Posts Tagged ‘Obituary’

Gerald Fried, 1928-2023

February 17, 2023 Leave a comment

Composer Gerald Fried died on February 17, 2023, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, from pneumonia. He was 95.


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Burt Bacharach, 1928-2023

February 9, 2023 Leave a comment

Composer Burt Bacharach died on February 9, 2023, at home in Los Angeles after a short illness. He was 94.

Burt Freeman Bacharach was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in May 1928, but grew up in Queens, New York. He developed a keen interest in jazz as a teenager, after visiting jazz clubs and watching performances by Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie. He studied music at McGill University in Montreal, at the Mannes School of Music in New York, and at the Music Academy of the West in California, where his teachers included classical greats like Darius Milhaud and Bohuslav Martinů.

After a stint in the US Army he worked as a pianist at resorts in the Catskill Mountains of New York, before going on to work as an arranger and conductor for legendary actress Marlene Dietrich’s nightclub shows. He met lyricist Hal David in 1957, and they began writing songs together; they scored an immediate hit with “Magic Moments” by Perry Como, which reached number 1 in the charts when Bacharach was just 29 years old. Read more…

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Angelo Badalamenti, 1937-2022

December 11, 2022 Leave a comment

Composer Angelo Badalamenti died on December 11, 2022, at home in New Jersey after a short illness. He was 85.

Angelo Daniel Badalamenti was born in New York City in March 1937, the son of Italian immigrants from Sicily. A piano player from a young age, Badalamenti was already earning money as a pianist accompanying singers at resorts in the Catskill Mountains in his teens; he later studied at the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, and then at the Manhattan School of Music, graduating with a master’s degree in 1959.

He began his career as a songwriter, penning works for singers such as Nina Simone and Shirley Bassey using the pen name Andy Badale. He made his film music debut was early as 1973, scoring the blaxploitation action pic Gordon’s War, but his break came when he was hired to be Isabella Rossellini’s vocal coach for David Lynch’s 1986 film Blue Velvet. Impressed with his work, Lynch asked Badalamenti to co-write the song “Mysteries of Love” for vocalist Julee Cruise, and then asked Badalamenti to composed the score for the entire film. Read more…

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Vangelis, 1943-2022

May 19, 2022 Leave a comment

Composer Vangelis died on May 19, 2022, in hospital in Paris, where he was being treated for COVID-19. He was 79.

Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou was born in Agria, Greece, in March 1943, and in his youth was a self-taught musician, experimenting by combining pianos with traditional Greek folk music, jazz, and rock. After some early success in Greek pop music circles he co-founded the group Aphrodite’s Child with vocalist Demis Roussos, among others, and together they would enjoy great success in Europe, especially the single “Rain and Tears” in 1968. During this period Vangelis also dabbled in film music, writing music for several domestic films, before eventually making his international film music breakthrough in 1970 with the film Sex Power.

Throughout the 1970s Vangelis continued to have success both as a film composer and a recording artist; he scored popular documentary films such as L’Apocalypse des Animaux, La Fête Sauvage, and Opéra Sauvage, while simultaneously enjoying chart success, notably as one half of ‘Jon & Vangelis’ with Jon Anderson of Yes; their singles “I Hear You Now” and “I’ll Find My Way Home” were chart hits in the UK. His music was also notably used to score the groundbreaking 1980 PBS documentary series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage presented by Carl Sagan, which brought his music to American audiences for the first time. During this period Vangelis developed the iconic sound that would typify much of his career, combining lush and powerful orchestral forces with sometimes very experimental electronica. Read more…

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Ennio Morricone, 1928-2020

July 6, 2020 1 comment

Composer Ennio Morricone died on July 6, 2020, in hospital in Rome, Italy, after suffering complications following a fall at his home, in which he broke his leg. He was 91.

Ennio Morricone was born in Rome, Italy, in November 1928. He studied at the Conservatory of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia, where he specialized in trumpet performance and composition. During the 1950s Morricone orchestrated and arranged pop songs for the RCA record label, including some for artists such as Paul Anka, Chet Baker and Mina. While working for RCA Morricone also wrote theater music and classical pieces, eventually going on to form Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanzsa, an avant-garde musical improvisation group considered to be one of the first experimental composers collectives.

Morricone began ghostwriting for composers such as Armando Trovajoli and Mario Nascimbene in the late 1950s, before making his credited film debut in 1961 for director Luciano Salce’s Il Federale (The Fascist). He worked almost exclusively in Italian cinema in the 1960s, but started to gain some international prominence for his work with director Sergio Leone, a former classmate, whose ‘spaghetti westerns’ starring a young American actor named Clint Eastwood became unexpected hits. A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Good the Bad and the Ugly (1966) and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), as well as the Burt Reynolds vehicle Navajo Joe (1966), introduced the world to his idiosyncratic personal style, mixing a traditional orchestra with unusual percussion effects, gruff chanting voices, unusual whistles courtesy of Alessandro Alessandroni, and the soaring beauty of the voice of his friend, soprano Edda dell’Orso. These scores became hugely influential and massively popular, quickly cementing his reputation as one of Europe’s leading film composers. Read more…

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Michel Legrand, 1932-2019

January 26, 2019 Leave a comment

Composer Michel Legrand died on January 26, 2019, in hospital in Paris, France, after a short illness related to a pulmonary infection. He was 86.

Michel Jean Legrand was born in Paris, France, in 1932, the son of composer-conductor Raymond Legrand and his wife, Marcelle Ter-Mikaëlian, who was the sister of conductor Jacques Hélian. Legrand studied music at the Conservatoire de Paris from age 11, working with Nadia Boulanger among others, and as both a composer and a pianist. He achieved early career success in 1954 age 22 when his original jazz album I Love Paris became a surprise hit in Europe. He released numerous more albums in the 1950s, including the popular Paris Jazz Piano in 1959, and then established himself as a jazz composer, pianist, and bandleader in the United States, working with jazz stars such as Miles Davis, Stan Getz, and Lena Horne.

Legrand dabbled in film music from the mid 1950s onwards, but achieved his first significant success in 1960 when he scored director Jean-Luc Godard’s groundbreaking A Woman Is a Woman (Une Femme Est Une Femme) in 1961. Legrand quickly became a key musical component of the French New Wave, working for Godard and other directors such as Jacques Demy and Agnès Varda, among others, on such classics as Lola (1961), Vivre Sa Vie (1962), Cléo de 5 à 7 (1962), La Baie des Anges (1963), Bande à Part (1964), and La Chinoise (1967). His score for Demy’s 1965 musical film The Umbrellas of Cherbourg earned him his first Academy Award nomination, and from that point on Legrand split his time between Hollywood and Europe, working on both big-budget American and films and more artistic French fare. Read more…

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Francis Lai, 1932-2018

November 7, 2018 Leave a comment

Composer Francis Lai died on November 7, 2018, at home in Paris, France, after a short illness. He was 86.


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Arthur B. Rubinstein, 1938-2018

April 23, 2018 Leave a comment

Composer Arthur B. Rubinstein died on April 23, 2018, in Los Angeles, after a short illness. He was 80.


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Jóhann Jóhannsson, 1969-2018

February 11, 2018 Leave a comment

Composer Jóhann Jóhannsson died on February 9, 2018, at his home in Berlin, Germany. The cause of death is still unknown. He was 48 years old.

Jóhann Jóhannsson was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, in September 1969. After graduating from university he started his musical career in the mid-1990s as a guitarist playing in various Icelandic indie rock bands, before founding Kitchen Motors, an art organization that encouraged musical collaborations between artists from numerous different genres. He began scoring television projects and films in his native Iceland in 1999, beginning with the TV series Corpus Camera and the theatrical feature The Icelandic Dream [Íslenski Draumurinn] for director Robert Ingi Douglas, and went on to write several acclaimed scores for Icelandic directors over the next several years.

Jóhannsson scored his first English-language film, Personal Effects for director David Hollander, in 2009, first came to international prominence in 2013 when he was asked to score the dark thriller Prisoners starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal by director Denis Villeneuve. He followed this with the score for the Steven Hawking bio-pic The Theory of Everything in 2014, for which he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score, a BAFTA Award for Best Film Music, and a Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media. Read more…

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John Morris, 1926-2018

January 25, 2018 Leave a comment

Composer John Morris died on January 25, 2018, at his home in Red Hook, New Jersey, following complications from a respiratory infection. He was 91.


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Dominic Frontiere, 1931-2017

December 21, 2017 Leave a comment

Composer Dominic Frontiere died on December 21, 2017, in his home in Tesuque, New Mexico, after a short illness. He was 86.


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Luis Enríquez Bacalov, 1933-2017

November 15, 2017 Leave a comment

Composer Luis Enríquez Bacalov died on November 15, 2017, at his home in Rome, Italy, after suffering a stroke. He was 84.


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James Horner, 1953-2015

June 22, 2015 1 comment

James HornerComposer James Horner has been killed in a plane crash. Horner died when the single engine S312 Tucano plane he was piloting crashed in the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Barbara, California. He was 61 years old.

James Roy Horner was born in Los Angeles in August 1953, the son of Harry Horner, an Oscar-nominated Hollywood production designer and occasional film director who emigrated from Austria. He attended high school in California and Arizona, but spent most of his formative years living in London, where he attended the Royal College of Music, and later completed his PhD at UCLA in Los Angeles. After scoring several short film projects for the American Film Institute in the late 1970s, and spending several years teaching, Horner joined the staff at Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, scoring several low-budget genre films, including the popular Battle Beyond the Stars (1980), and working with soon-to-be Hollywood bigwigs such as director James Cameron and producer Gale Ann Hurd.

Horner launched into the big time in 1982 with his score for the critically acclaimed and commercially popular science fiction sequel Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and from that point on Horner quickly rose to become one of the most in-demand composers in Hollywood. In the 1980s and 90s Horner became known for his grand, large-scale, emotional orchestral works; he scored a succession of box office hit movies including 48 HRS. (1982), Honey I Shrunk the Kids (1989), The Pelican Brief (1993), Clear and Present Danger (1994), Apollo 13 (1995) and Ransom (1996), and wrote enormously popular scores for films such as Krull (1983), Cocoon (1985), Willow (1988), Field of Dreams (1989), Glory (1989), Legends of the Fall (1994) and Braveheart (1995), culminating in the massive Titanic in 1997, which remains one of the biggest-selling orchestral score albums of all time. Following the turn of the millennium Horner’s career continued apace, with scores for further box office successes such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), The Perfect Storm (2000), A Beautiful Mind (2001), Avatar (2009) and The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) amongst his efforts. Read more…

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Wojciech Kilar, 1932-2013

December 29, 2013 1 comment

Wojciech KilarComposer Wojciech Kilar died on December 29, 2013 at his home in Katowice, Poland, after a battle with cancer. He was 81.

Kilar was born in Lvov, Ukraine, when it was still part of Poland, in July 1932, but moved to Katowice in Silesia in 1948 with his father, a gynecologist, and his mother, an actress.  Kilar studied at the State Higher School of Music in Katowice under composer and pianist Władysława Markiewiczówna, at the State Higher School of Music in Kraków under composer and pianist Bolesław Woytowicz, and in Paris with  the legendary Nadia Boulanger in the late 1950s. Upon his return to Poland, Kilar and fellow composers Henryk Górecki and Krzysztof Penderecki led an avant-garde music movement in the 1960s, during which time he wrote several acclaimed classical works.

Kilar scored his first film in 1959, and went gone on to write music from some of Poland’s most acclaimed directors, including Krzysztof Kieślowski, Krzysztof Zanussi, Kazimierz Kutz and Andrzej Wajda. He worked on over 100 titles in his home country, including internationally recognized titles such as Bilans Kwartalny (1975), Ziemia Obiecana (1975), Rok Spokojnego Słońca (1984), Życie Za Życie (1991) and Pan Tadeusz (1999), plus several others in France and across other parts of Europe. Read more…

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Richard Rodney Bennett, 1936-2012

December 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Composer Richard Rodney Bennett died on December 24, 2012, in New York, where he had lived since 1979. He was 76.


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