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Max Steiner

May 10, 1888 - December 28, 1971
born in Vienna, Austria, composed during the Modern period
Austrian-born film composer Max Steiner was the grandson of the musical impresario who discovered Strauss and brought Offenbach to Vienna. Growing up with a rich heritage of opera and symphony all about him, Steiner developed into a musical prodigy; at the age of thirteen he graduated from the Imperial Academy of Music, completing the course in one year and winning the Gold Medal of the Emperor. Already a composer at 14 and conductor at 16, Steiner moved from Austria to England in 1905, remaining there to conduct at His Majesty's Theatre until 1914. With the outbreak of the war, Steiner emigrated to America, where he kept busy with Broadway musicals and operettas. One of his most beneficial American jobs was to compose the music to be conducted during screenings of the silent film The Bondman (1915); he became a friend of William Fox, the film's producer, giving Steiner early entree into the Hollywood that would so gainfully employ him in later years. In 1929, he was brought to fledgling RKO Radio Studios to orchestrate the film adaptation of Ziegfeld's Rio Rita (1929). Always confident in his talents, Steiner was realistic enough to understand that he was hired by RKO because he cost a tenth of what someone like Stowkowski would charge. While at RKO, Steiner developed his theory that music should be a function of the dramatic content of a film, and not merely background filling. His scores for such films as Symphony of Six Million (1932), The Informer (1935), and, especially, King Kong (1933) are carefully integrated works, commenting upon the visual images, augmenting the action, and heightening the dramatic impact. While Steiner's detractors would characterize his spell-it-out technique as "Mickey Mousing" (in reference to the music heard in animated cartoons), producers, directors, and stars came to rely upon Steiner to make a good film better, and a great film superb. After 111 pictures at RKO, Steiner was hired by David O. Selznick, who assigned the composer to write the score for Gone with the Wind (1939). Virtually 75 percent of this 221-minute epic required music of some sort, and Steiner rose to the occasion with what many consider his finest work. One concept refined in Gone with the Wind was to give each important character his or her own separate musical motif -- quite an undertaking when one realizes how many speaking parts there were in the film. Around that time Steiner began working at Warner Bros, where he penned the studio's famous "opening logo" fanfare and also provided evocative scores for such classics as Now Voyager (1942), Casablanca (1942) and Mildred Pierce (1945). A proud, vain man, Steiner frequently found himself the butt of good-natured practical jokes from his fellow composers, but at Oscar time it was usually Steiner who had the last laugh. Steiner remained active until 1965, contributing scores to The Caine Mutiny (1954), The Searchers (1955), A Summer Place (1959) and many other films. It was only at the very end of his career, with such retrogressive scores as Youngblood Hawke (1964), that Max Steiner's once-revolutionary technique began to sound old hat. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: King Kong: The Complete 1933 Film Score

Title: King Kong, Film Score

1. King Kong, Film Score: Main Title

2. King Kong, Film Score: A Boat In The Fog

3. King Kong, Film Score: The Island - The Railing

4. King Kong, Film Score: Jungle Dance

5. King Kong, Film Score: Meeting With The Black Men (Punia! Casco!!)

6. King Kong, Film Score: The Little Monkey Escapes

7. King Kong, Film Score: Sea At Night - Forgotten Island

8. King Kong, Film Score: Aboriginal Sacrifice Dance

9. King Kong, Film Score: Entrance Of Kong - The Sailors - Stegosaurus

10. King Kong, Film Score: The Bronte

11. King Kong, Film Score: Log Sequence

12. King Kong, Film Score: Cryptic Shadows

13. King Kong, Film Score: Stolen Love - The Cave

14. King Kong, Film Score: The Snake - The Bird - The Swimmers

15. King Kong, Film Score: The Return

16. King Kong, Film Score: Hey Look Out! It's Kong, Kong's Coming!

17. King Kong, Film Score: King Kong March

18. King Kong, Film Score: Fanfares 1, 2, 3

19. King Kong, Film Score: Kong Escapes

20. King Kong, Film Score: Elevated Train Sequence

21. King Kong, Film Score: Aeroplanes

22. King Kong, Film Score: Finale ('It Was Beauty Killed The Beast')

x

Track List: Adventures of Mark Twain

Title: The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score

1. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Main Title

2. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Pirates

3. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Young Samuel Clemens Finds His Place

4. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: River Pilot

5. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Riverboat In Fog

6. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Mule/digging/cave In

7. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Frogs

8. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Gold Rush

9. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Mark Twain Is Discovered

10. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Theater Scene

11. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Squirrel/livy

12. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Toy Shop

13. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Inspiration

14. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Appreciation

15. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Darn Coat Tails

16. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: More Squirrels

17. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Neck Tie Troubles

18. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Public Shame

19. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Buggy Ride

20. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Typesetter

21. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Meeting General Grant

22. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Bedtime Story

23. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: World Tour Begins

24. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: World Tour Continues

25. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Call

26. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Sorrow

27. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Oxford

28. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Comet's Return

29. The Adventures Of Mark Twain, Film Score: Finale

Comments

Report as inappropriate
I love this movie a lot it's my favorite
Report as inappropriate
My all time favorite composer max Steiner along with Victor young and Elmer Bernstein
Report as inappropriate
Thomas, Steiner was indeed a genius and unfortunatel y is a treasure that my generation has forgotten. His music is wonderful, but was never intended to be separated from the movies that they were written for. The music was there to enhance the movie experience, and likewise, the movie enhanced the music.
Report as inappropriate
This composer created some of the best soundtrack in movie history, and if you watched any movies make by Warner Brothers, you always knew it was a Warner Brothers movie when they played the opening fanfare. I could only wish we could find a way to separate the movies from the soundtracks, and listen to this man great music.

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