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Bernstein guest conducting the U.S. Air Force Band in 1981
|Born||April 4, 1922|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||August 18, 2004 82) (aged|
Ojai, California, U.S.
|Occupation(s)||Composer, conductor, songwriter|
Elmer Bernstein (April 4, 1922 –August 18, 2004) was an American composer and conductor known for his film scores. In a career that spanned more than five decades, he composed "some of the most recognizable and memorable themes in Hollywood history", including over 150 original movie scores, as well as scores for nearly 80 television productions. Examples of his widely popular and critically acclaimed works are scores to The Ten Commandments (1956), The Magnificent Seven (1960), To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), The Great Escape (1963), The Rookies (1972–76), Animal House (1978), Airplane! (1980), Heavy Metal (1981), Ghostbusters (1984), The Black Cauldron (1985), Cape Fear (1991), The Age of Innocence (1993), Wild Wild West (1999) and Far from Heaven (2002). Early in his career, he also scored the infamous camp classic Robot Monster .
Bernstein won an Oscar for his score to Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967) and was nominated for 14 Oscars in total. He also won two Golden Globe Awards, an Emmy Award, and was nominated for two Grammy Awards and two Tony Awards.
Bernstein was born to a Jewish familyin New York City, the son of Selma (née Feinstein, 1901-1991), from Ukraine, and Edward Bernstein (1896-1968), from Austria-Hungary.
Contrary to popular assumption, he was not related to the celebrated composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, but the two men were friends.Within the world of professional music, they were distinguished from each other by the use of the nicknames Bernstein West (Elmer) and Bernstein East (Leonard). They also pronounced their surnames differently. Elmer pronounced his "BERN-steen", and Leonard used "BERN-stine".
During his childhood, Bernstein performed professionally as a dancer and an actor, in the latter case playing the part of Caliban in The Tempest on Broadway, and he also won several prizes for his painting. He attended Manhattan's progressive Walden School and gravitated toward music. At the age of twelve, he was awarded a piano scholarship by Henriette Michelson, a Juilliard teacher who guided him throughout his entire career as a pianist. She took him to play some of his improvisations for composer Aaron Copland, who was encouraging and selected Israel Citkowitz as a teacher for the young boy.
Elmer was drafted into the United States Army Air Forces during the World War II era where he wrote music for the Armed Forces Radio.
Elmer Bernstein's music has some stylistic similarities to Copland's music, most notably in his western scores, particularly sections of Big Jake, in the Gregory Peck film Amazing Grace and Chuck , and in his spirited score for the 1958 film adaptation of Erskine Caldwell's novel God's Little Acre .
He had a lifelong enthusiasm for an even wider spectrum of the arts than his childhood interests would imply and, in 1959, when he was scoring The Story on Page One , he considered becoming a novelist and asked the film's screenwriter, Clifford Odets, to give him lessons in writing fiction.
Bernstein wrote the theme songs or other music for more than 200 films and TV shows, including The Magnificent Seven , The Great Escape , The Ten Commandments (1956), True Grit , The Man with the Golden Arm , To Kill a Mockingbird , Robot Monster , Ghostbusters and the fanfare used in the National Geographic television specials.
His theme for The Magnificent Seven is also familiar to television viewers, as it was used in commercials for Marlboro cigarettes. Bernstein also provided the score to many of the short films of Ray and Charles Eames.
In 1961 Bernstein co-founded Äva Records, an American record label based in Los Angeles together with Fred Astaire, Jackie Mills and Tommy Wolf.
In addition to his film music, Bernstein wrote the scores for two Broadway musicals, How Now, Dow Jones , with lyricist Carolyn Leigh, in 1967 and Merlin , with lyricist Don Black, in 1983.
One of Bernstein's tunes has since gained a lasting place in U.S. college sports culture. In 1968, University of South Carolina football head coach Paul Dietzel wrote new lyrics to "Step to the Rear", from How Now, Dow Jones. The South Carolina version of the tune, "The Fighting Gamecocks Lead the Way", has been the school's fight song ever since.
Along with many in Hollywood, Bernstein faced censure during the McCarthy era of the early 1950s. Bernstein was called by the House Un-American Activities Committee when it was discovered that he had written some music reviews for a Communist newspaper. After he refused to name names, pointing out that he had never attended a Communist Party meeting, he found himself composing music for movies such as Robot Monster and Cat-Women of the Moon , a step down from his earlier Sudden Fear and Saturday's Hero .
John Landis grew up near Bernstein, and befriended him through his children. Years later, he requested that Bernstein compose the music for National Lampoon's Animal House , over the studio's objections. He explained to Bernstein that he thought that Bernstein's score, playing it straight as if the comedic Delta frat characters were actual heroes, would emphasize the comedy further.
The opening theme to the movie is based upon a slight inversion of a secondary theme from Brahms's Academic Festival Overture . Bernstein accepted the job, and it sparked a second wave in his career, where he continued to compose music for high-profile comedies such as Ghostbusters , Stripes , Airplane! and The Blues Brothers , as well as most of Landis's films for the next 15 years, including the famed music video to the Michael Jackson song "Thriller".
When Martin Scorsese announced that he was re-making Cape Fear , Bernstein adapted Bernard Herrmann's original score to the new film. Bernstein leapt at the opportunity to work with Scorsese, as well as to pay homage to Herrmann.Scorsese and Bernstein subsequently worked together on two more films, The Age of Innocence (1993) and Bringing Out the Dead (1999). Bernstein had previously conducted Herrmann's original unused score for Alfred Hitchcock's 1966 Torn Curtain .
Having studied composition under Aaron Copland, Roger Sessions, and Stefan Wolpe, Bernstein also performed as a concert pianist between 1939 and 1950 and wrote numerous classical compositions, including three orchestral suites, two song cycles, various compositions for viola and piano and for solo piano, and a string quartet.
As president of the Young Musicians Foundation, Bernstein became acquainted with classical guitarist Christopher Parkening and wrote a Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra, which Parkening recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra under Bernstein's baton for the Angel label in 1999. In addition, Bernstein was a professor at the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music and conductor of the San Fernando Valley Symphony in the early 1970s.
Over the course of his career, Bernstein won an Academy Award, an Emmy Award, and two Golden Globe Awards.In addition, he was nominated for the Tony Award three times and a Grammy Award five times.
He received 14 Academy Award nominations and was nominated at least once per decade from the 1950s until the 2000s, but his only win was for Thoroughly Modern Millie for Best Original Music Score. Bernstein was recognized by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association with Golden Globes for his scores for To Kill a Mockingbird and Hawaii . In 1963, he won the Emmy for Excellence in Television for his score of the documentary The Making of The President 1960. He is the recipient of Western Heritage Awards for The Magnificent Seven (1960) and The Hallelujah Trail (1965).
He received five Grammy Award nominations from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and garnered two Tony Award nominations for the Broadway musicals How Now Dow Jones and Merlin .
Additional honors included Lifetime achievement awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), the Society for the Preservation of Film Music, the US, Woodstock, Santa Barbara, Newport Beach and Flanders International Film Festivals and the Foundation for a Creative America.
In 1996, Bernstein was honored with a star on Hollywood Boulevard.In 1999, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Five Towns College in New York City and was honored by the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. Bernstein again was honored by ASCAP with its marquee Founders Award in 2001 and with the NARAS Governors Award in June 2004.
His scores for The Magnificent Seven and To Kill a Mockingbird were ranked by the American Film Institute as the eighth and seventeenth greatest American film scores of all time, respectively, on the list of AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores. Bernstein, Bernard Herrmann, Max Steiner, and Jerry Goldsmith are the only composers to have two scores listed, and are therefore in second place for the most scores on the list, behind John Williams, who has three. Other Bernstein film scores nominated for the list are as follows:
Bernstein was married three times, first to Rhoda Federgreen. Their marriage lasted from 1942 to 1946.Bernstein's second wife was Pearl Glusman, whom he wed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on December 21, 1946. After the couple's divorce in 1965, Bernstein married Eve Adamson. They remained together for 39 years, until his death.
The Bernsteins in the 1990s resided in Hope Ranch, a suburb of Santa Barbara, California.Later, they moved to a home in Ojai, California, where Elmer died from cancer on August 18, 2004, at age 82. His publicist Cathy Mouton simply stated at the time that Bernstein had died following a lengthy illness. He was survived by his wife Eve and their two daughters, Emilie and Elizabeth; by his two sons, Peter and Gregory Bernstein, from his earlier marriage to Pearl Glusman; and by five grandchildren.
He influenced Alan Silvestri, Georges Delerue, Howard Shore, James Newton Howard, John Barry, Lalo Schifrin, Dick Hyman, Hans Zimmer, James Horner, Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, Trevor Jones, Mark Isham, Bear McCreary, Danny Elfman, Alan Menken, Randy Newman, and Randy Edelman.[ citation needed ]
On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Elmer Bernstein among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.
The Magnificent Seven is a 1960 American Western film directed by John Sturges and starring Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter, James Coburn and Horst Buchholz. The film is an Old West–style remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1954 Japanese film Seven Samurai. Brynner, McQueen, Bronson, Vaughn, Dexter, Coburn and Buchholz portray the title characters, a group of seven gunfighters hired to protect a small village in Mexico from a group of marauding bandits. The film's musical score was composed by Elmer Bernstein. In 2013, the film was selected for the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
John Towner Williams is an American composer, conductor, and pianist. Regarded as the greatest film composer of all time, he has composed some of the most popular, recognizable, and critically acclaimed film scores in cinematic history in a career spanning over six decades. Williams has won 25 Grammy Awards, seven British Academy Film Awards, five Academy Awards, and four Golden Globe Awards. With 52 Academy Award nominations, he is the second most-nominated individual, after Walt Disney. In 2005 the American Film Institute selected Williams's score to 1977's Star Wars as the greatest film score of all time. The Library of Congress also entered the Star Wars soundtrack into the National Recording Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
Bernard Herrmann was an American composer best known for his work in composing for motion pictures. As a conductor, he championed the music of lesser-known composers.
John Barry Prendergast, was an English composer and conductor of film music. He composed the scores for 11 of the James Bond films between 1963 and 1987, and also arranged and performed the "James Bond Theme" to the first film in the series, 1962's Dr. No. He wrote the Grammy- and Academy Award-winning scores to the films Dances with Wolves and Out of Africa, also The Scarlet Letter, The Cotton Club, The Tamarind Seed, Mary, Queen of Scots, as well as the theme for the British television cult series The Persuaders!, in a career spanning over 50 years. In 1999, he was appointed OBE for services to music.
Maurice-Alexis Jarre was a French composer and conductor. Although he composed several concert works, Jarre is best known for his film scores, particularly for his collaborations with film director David Lean. Jarre composed the scores to all of Lean's films from Lawrence of Arabia (1962) on. Notable scores for other directors include The Train (1964), Mohammad, Messenger of God (1976), Lion of the Desert (1981), Witness (1985), Fatal Attraction (1987) and Ghost (1990).
Jerrald King Goldsmith was an American composer and conductor most known for his work in film and television scoring. He composed scores for such films as Star Trek: The Motion Picture and four other films within the Star Trek franchise, The Sand Pebbles, Logan's Run, Planet of the Apes, Patton, Papillon, Chinatown, The Wind and the Lion, The Omen, The Boys from Brazil, Capricorn One, Alien, Outland, Poltergeist, The Secret of NIMH, Gremlins, Hoosiers, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Rudy, Air Force One, L.A. Confidential, Mulan, The Mummy, three Rambo films, and Explorers. In May 1997, with the release of Steven Spielberg’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park, he gained more popularity with his fanfare of the 1997 Universal Studios opening logo, which would be among the most iconic studio logo music of all time.
Alex North was an American composer best known for his many film scores, including A Streetcar Named Desire, Viva Zapata!, Spartacus, Cleopatra, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? He was the first composer to receive an Honorary Academy Award but never won a competitive Oscar despite fourteen nominations.
Alan Anthony Silvestri is an American composer and conductor known for his film and television scores. Silvestri has frequently collaborated with director Robert Zemeckis, scoring such films as the Back to the Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Cast Away, The Polar Express, and Forrest Gump. He has also scored films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame, and the television series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. He is a two-time Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominee, and a three-time Saturn Award and two-time Primetime Emmy Award recipient.
John Mervyn Addison was a British composer best known for his film scores.
Introducing Dorothy Dandridge is a television film directed by Martha Coolidge. Filmed over a span of a few weeks in early 1998, the film was aired in the United States on August 21, 1999. The teleplay is drawn exclusively from the biography of Dorothy Dandridge by Earl Mills. The original music score was composed by Elmer Bernstein, who had known Dandridge and Otto Preminger. The film is marketed with the tagline: "Right woman. Right place. Wrong time."
Connotations is a classical music composition for symphony orchestra written by American composer Aaron Copland. Commissioned by Leonard Bernstein in 1962 to commemorate the opening of Philharmonic Hall in New York City, United States, this piece marks a departure from Copland's populist period, which began with El Salón México in 1936 and includes the works he is most famous for such as Appalachian Spring, Lincoln Portrait and Rodeo. It represents a return to a more dissonant style of composition in which Copland wrote from the end of his studies with French pedagogue Nadia Boulanger and return from Europe in 1924 until the Great Depression. It was also Copland's first dodecaphonic work for orchestra, a style he had disparaged until he heard the music of French composer Pierre Boulez and adapted the method for himself in his Piano Quartet of 1950. While the composer had produced other orchestral works contemporary to Connotations, it was his first purely symphonic work since his Third Symphony, written in 1947.
Jerome Moross was an American composer best known for his music for film and television.. He also composed works for symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles, soloists and musical theater, as well as orchestrating scores for other composers.
Frank Denny De Vol was an American actor, and using the name De Vol was an arranger and composer. As a composer he was nominated for four Academy Awards.
Hugo Wilhelm Friedhofer was an American composer and cellist best known for his motion picture scores.
George Duning was an American musician, and film composer. He was born in Richmond, Indiana, United States, and educated in Cincinnati, Ohio at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, where his mentor was Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.
Irwin Kostal was an American musical arranger of films and an orchestrator of Broadway musicals.
Charles Harold Bernstein is an American composer of film and television scores. He is a Daytime Emmy Award winner, and a two-time Primetime Emmy Award nominee. Since 1995, he has been a member of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Music Branch, and is a member Board of Directors for both the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and the Society of Composers & Lyricists.
Stanley Wilson was an American musical conductor, arranger and film composer.
The Golden State Pops Orchestra (GSPO) is an American symphony pops orchestra located in the San Pedro district of Los Angeles, California in the United States of America. The GSPO is the resident orchestra of the Warner Grand Theatre, an Art Deco movie palace built by Warner Brothers Studios in 1931. The orchestra performs a wide variety of musical repertoire, including classical, Broadway, pop music and even video game soundtracks. However, the primary focus of the GSPO remains film music, a specialty of the orchestra since its founding in 2002. The Golden State Pops Orchestra is composed of professional freelance musicians from around the Los Angeles area.
Christopher Francis Palmer was an English composer, arranger and orchestrator; biographer of composers, champion of lesser-known composers and writer on film music and other musical subjects; record producer; and lecturer. He was involved in a very wide range of projects and his output was prodigious. He came to be regarded as one of the finest symphonic orchestrators of his generation. He was dedicated to the conservation, recording and promotion of classic film scores by composers such as Bernard Herrmann, Dimitri Tiomkin, Franz Waxman, Miklós Rózsa, Elmer Bernstein and others. He wrote full biographies as well as sleeve notes, radio scripts, reviews and articles, on composers such as Benjamin Britten, Frederick Delius, Karol Szymanowski, Arthur Bliss, George Dyson, Herbert Howells, Maurice Ravel, Nikolai Tcherepnin and others.