Category Archives: Biographical Essays


NEAL HEFTI circa 1946.

I wonder have you ever stopped and thought about how brilliant composer Neal Hefti was. As a young child, he remembered his family relying on charity during the holidays. He started playing the trumpet in school at the age of eleven, and by high school was spending his summer vacations playing in local territory bands to help his family make ends meet. Born in Hastings Nebraska on October 29th 1922, He grew up close to Omaha, where he was lucky enough to hear bands and trumpet players of the Southwest Territory bands. He was also able to experience the virtuoso playing of several New York jazz musicians that passed through that way on tour.

The composer in later years.

Hefti often said that he was influenced at an early age by the North Omaha scene. He remarked about how impressed he was with the playing of both Harry Edison and Buck Clayton and Dizzy Gillespie when he was with Cab Calloway. All three trumpet players were a great inspiration to Hefti, as was the band leader Count Basie.  Seeing both Gillespie and Basie perform in Omaha, was a pre cursor to him experiencing them again in New York and seeing Gillespie develop his own style of bebop on fifty second street.  In 1939, Hefti, was still at junior North High school in Omaha, and he managed to get a start in music by writing arrangements of vocal ballads for local bands such as Nat Towels band.

Hefti’s first big arrangements for them being Swinging on Lennox Avenue and More Than you Know and a very popular re-working of Anchors Aweigh. A handful of his arrangements were also used by Earl Hines band. In 1941 Hefti was due to graduate from high school but just before he did he was offered the chance to go on tour with the Dick Barry Band, which was something he felt he could not turn down. He travelled with the band to New Jersey, but after just two engagements he was fired because he was unable sight read the music well enough. After being stranded in New Jersey because he had no money Hefti managed to join the Bob Astor band, where he met drummer Shelley Manne, who has on occasion recalled that even at a very young age Hefti was an impressive composer and arranger. But he focused more upon playing trumpet in Astor’s band for a couple of years before turning more to arranging and writing music. An injury forced him to leave the Bob Astor band and for a while he remained in New York, he played with Bobby Byrne in the latter part of 1942 and then with Charlie Barnet for whom he did an arrangement of Skyliner which proved to be a great success. It was during his time in New York that Hefti began to frequent the clubs on 52nd street, when I say frequent, but he never had any money to go into them but often would sneak into the kitchens and talk to the performers whilst at the same time trying to soak up all the new music that he was hearing. It is here that he got know many of the great beboppers.


He left New York and went to Cuba to play with The Les Leiber Rhumba Band, when he returned from Cuba in 1943, he got a place in the Charley Spivak band, and this led him to play in California and whilst there made a band movie. Hefti adored California and decided to try and settle in Los Angeles.  

It was not until the 1960’s that Hefti began to become involved in the writing of film scores, during this time Hefti wrote several memorable scores for films such as Duel at Diablo, Sex and the Single Girl, How to Murder your Wife, The Odd Couple, Synanon, Boeing Boeing, Barefoot in the Park, Lord Love a Duck, and Harlow.

It was also in the 1960’s that the composer/arranger collaborated with Frank Sinatra, on the singers “Sinatra and Swinging Brass” album. Hefti being credited as conductor, arranger on all the recordings twelve tracks. It was also during this period that he wrote the still popular Batman theme for the TV series and contributing to the TV series of The Odd Couple. In which he reprised his already familiar theme.

He received three Grammy Award Nominations for his TV work, and an award for his score to the Batman TV series. After the death of his wife in 1978, Hefti was never the same again, and retired from an active role in music. He passed away on October 11th 2008.



Alfred Newman was born in Connecticut USA in 1901, he was one of the eldest children in a family of ten. He began to take a keen interest in music from an early age and aged just 5 years he began to have piano lessons and two years later was performing in public. He studied at the Von Ende school of music in New York, where he concentrated on piano under the tutelage of Sigismond Stojowski and counterpoint and composition under the watchful gaze of George Wedge and Rubin Goldmart. The young Newman made an impression on his teachers and won medals for his high standard of piano performance. After his time at the school of music Newman continued to take further musical education from Arnold Shoenberg. During his teen Newman began to perform piano to support himself and also his family, after leaving the school and finishing his studies he was introduced to Broadway by the vaudeville producer Grace La Rue, he began to conduct a handful of shows and these became very successful and as they did Newman’s reputation as a fine conductor arranger spread. He finally got his big break in 1920 when George Gershwin appointed him as musical director for The George White Scandals which ran till the latter part of 1921. Newman continued to work on Broadway for just over a decade, he was involved in numerous productions that involved Gershwin, Jerome Kern and even Al Jolson.  In 1930, Newman received a commission from Irving Berlin and the young composer travelled to Hollywood, Berlin had written the theme for a film entitled Reaching the Moon and had asked Newman to be musical director on the movie.  Newman decided that he liked Hollywood and settled in California, and it was at this time that the composer met Samuel Goldwyn who introduced him to the studio system.


Newman’s career is phenomenal and he is probably one of the most prolific composers of film scores ever, he wrote the music to well over 200 motion pictures and acted as musical director and supervisor on hundreds of others, he adapted lots of musicals which had been successful on Broadway when they were brought to the big screen and also worked with Charlie Chaplin, conducting the actors compositions for Modern Times and City Lights, it is also Newman’s music that we hear at the beginning of every 20th Century fox movie and TV show, this has to be one of the most familiar pieces of music that is connected with the cinema, with its imposing percussion and broad and shining brass fanfare. In 1940, Newman began to work for Fox, he was MD for the studio and not only wrote numerous film scores during this time, but also hired various composers and assigned them to films. 

It was Newman who championed fellow composer Hugo Friedhofer allowing him to progress from an orchestrator to a composer in his own right. Newman also gave Jerry Goldsmith his first big break in the film music arena. Newman’s music was to become a fixture within Hollywood and his daughter Maria and sons David and Thomas carried on the family tradition by themselves becoming highly respected and sought-after composers, his nephew Randy is also an Oscar winning composer and lyricist. In 1960, Newman decided to leave Fox and go freelance, and he was certainly not short of assignments, it was during this period that the composer wrote the powerful score for the western How the West Was Won and provided The Flower Drum Song with its musical accompaniment.

Alfred Newman garnered forty-five Academy Award nominations during his long and illustrious career and won the Oscar on nine occasions. His musical career spanned four decades, and his techniques and stylish orchestrations have had far reaching influences at times manifesting themselves within other composers works for the cinema.

Alfred Newman passed away in February 1970, his last film score Airport received an Oscar nomination just one month later. Newman’s rich, vibrant, and sweeping soundtracks brought a new dimension to every movie he worked on and much like Max Steiner, Alfred Newman was an innovator and an inspiration to numerous other composers. He was also responsible for creating the Newman style for scoring motion pictures. This System is a means of synchronising the performance and recording of a movie score with the film itself. A rough cut of the film is shown for the conductor to look at whilst in the recording session, the film is marked with punches and streamers.

Punches are tiny marks in the film, for two of every ten frames, creating a standard beat to help the conductor keep time. To synchronise music and action, the conductor then uses streamers, that are horizontal lines which move across the screen at a regular pace. This system devised by Newman revolutionized the way in which films were scored, and if were not for Alfred Newman film music and the scoring of films would probably not have evolved or developed in the way it did. We would also probably not have got to experience fully the musical genius of Bernard Herrmann, a composer who Alfred Newman thought had great talent and gave him a chance to work on a number of movies at Fox during the 1940’s and 1950’s such as The Snows of Kilimanjaro. The Newman dynasty as it has become known in film and film music circles has made a lasting impact upon movie scoring and the way that film music sounds and is utilised within films and later in television. But let’s not forget the other members of the Newman family who also were instrumental in influencing and inspiring future generations including their own sons, daughters, and nephew’s etc.


There was Lionel Newman who was a talented conductor and directed the scores of many Hollywood composers including the Oscar winning Omen  for composer Jerry Goldsmith. Alfred’s Brother, Emile Newman too was a Maestro and wrote for stage and screen.

But let’s come forward in time to the days when both David and Thomas Newman stepped into the film music arena and when their sister Maria began to write classical music for concert hall performance as well as performing viola and piano. And to the wealth of rich and vibrant music that continues to be realized by the Newman family.

David is the eldest being born in 1954, he began his film scoring career aged thirty back in 1984 when he worked on a short movie for a then unknown director Tim Burton, the film was a Walt Disney production entitled Frankenweenie. Two years later Newman scored a few low budget movies these included Critters, The Kindred and My Demon Lover. It was during the 1980’s that Newman began to establish himself as a composer of film music and it soon became evident that he had inherited his father’s innovative and inventive talent for creating music that was effective within the films he worked on and also remained attractive and affecting away from the screen images. In 1987 Newman worked on several movies and scored the first of many animated features which was Brave Little Toaster directed by Jerry Rees. It was also in 1987 that the composer wrote the music for Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. In the same year David scored Throw Momma from the Train which was his first collaboration with Danny De Vito as director and produced an electronic score for the movie Heathers.

As the eighties ended Newman worked with De Vito again in 1989 when he wrote the music for The War of the Roses. The 1990’s were to prove even more productive for the composer creating memorable scores for movies such as Mr Destiny, Bill and Teds Bogus Adventure, Duck Tales the Movie, The Mighty Ducks, Hoffa, I love Trouble, Boys on the Side, Matilda, Jingle all the Way, Galaxy Quest, Bowfinger, The Nutty Professor, The Phantom, and Brokedown Palace to identify but a few.

In recent years David Newman in my opinion has become a brilliant ambassador for film music and has conducted many concerts of music from the movies in the United States and in Europe, promoting the art of movie music to all. He most recently acted as an arranger adapting the music of Leonard Bernstein for the Steven Spielberg version of West Side Story, which was Newman’s first collaboration with the filmmaker.


From David to his younger brother Thomas, who is arguably the busiest composer of the second generation of Newman’s. He has worked on many motion pictures in Hollywood and has also scored two Bond movies as well as working with some of the worlds most recognised filmmakers. It was his music for the Sam Mendes movie American Beauty that probably first attracted me to his music.

At times the composer going for a more subdued and slightly more intimate sound within his scores for motion pictures. However, he has produced some vibrant and robust works for movies such as Bridge of Spies in 2015, plus Road to Perdition and The Shawshank Redemption.

I must admit to not being a great fan of his music for the James Bond franchise, I found it to be too subtle at times, and it seemed as if it was just a musical wallpaper that kind of covered the cracks in some of the two films plots.

The bombastic style of Barry and Arnold for me at least suited the characteristics of Bond better. There is (in my opinion) a sameness within Thomas Newman’s work at times the composer not really altering sound or style to accommodate characters and scenarios. Thomas was born in 1955 and began his film scoring career in the same year as his elder brother David 1984.

His first scoring assignment being Reckless for director James Foley, swiftly followed by Revenge of the Nerds and Desperately Seeking Susan. He scored a total of fifteen movies during the eighties, working on films such as The Lost Boys, The Man with One Red Shoe and Less than Zero. In the 1990’s Thomas was like his sibling very busy, and in that decade established himself as a composer of worth amongst his peers and fans, applying his Midas touch to movies such as The Player, Scent of a Woman, Little Women, Up Close and Personal, The War, Phenomenon, Meet Joe Black, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and Red Corner. It was in the 2000’s that the composer further established himself creating affecting scores for Road to Perdition, Erin Brokovich, Finding Nemo, The Salton Sea, Wall-E, and Revolutionary Road. In 2012 he scored Skyfall which was his first Bond movie for director Sam Mendes and returned to 007 in 2015 providing the score for Spectre. After which he went on to write the music for Finding Dory, Tolkien, and 1917 amongst others. His most recent assignments include Operation Mincemeat for director Joe Madden, which is a Netflix film and, in the pipeline, he has a score coming for the Channing Tatum directed movie Dog which will be released in 2022. Both Thomas and David continue their father’s musical vision for marrying music to images in film and increasing the impact and depth of cinematic storylines with emotive, and dramatic compositions. Both employ very different styles in bringing these notions to fruition.


The Newman brother’s sister Maria is also a composer and an accomplished performer and conductor. Born Maria Louise Newman on January 18, 1962, She, is the youngest of Alfred Newman’s children, Maria holds the Louis and Annette Kaufman Composition Chair; and the Joachim Chassman Violin Chair at the Montgomery Arts House for Music and Architecture in Malibu, California, and is a founder of the Malibu Friends of Music. Her library of original works represents a range of genres, from large-scale orchestral works, works for the ballet, chamber works, choral and vocal works, to new collaborative scores for vintage silent film. She has been presented with several awards and commissions, including musical commendations from the United States Congress (2009), the California State Senate (2009), the California State Assembly (2009), the City of Malibu (2010), and the Annenberg Foundation (2011). She also writes scores for silent movies.


Randy Newman is a cousin and is a composer that we all know and love, he is more than a composer, he is a producer, singer, and song writer. Sadly, some film score fans do dismiss him, thinking he is a composer who is restricted to penning sweet little songs such as You Got Friend in Me from the Toy Story series. But there is much more to this talented and versatile music-smith.

He has written glorious sounding scores for movie such as Seabiscuit, The Natural, The Paper, Avalon, Maverick, Pleasantville, and created emotional sounding scores for movies such as Awakenings, and Ragtime. But it is probably true to say that he is better known for his musical contributions to the world of animated cinema in the form of his music for A Bugs Life, Monsters Inc and of course Toy Story.

For me personally the score for The Natural is one of his best works. But saying that how do select the best from so many scores and albums all of which are varied and different. His best-known songs as a recording artist are Short People (1977), I Love L.A. (1983), and You’ve Got a Friend in Me (1995), while other artists have enjoyed more success with cover versions of his Mama Told Me Not to Come (1966), I Think It’s Going to Rain Today (1968) and You Can Leave Your Hat On (1972).

Born in Los Angeles in 1943 to an extended family of Hollywood film composers, Randy Newman began his song writing career at the age of just 17, with hits for acts such as the Fleetwood’sCilla BlackGene Pitney, and the Alan Price Set. In 1968, he made his formal debut as a solo artist with the self-titled album Randy Newman. Four of his non-soundtrack albums have charted in the US top 40: Sail Away (1972), Good Old Boys (1974), Little Criminals (1977), and Harps and Angels (2008).


The Newman dynasty continues in movie music with Joey Newman, who is already an Emmy Nominated composer. Joey’s grandfather was Oscar-winning composer and conductor Lionel Newman, who passed away in 1989 his great uncle was Alfred Newman. Joey’s father, Joe Frank Carollo, played bass and sang in the famed 1970s rock group “Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds.” Joey is a drummer conductor and an orchestrator and has worked with his cousin Randy Newman on occasion. He has written the music for several movies as well as scoring video games and composing music for TV projects and provided arrangements for recording artists such as Rufus Wainwright and Broadway composers Marcy & Zina and Cinco Paul.

As a conductor and orchestrator, Joey has worked across the media spectrum including orchestrating for Bill Ross and conducting alongside Michael Tilson Thomas and John Williams. His scoring credits for films and TV include, Any Day Now, The Space Between, Raised by Wolves, My Uncle Rafael, and Diary of a future President. He also scored the video game Lineage, which is worth more than a fleeting listen. The influence of the Newman family upon movie music is far reaching and continues to be a dominant feature of contemporary film music.


When you think of composer Raymond Lefèvre do you like me think straight away of his big international instrumental hit Soul Coaxing which was played on loop on the radio back in the 1960’s? During the 1960’s and pretty much throughout the 1970’s the music charts were in my opinion more varied and contained many instrumental recordings by the likes of Lefèvre, Goodwin, Barry, and Mancini to name just three.

For example, in 1964 the theme that the BBC used for the Tokyo Olympics Tokyo Melody by Helmut Zacharias reached a high position in the British hit parade. It was a period that also saw a lot of covers of film themes which became hits. Ernest Gold’s Exodus for example and Bernstein’s The Magnificent Seven and even Morricone’s The Good the Bad and The Ugly were all given a lease of life away from the movies that they were originally written for via cover versions by the likes of Ferrante and Teicher, Al Cailo, and Hugo Montenegro respectively.

The easy listening market was a lot more popular then than it is nowadays, music was in general more commercial as in it was appealing to all ages and youngsters listened to it and accepted it even if it was not that cool. Film music benefitted because many artists such as Ron Goodwin and Henry Mancini would release albums of film themes and not only include their works but also the work of other composers. Raymonde Lefèvre released numerous easy listening albums in the 1960’s some containing original tunes and songs by the composer alongside standards and popular titles that he arranged for his orchestra, I suppose Lefèvre was the French equivalent to James Last, and Bert Kaempfert, but he also wrote film scores as well like Goodwin and Mancini.

His film scores contained that easy listening sound, and a sense of romanticism as well as providing the movies he scored with support and a musical enhancement that was effective and at the same time memorable. His first film score was for the 1957 movie Fric-frac en Dentelles. Raymond Lefèvre was born on November 20, 1929, in Calais, France, his birth name was Raymond Lefèbvre. He is best known for the now classic melody Soul Coaxin’ (Ame Caline), which became a global hit in 1968. He also wrote soundtracks for movies directed by Louis de Funès such as La Soupe Aux Choux (1981), as well as working on the iconic series that focused upon Le Gendarme De Saint Tropez which ran from the mid 1960’s to the early 1980’s on which he collaborated with fellow composer Paul Mauriat  who also released many easy listening albums and had a hit with his arrangement of L’Amour est Bleu (Love Is Blue) also in 1968.

Lefèvre accompanied Dalida on most of her recordings (Bambino, Por Favor, Tu Peux Tout Faire de Moi, Quand on N’A Que l’Amour) during the late 1950’s and into the early 1960’s. Lefèvre was accepted at the Paris Conservatory at just 17 years of age. During early the 1950’s he played the piano for the Franck Pourcel orchestra. But it was in 1956 that his musical career as an artist in his own right began on the Barclay label when recorded his debut album in the same year. He worked on various the French television programmes, one being Musicorama in the 1950’s and then later Palmarés des Chansons from 1965, through till 1967 where he would accompany famous artists with his own orchestra and did arrangements of popular songs. H

is recording of The Day the Rains Came was a best seller in the United States in 1958 with Ame Caline (Soul Coaxin’) following a decade later and La La La (He Gives Me Love) also being a minor hit in 1968 in Canada and the United States. In 1969 his recording of La Reine de Saba (Queen of Sheba) became a big hit in Japan where he toured in 1972 and in the early 2000’s. Lefèvre passed away on June 27th 2008.

Aaron Zigman.

Aaron Zigman, composer

Lets head back in time just a little way, and to the February of 2007, when a movie entitled Bridge to Terabithia was released and with it the music for the movie which was the work of composer Aaron Zigman came onto the radar of soundtrack collectors.

The composer in my opinion remains a shining light within the film music community and as a relatively new composer in 2007 wrote scores that were mature and exciting in their persona and sound. Zigman began his career as a film music composer back in 2002 when he wrote the score for John Q, which he followed with the music for the video short Fighting for Care and the documentary Behind the scenes of John Q.  But before this in 2000, Zigman arranged a classical 35-minute symphonic tone poem entitled “Rabin,” which was composed in memory of Yitzhak Rabin, the late prime minister of the State of Israel and was performed by the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony.

In 2004 he worked on The Notebook which was I think a landmark score for the composer, with many assignments then following. His score for The Notebook is a delight and showed off the talent and flexibility of this composer. The score containing beautiful and affecting melodies that will haunt any listener long after they have finished experiencing the music. There is a deep emotion embedded within the thematic and effective melodies of this soundtrack, melodies that stay with you forever, whether they be swelling strings or intimate piano solo performances, the music is not just melodious but is also enticing. Zigman, soon became a name that many collectors were familiar with, his music for the movies ATL and Akeelah and the Bee for example impressing and attracting the attention of critics, producers, and fans.

He is a composer that could and still can adapt his style to suit every scenario, fashioning and creating upbeat themes and expansive melodic works. His sound if there is a such a thing as the “Zigman” sound has to it a style that at times has certain similarities and affiliations with that of seasoned composers such as Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, James Horner and to a certain degree Dave Grusin. I don’t mean that as in he was copying them thematically or in any way mimicking the composers works directly, but more in its stature and overall sound, and in the way that the music is placed within the movies he has scored. His work for cinema being varied, inventive, and above all entertaining.

In 2006 he wrote the score for the family movie Flicka a story that had been filmed before in Hollywood and previously scored by composer Alfred Newman, Zigman composed a soundtrack that was filled with emotion and overflowing with a richness and poignancy that we associate with the vintage movies of tinsel town from the 1930’s and 1940’s of the Golden Age with a romantic and melancholy core from which the composer radiated the remainder of his score. His music was lush and lavish at times but purveyed emotive and poignant qualities without becoming syrupy or over the top.

Like James Horner, Zigman often wrote quite large symphonic scores, utilizing the full potential and resources of a symphony orchestra and creating a vibrant and inspiring soundtrack even if the movie was deemed to be a lower budget affair. This is I think why Zigman got noticed as had Horner and the likes of Chris Young in their early days, because they fashioned grand sounding works for movies that were small features rather than blockbusters. But that is just my opinion. His score for Bridge to Terabithia is one of the many highlights of the composers ongoing career, the film itself being a combination of fantasy, Escapism, adventure and includes a coming-of-age storyline, that deals with death and the way young people come to terms with it.

The story from the book by Katherine Paterson was originally made into a movie for TV in 1985 under the direction of filmmaker Eric Till. But the production was a lot smaller than the motion picture version and lacked the special effects, the movie from 2007 had more imaginative direction by Gabor Csupo, who had previously worked on several projects for Nickelodeon. With the actors, cinematographer Michael Chapman and director Csupo creating a fantasy that was in effect believable. The Fantasy/adventure tale is about two children who invent a secret world. Bullied at school, and with worries at home, young Jesse Aaron (Josh Hutcherson) sets his heart on being the fastest runner in the 5th grade. When the day of the race finally arrives however, his dream is shattered when new girl in school, Leslie Burke (Anna Sophia Robb), beats him to the tape. Despite this initial setback, the pair soon realise they have a lot in common, and a friendship develops. Discovering that they both share creative talents, (Jesse loves to draw, while Leslie is a keen storyteller), they invent the magical kingdom of Terabithia, a fantasy world reached by swinging on a rope over a stream near their homes. Once inside Terabithia, they become the rulers of all they see, embarking on magical adventures, fighting evil, and learning how to triumph over bullies. Aaron Zigman’s score became an integral component of the movie, it underlined and gave greater impact to many of the scenes and added that sprinkle of magic to the proceedings as the story unfolded. His music literally ingrates the storyline bringing to it many levels that encompass the mystical and the adventurous.

The cue Entering the Forest on the soundtrack recording for example emphasizes the otherworldly mood that surrounds the magical forest as it becomes a place where anything is possible for the main characters. The cue literally oozes apprehension and contains a sense of the mystical, but also has elements of choir within it that contain a sound that can be defined as almost celestial.

The score is a smorgasbord of thematic material to the extent that it is sometimes difficult to comprehend that all this music hails from the same movie.  The score was issued on a promotional album on the Hollywood records label, which contained twenty-one cues and had a running time of forty-three minutes. The use of choir comes into its own in the cue Crossing the River which has an ethereal sounding choral performance opening the track this is then embellished and given more depth by subtle strings and woods, the strings then take on a more robust role and the composer adds to these sensitive and subdued brass support which give the cue an emotive and affecting aura. Seeing Terabithia too is an effective composition, with brass, percussion, strings, and choir combining in a short lived but memorable piece filled with wonderment.

The score is one that contains many senses, many styles, colours, and textures and showcases a plethora of atmospheres, action, romance, sadness, joy and even horror are all purveyed within this incredible soundtrack. I defy anyone to listen to the track Jess Grieves and not be moved, the composers truly sensitive musical touch conveying the young boy’s devastation and bewilderment over the loss of his friend.

Aaron Zigman was born on January 6th, 1963, in San Diego California, and studied music with his cousin MGM composer George Bassman. After a brief apprenticeship, Zigman broke out as a studio musician, working with producers Don Was, Gary Katz, Steely Dan, and Stewart Levine. From this experience, he began making a name for himself as a producer/writer, and soon after wrote his first big hit, with the song “Crush on You,” which was recorded by The Jets and topped the pop charts in the USA.  He also worked with legendary record producer Clive Davis and has produced and arranged music himself for artists such as Aretha Franklin and Natalie Cole. He has also written, arranged, and produced songs for many of the top vocalists, producers, and artists in the music industry, including John Legend, Quincy Jones, Trevor Horn, Seal, Ray Charles, Alison Sudol, Bryan Adams, Phil Collins, Dionne Warwick, Boz Scaggs, Tina Turner, Seal, Carly Simon, The Pointer Sisters, Huey Lewis, Jennifer Holliday, Patti LaBelle, Chicago, and Christina Aguilera.

His transition to film music composition came in the latter part of the 1990s with his work being featured on soundtracks such as Mulan, What’s Love Got to Do with It, The Birdcage, License to Kill, Caddyshack, and Pocohantas.To say that Aaron Zigman is talented is certainly an understatement. He has worked on numerous Hollywood movies that include, For Coloured Girls, Flash of Genius, Sex and the City, Sex and the City 2, and the animated film Escape from Planet Earth. He has also scored such films as The Company Men, Alpha Dog, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (co-scored with French composer and Oscar winner Alexandre Desplat), My Sister’s Keeper and The Shack.

The recent film Wakefield, starring Bryan Cranston and Jennifer Garner, marks his second collaboration with Oscar-nominated writer and director Robin Swicord, having previously worked together on The Jane Austen Book Club.


Laurence Rosenthal

If I recall correctly the first encounter, I had with the music of composer Laurence Rosenthal was when I got the soundtrack for Meetings with Remarkable Men which was released on a Varese Sarabande LP back in 1979 or thereabouts. The score was by Thomas De Hartman and Rosenthal the latter acting as more or less conductor and arranger the soundtrack utilizing the music of De Hartman who had died in 1956. After liking what I had heard on the score and not really considering that most of the music was not by Rosenthal I purchased Brass Target, which was totally the opposite to Meetings with Remarkable Men, but nevertheless an atmospheric and effective score, after this I did not really go out of my way to consciously collect the music by Rosenthal but every time I saw an album I would at least consider adding it to my collection.

Return of a Man Called Horse and Clash of the Titans instantly come to mind when thinking of this composer, and in later years his award winning scores for the Young Indiana Jones series were also a welcome addition to any film music collection.

He also worked on the TV mini-series Peter the Great, providing the somewhat troubled production with a suitably epic sounding soundtrack. But as far as this composer was concerned I kind of came late to the party as he was already an established name in the world of both TV and film music and not just as a composer but as a gifted and in demand conductor, arranger and orchestrator.

He acted as orchestrator and conductor on the film version of The Man of La Mancha in 1972 which garnered him an Academy Award Nomination as did his score for the movie Becket in 1964.

He also worked on the TV series Logans Run which was a popular spin off show from the motion picture of the same name during the 1970’s. He started to write music for film and TV back in 1952, one of his first assignments being a documentary entitled This Is Russia. With this being followed by Yellowneck, in 1955 and Naked in the Sun in 1957 Some of his early scores such as Requiem for a Heavyweight and The Miracle Worker have now attained the status of being iconic within the film music and film music collecting community.

He was it seems particularly in demand during the 1970’s, when he penned the music for over forty assignments, some of which were TV series such as The Rookies and Hec Ramsey which were multiple episode projects. His work in the 1970’s was mainly confined to the small screen scoring TV Movies, but he did also work on a handful of motion pictures Rooster Cogburn, The Island of Doctor Moreau, and A Gunfight being three of them. In the 1980’s he was just as industrious scoring Clash of the Titans, episodes of the series Fantasy Island and George Washington for television as well as working on numerous TV movies.

Born in Detroit USA on November 4th 1926, he began to study piano as a child and attended the Eastman school of music. After which he headed to Paris where he continued to study music under Nadia Boulanger, after two years of studying in France he then went to Salzburg where he studied conducting.

After enlisting in the US Airforce, Rosenthal became the principal conductor for the Air Force Documentary Film Squadron. After he left the Air force the composer went to New York where he began to work on stage productions and writing for the theatre would eventually lead him to become a composer of music for film. In New York he composed the incidental music for a production of Becket and worked on A Patriot for Me, as well as arranging and conducting the ballet music for The Music Man.

To say that Rosenthal is a multi-talented composer and conductor/orchestrator would I think be an understatement.

His efforts writing scores for TV have not gone unnoticed or unrewarded as he has won the Emmy seven times for his music to productions such as the historical epics Anastasia and Peter the Great, the documentary for NBC Michelangelo the last Giant, with his music for the Bourne Identity also winning three years in a row.

His musical entitled Sherry was based upon the novel The Man who came to Dinner, but the music was lost for over thirty years, and has recently been discovered and new recordings have been made of it.  Rosenthal also writes for the concert hall and has had several his pieces performed including his chamber music.

Laurence Rosenthal is one of the busiest and most talented composers to work in Hollywood but still it seems remains underrated. He was not only prolific but consistently very good, creating supportive and theme laden works for both the small and big screen.