Born in San Francisco on May 3, 1908 Hugo Friedhofer was the son of German parents, his Father who was a cellist had studied in Dresden,Friedhofer followed in his Fathers footsteps and began to take lessons in cello from the age of 13 and after taking instructions in harmony and counterpoint at the University of California took up employment as a cellist with the Peoples Symphony orchestra. In the latter part of 1929 Friedhofer moved to Los Angeles and began to work in orchestras that were performing for Fox Studios. After a few years Friedhofer was employed as an orchestrator for Warner Brothers and whilst working for the studio he carried out orchestrating duties on over 50 motion picture scores.It was whilst he was at Warners that Friedhofer worked on orchestrations for Max Steiner and also because of his German background was also assigned to work with Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Max Steiner in particular relied heavily upon Friedhofer,s skills as an orchestrator to transform his musical sketches into full blown symphonic scores, Friedhofer’s skills as a composer and orchestrator became evident in Hollywood,but for some reason he remained in the background for a number of years his ability being overshadowed by the likes of Steiner and Korngold. in particular. In 1937 Friedhofer was given his first opportunity to score a film himself, which was THE ADVENTURES OF MARCO POLO and although he still remained busy as an orchestrator he began to gradually receive more and more assignments and commissions as a composer in his own right. It was in 1946 that the composer wrote the score that was to become a milestone in his career.
THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, was directed by William Wyler,and Friedhofer was hired to write the music on the recommendation of fellow Hollywood music-smith Alfred Newman. The music that he composed earned Friedhofer an Oscar for best original score in 1947 being selected over soundtracks by Miklos Rozsa, Bernard Herrmann, Sir William Walton and Franz Waxman. In later years Friedhofer was no stranger to Oscar nominations receiving recognition from the Academy for his work on films such as AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER, THE YOUNG LIONS, THE BISHOPS WIFE,JOAN OF ARC and ABOVE AND BEYOND. He was greatly admired and respected within the film music composing fraternity. He passed away on May 17th 1981.