Elmer Bernstein

Biography

Born: April 4, 1922; New York, NY   Died: August 18, 2004; Ojai, CA  
If Elmer Bernstein had realized his childhood aspirations, he might have been a concert pianist. Instead, he has been a major force in film music and popular culture for more than ffity years.

Bernstein showed a consuming interest in the piano at an early age. When Bernstein was thirteen, his music teacher arranged an audition for Aaron Copland, who in turn arranged for Bernstein to study with one of his own students. Bernstein enrolled
Read more at the Juilliard School as a piano student and also took up composition, for which his teachers included Stefan Wolpe and Roger Sessions. Assigned to an army entertainment unit during World War II, Bernstein first worked as an arranger of traditional American songs for Glenn Miller, which led to a chance to compose for Armed Forces Radio. Bernstein wrote the music for more than eighty broadcasts and wanted to pursue a career as a composer once the war was over. His break came in 1949 when he was commissioned to write the score for a UN radio program on the founding of the State of Israel, which led to an offer to write music for NBC. That, in turn, got Bernstein a chance to come to Hollywood as a film composer.

Bernstein's professional breakthrough took place in 1955 with Otto Preminger's film The Man With The Golden Arm, a drama dealing with drug addiction. Bernstein's jazz-based score proved popular with the public and critics and was the first of his film music to get an album release, as well as receiving an Oscar nomination. The next major milestone in Bernstein's career came in 1960, when he was engaged to score John Sturges' western The Magnificent Seven. It was here that Bernstein got to put his love of folk music into play: in a manner not far removed from Aaron Copland, he utilized the melodic characteristics of cowboy and traditional Mexican music in composing a sweeping orchestral score. The main title theme quickly took on a life of its own when the makers of Marlboro cigarettes licensed it for a series of commercials that ran for a decade, making it perhaps the most widely heard piece of movie music in history. Bernstein's work during the 1960s ran the gamut from sensitive dramas like To Kill A Mockingbird to such rousing adventure yarns as The Great Escape. He won a 1968 Oscar for his score for Thoroughly Modern Millie. In the early 1970s, Bernstein formed his own record label, Filmmusic Collection, and used it to make new recordings (usually with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London) of film scores that weren't otherwise available, including Miklos Rozsa's music for The Thief of Baghdad and Bernard Herrmann's unused score for Torn Curtain.

In 1977, Bernstein's career took an unexpected turn when he was asked by director John Landis to score the comedy National Lampoon's Animal House. Having never scored a comedy before, the composer hesitated, but Landis said that he wanted the kind of sweeping music that Bernstein was known for. The mix of his dignified music underscoring the film's physical comedy lent a depth to the humor of the movie; other filmmakers liked what they heard, and he has since written the music for such comedies as Airplane and Ghostbusters. At the same time, his status as the dean of living soundtrack composers made Bernstein the first choice for many high profile, serious films, including Martin Scorsese's remake of the 1960 thriller Cape Fear (for which Bernstein rescored Bernard Herrmann's original music) and The Age of Innocence. He remains active in the new century in both film and television music. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 44 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Play It Again: Classic Sound Of Hollywood
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 303384 Release Date: 04/01/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Waxman,  Dimitri Tiomkin,  Daniele Amfitheatrof,  Erich Wolfgang Korngold  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Gerhardt,  Maurice Jarre,  Esa-Pekka Salonen,  Elmer Bernstein  ... 
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  • 2.
    Itzhak Perlman - Concertos, Sonatas & More
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 5438882 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Isaac Stern,  Itzhak Perlman,  Pinchas Zukerman,  Daniel Barenboim  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Erich Leinsdorf,  André Previn,  John T. Williams
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Juilliard String Quartet,  Boston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 3.
    The Golden Age Of Hollywood
    Label: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra   Catalog: 24 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Max Steiner,  Maurice Jarre,  Elmer Bernstein,  Ennio Morricone  ... 
    Performer:  Howard McGill,  Mike Allen,  Kyle Horch
    Conductor:  David Firman
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  • 4.
    Film Music Gala / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    Label: Royal Philharmonic   Catalog: 33 Release Date: 07/30/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Jeremy Sams,  John Barry,  Craig Armstrong,  John T. Williams  ... 
    Performer:  Rolf Wilson,  Brian Thomson,  Paul Bateman,  Tim Gill  ... 
    Conductor:  Christopher Austin,  Paul Bateman,  David Arnold,  Debbie Wiseman  ... 
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  • 5.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: Cinema Classics
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5202 Release Date: 07/09/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Max Steiner,  Elmer Bernstein,  Miklós Rózsa,  Richard Addinsell  ... 
    Performer:  Ronnie Aldrich,  Russ Conway
    Conductor:  Cyril Ornadel,  Al Caiola,  Ken Jones,  Billy Vaughn  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Dreamers
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  • 6.
    100 Greatest Film Themes, Take 3
    Label: Silva Screen   Catalog: 1398 Release Date: 05/07/2013   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Marvin Hatley,  Charles Chaplin,  Frank Churchill,  Paul Dukas  ... 
    Performer:  Keith Ferreira,  David Shannon,  Helen Hobson,  Emma Kershaw  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Music Works,  The Wire-Haired Terriers Athletic Social Club,  N.Y. Jazz Orchestra
    CD: $59.49
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  • 7.
    Label: Phantom Imports (Italy)   Catalog: 8015552 Release Date: 03/22/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Quincy Jones,  Carlos Gardel,  Michel Legrand,  Luis Enriquez Bacalov  ... 
    Performer:  Itzhak Perlman
    Conductor:  John T. Williams
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
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  • 8.
    Le Maestro De La Trompette
    Label: Indesens   Catalog: 15 Release Date: 02/12/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Gershwin,  Ernesto Lecuona,  Michael Carr,  Charles Trenet  ... 
    Performer:  Maurice André
    Conductor:  J. Faustin,  Jacques Denjean
    CD: $34.99
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  • 9.
    Movie Magic: Epics & Westerns / Carl Davis, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 1934 Release Date: 10/16/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Francis Lai,  Maurice Jarre,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Conductor:  Carl Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $9.99
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  • 10.
    The Golden Age Of Hollywood Vol 3 / Bernas, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    Label: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra   Catalog: 23 Release Date: 05/29/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leonard Bernstein,  Elmer Bernstein,  David Rose,  Victor Young  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Bernas
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 11.
    Gee's Bend: Gitarrenkonzerte Des 20./21. Jahrhunderts
    Label: Querstand   Catalog: 1211 Release Date: 05/08/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elmer Bernstein,  Malcolm Arnold,  Michael Daugherty
    Performer:  Thorsten Drucker
    Conductor:  Rasmus Baumann
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  • 12.
    Cinema Serenade [k2hd]
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 7332 Release Date: 03/20/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Quincy Jones,  Carlos Gardel,  Michel Legrand,  Luis Enriquez Bacalov  ... 
    Performer:  Itzhak Perlman
    Conductor:  John T. Williams
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  • 13.
    Great Motion Picture Themes
    Label: Sepia Records   Catalog: 1189 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ernest Gold,  Manos Hadjidakis,  Elmer Bernstein,  Dimitri Tiomkin  ... 
    Performer:  Al Caiola,  Shelly Manne,  Gerry Mulligan,  Marilyn Monroe  ... 
    Conductor:  Don Costa,  Nick Perito,  Alfred Newman,  Jerome Moross  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ferrante & Teicher,  The Modern Jazz Quartet
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  • 14.
    The Fabulous Film Themes [3 CD Set]
    Label: United Multimedia   Catalog: 63242 Release Date: 03/06/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Henry Mancini,  Leonard Bernstein,  Francis Lai,  Leonard Rosenman  ... 
    Performer:  London Studio Orchestra
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  • 15.
    The Golden Age Of Hollywood Vol 2 / Serebrier, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    Label: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra   Catalog: 22 Release Date: 02/28/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann,  Max Steiner,  Erich Wolfgang Korngold,  Elmer Bernstein  ... 
    Performer:  Clio Gould,  Jamie Talbot
    Conductor:  José Serebrier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 16.
    The Golden Age Of Hollywood
    Label: Royal Philharmonic   Catalog: 17 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jerome Moross,  Bernard Herrmann,  Dimitri Tiomkin,  Erich Wolfgang Korngold  ... 
    Performer:  Phil Todd,  Roderick Elms
    Conductor:  Royal Philharmonic Orches,  José Serebrier
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  • 17.
    Cinema Concertante / Herkenhoff, Zacher, Kurpfalzisches Kammerorchester
    Label: Oehms   Catalog: 785 Release Date: 02/22/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elmer Bernstein,  Gabriel Yared,  Ennio Morricone,  Yann Tiersen  ... 
    Performer:  Ulrich Herkenhoff
    Conductor:  Frank Zacher
    CD: $17.99
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  • 18.
    Label: Varese Sarabande   Catalog: 067059 Release Date: 12/21/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Alfred Newman,  David Raksin,  Bernard Herrmann,  Alex North  ... 
    Performer:  Jimmie Rodgers,  Jennifer Warnes
    CD: $24.99
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  • 19.
    Label: Silva Screen   Catalog: 1309 Release Date: 07/13/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Pete Moore,  Bernard Herrmann,  David Raksin,  Henry Mancini  ... 
    Performer:  Gareth Williams,  Mark Ayres
    Conductor:  Evan Jolly,  Paul Bateman,  Nic Raine,  Bill Ashton  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Ensemble
    CD: $59.49
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  • 20.
    The 5 Browns In Hollywood
    Label: eOne   Catalog: 2041 Release Date: 04/06/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elmer Bernstein,  Scott Joplin,  Philip Glass,  Richard Rodgers  ... 
    Performer:  Deondra Brown,  Desirae Brown,  Gregory Brown,  Ryan Brown  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The 5 Browns
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  • 21.
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 2732796 Release Date: 03/23/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák,  Robert Browne Hall,  Henry Francis Lyte,  Katie Moss  ... 
    Performer:  Dinnington Colliery Band
    Conductor:  Jonathan Beatty
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dinnington Colliery Band
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  • 22.
    Vintage Cinema - Music From King Kong, Robin Hood, Spellbound, Sunset Boulevard, Etc / Erich Kunzel, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 60708 Release Date: 10/28/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Max Steiner,  Franz Waxman,  Elmer Bernstein,  Miklós Rózsa  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Kunzel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cincinnati Pops
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 23.
    Vintage Cinema / Kunzel, Cincinnati Pops
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80708 Release Date: 10/28/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elmer Bernstein,  Miklós Rózsa,  Bernard Herrmann,  Leonard Bernstein  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Kunzel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cincinnati Pops
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  • 24.
    Best Guitar 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 15241 Release Date: 06/24/2008   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Michael Praetorius,  Joaquin Rodrigo,  Manuel de Falla,  Enrique Granados  ... 
    Performer:  Christopher Parkening,  Ernesto Bitetti,  Manuel Barrueco,  Dario Rossetti-Bonell  ... 
    Conductor:  Antoni Ros Marbŕ,  Jeremy Lubbock,  Elmer Bernstein,  Simon Rattle  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra members  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 25.
    Masters And Commanders - Music From Seafaring Film Classics
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80682 Release Date: 07/24/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Luigi Boccherini,  John Debney,  Morton Gould,  Franz Waxman  ... 
    Performer:  Timothy Lees
    Conductor:  Erich Kunzel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cincinnati Pops
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