Alfred Newman

Biography

Born: March 17, 1901; New Haven, CT   Died: February 17, 1970; Hollywood, CA  
Alfred Newman (1901-1970) was, for much of his career, the most influential and respected composer and music director in Hollywood. His 44 Oscar nominations and nine Academy Awards are both records that are unlikely ever to be broken. The first-born of ten children to an impoverished produce seller in New Haven, Connecticut, Newman manifested his musical interests very early, and by the age of eight was well known locally as a piano prodigy. He Read more played for virtuoso Jan Ignace Paderewski, who arranged a New York recital for the boy, and a performing career seemed in the offing, until he was forced to begin earning a living for his family. Newman worked his way up from vaudeville to the orchestra pit of the Broadway theaters, and eventually became an established conductor and arranger known and respected by all of the best composers, including Irving Berlin. When Berlin was brought to Hollywood at the dawn of the sound era, he arranged for Newman to come with him. There he was taken on by movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn and United Artists, and established himself as one of the movie capital's two undisputed masters of music (the other was Max Steiner). Soon, he also began working for 20th Century-Fox.

Newman spent the 1930s scoring some of the most prestigious movies of the decade, including Street Scene, Dodsworth, Stella Dallas, Dead End, The Prisoner of Zenda, Gunga Din, and Young Mr. Lincoln, among many others. Even when he wasn't working on a particular movie, he was often approached by studio production heads in need of advice when the scoring of a movie ran into trouble. Following his installation as Fox's music director in 1940, Newman worked on How Green Was My Valley, Heaven Can Wait, Song of Bernadette, The Razor's Edge, Captain from Castille, The Robe, and Love Is a Many Splendored Thing, among numerous other films; and, equally telling in his capacity as head of the studio's music department, he assigned the scoring of Laura to David Raksin, who wrote an immortal piece of movie music, and Jane Eyre, Hangover Square, and The Day the Earth Stood Still to Bernard Herrmann. In 1959, he left Fox for a career as an independent artist, and in 1961 conducted the Oscar-nominated score to Flower Drum Song. The next year, he wrote what may be his most familiar film score, How the West Was Won, with lyricist Ken Darby.

Ironically, for all of his accumulated honors, Newman remains viewed as a far greater arranger and conductor than composer. He could assimilate folk tunes or pseudo-folk tunes, as in How Green Was My Valley and How the West Was Won, and transform them into orchestral/choral works of tremendous power, and take a good original melody or two and turn them into something haunting and memorable, as in The Razor's Edge or The Robe. His compositions, however, lacked the boldness or adventurousness of Bernard Herrmann or Miklos Rozsa's most inspired work--his was tonal and accessible music that didn't demand too much of the viewer. But it was the palatable nature of Newman's music, coupled with his diplomatic skills, that helped him achieve his success. His scores were accessible without being trite, original in execution as film music without being jarring or troubling, and his affable nature, in contrast the the volatile, neurotic Herrmann or the seemingly aloof Rozsa, made him a favorite of studio executives. And all of that made his word about music the law in Hollywood for close to 30 years. He died in 1970, and his final soundtrack, for George Seaton's mega-hit Airport, became the last of Newman's 44 Oscar nominations. Read less
Browse 1-14 of 14 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: Contrasts - From The 1960s Back To The 1920s, Vol. 2
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5223 Release Date: 08/11/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Laurie Johnson,  Nino Rota,  Robert Farnon,  Johnny Richards  ... 
    Performer:  Russ Conway,  Max Klein
    Conductor:  Laurie Johnson,  Cyril Ornadel,  Robert Farnon,  Tony Osborne  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rhythmics,  Otto Dobrindt Piano Symphonists,  International Novelty Quartet  ... 
    CD: $9.99
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  • 2.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: Non-stop To Nowhere
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5206 Release Date: 12/10/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jerry Bock,  Florian Zabach,  Raymond Hubbell,  André Previn  ... 
    Performer:  Florian Zabach
    Conductor:  Alfred Newman,  Florian Zabach,  Philip Green,  Percy Faith  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rawicz & Landauer
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  • 3.
    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
    CD: $9.99
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  • 4.
    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,  Gerry Mulligan,  Shelly Manne,  Marilyn Monroe  ... 
    Conductor:  Don Costa,  Nick Perito,  Alfred Newman,  Jerome Moross  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ferrante & Teicher,  The Modern Jazz Quartet
    CD: $13.99
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  • 5.
    Golden Age Of Light Music - The Composer Conducts Vol 2
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5178 Release Date: 09/13/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alfred Newman,  Don Gillis,  Robert Farnon,  Peter Yorke  ... 
    Performer:  Arthur Sandford,  Montague Ewing,  Albert William Ketčlbey,  Harriet Cohen
    Conductor:  Alfred Newman,  Don Gillis,  Robert Farnon,  Peter Yorke  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Neapolitan Novelty Band
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  • 6.
    Great American Gershwin - Rhapsody In Blue, Etc
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 66086 Release Date: 10/31/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Gershwin
    Performer:  Leonard Pennario
    Conductor:  Felix Slatkin,  Alfred Newman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 7.
    Sabre Dance / Newman, Irving, Philharmonia Orchestra, Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 65922 Release Date: 10/22/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aram Khachaturian,  Dmitri Kabalevsky,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Béla Bartók
    Conductor:  Alfred Newman,  Robert Irving
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 8.
    Film Music Classics - Newman / Stromberg, Moscow Symphony
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8570187 Release Date: 09/25/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alfred Newman
    Conductor:  Alfred Newman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Symphony Orchestra,  Moscow Symphony Choir
    Recommendation
    CD: $11.99
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  • 9.
    An Evening With The Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 68860 Release Date: 10/17/1995   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Emmanuel Chabrier,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Emil Waldteufel  ... 
    Performer:  Michael Rabin,  Leonard Pennario
    Conductor:  Felix Slatkin,  Carmen Dragon,  Miklós Rózsa,  Earl Bernard Murray  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
    On sale! $54.98
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  • 10.
    Alfred Newman: Captain From Castile
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 8103 Release Date: 12/14/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alfred Newman
    Conductor:  Alfred Newman
    CD: $9.99
    Back Order
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  • 11.
    The Movies Go to the Hollywood Bowl / Pennario, Rozsa, Newman, Hollywood Bowl SO
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 63735 Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alfred Newman,  George Gershwin,  Charles Williams,  Miklós Rózsa
    Performer:  Leonard Pennario
    Conductor:  Alfred Newman,  Miklós Rózsa
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 12.
    The Orchestra Sings - Great Operatic Themes For Orchestra / Dragon, Newman
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 65430 Release Date: 11/08/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Gioachino Rossini,  Giacomo Puccini,  Charles Gounod  ... 
    Conductor:  Carmen Dragon,  Alfred Newman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capitol Symphony Orchestra,  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
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