother’s gift and was more successful as a singer in his father’s choir. In 1912 at the age of ten his exceptional voice earned him a place at the Christ Church Cathedral Choir School in Oxford. The school’s Dean, Dr. Thomas Strong, cultivated his progress, and by age twelve William was composing choral works, songs and organ music. During his Oxford years Walton came under the influence of Hugh Allen, the dominant figure in Oxford’s musical life who made a lasting impression. Allen introduced Walton to a tableau of modern music, which included the works of Stravinsky, Debussy, Sibelius and Roussel. Although at 16 he was one of the youngest to ever enter Oxford, he regretfully failed after four years to achieve his BA. While he passed his musical examinations with ease, he failed the Greek and algebra courses required for graduation. Read more…

JEROME MOROSS – Fathers of Film Music, Part 12

September 1, 2015 Leave a comment

Jerome MorossArticle by Craig Lysy

Born: 1 August 1913, New York City, New York
Died: 25 July 1983

Jerome Moross was born in Brooklyn, the second of three sons of a family of Jewish émigrés from Russia. Although his parents were not musicians, it became clear very early that he was gifted. He began playing the piano by age five and composing pieces by the age of eight. His parents recognized his talent and enrolled him in the DeWitt Clinton High School for the Performing Arts in Manhattan. It was here that young Jerome would first meet and strike up a lifelong friendship with Bernard Herrmann, who was two years his senior. Although Herrmann struggled with his studies, Moross possessed a keen intellect and advanced academically at a phenomenal rate, gaining promotions four times. He graduated from high school at the age of 14 – a most impressive achievement. Moross and Herrmann both had an affinity for the avant-garde modernist music that was burgeoning in the 1920s, and they pursued it together. In time they formed a trio with Hermann’s young brother, Louis, who played the cello, and they made a modest living, securing paying engagements around town. Read more…

Categories: Fathers of Film Music

HERBERT STOTHART – Fathers of Film Music, Part 11

July 1, 2015 Leave a comment

Herbert StothartArticle by Craig Lysy

Born: 11 September 1885, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Died: 1 February 1949.

Herbert Stothart was born of Scottish and German ancestry in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1885. He studied at Milwaukee Normal School with a curriculum tailored to prepare him for an academic career as a teacher of history. He helped pay for his education by working as a theatre usher, which also elicited a lifelong fascination with movies. It came to pass that he joined an Episcopal Church choir, which kindled a fervent love of music. When he entered the University of Wisconsin, he continued on this path by composing and conducting musicals for the Haresfoot Dramatic Club. His exposure to the musical arts and his extracurricular activities staging school musicals ignited in Stothart a lifelong passion for music, which would now dominate his life. His hard work paid off when one of his productions, “Manicure Shop”, was successfully staged professionally in Chicago, which opened opportunities for further musical studies in Europe. Once this occurred his career path was firmly set, and he returned to America, securing full-time employment as a composer for vaudeville and New York musical theatre. Read more…

DAVID RAKSIN – Fathers of Film Music, Part 10

May 1, 2015 Leave a comment

David RaksinArticle by Craig Lysy

Born: 4 August 1912, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Died: 9 August 2004.

David Raksin was of Russian Jewish heritage; the eldest of three sons born in Philadelphia after his parents had emigrated to America. He was blessed with a musical family as his father Isidore played the clarinet professionally while also writing and conducting music for silent films. Isidore encouraged his son’s nascent talents and instructed him in both the piano and woodwinds. Well, young David was a quick study and by age twelve he had formed his own dance band, which he later expanded for broadcasting on the local CBS radio station, WCAU. During high school his talent earned him steady employment playing the clarinet for professional dance bands. Remarkably, he taught himself orchestration and received a bona fide Bachelors of Fine Arts degree. Upon graduation he enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania to study composition under Harl McDonald. He paid for his education by playing in society bands and radio orchestras. He also both arranged and conducted the first programs of improvised jazz at football games, for which he won several prizes. Read more…