...to the field of Light Music, who are known best for certain specific pieces, include:
was born Isaac Cozerbreit in London, England. Isaac studied at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music. As it was the custom for people with Jewish-sounding names, he took a professional, very British-sounding name, Charles Williams as his nom de plume.
(Note: This Charles Williams (1893 - 1978) is NOT to be confused with American character actor Charles B. Williams who worked at Paramount Studios in the 1920s and 1930s on such pictures as "Alexander's Ragtime Band", "Doll Face" and "It's a Wonderful Life." Nor should he be confused with an older British composer Charles Lee Williams who wrote the choral ode "To Music.")
After college, his professional career was unfortunately delayed by the horror known as World War I -- "The War To End All Wars." Fortunately he returned alive from his soldiering experiences, and began a multi-faceted career as a conductor and composer.
Film music offerred opportunities for up-and-coming British composers like Williams who seemed to be at the right place at the right time. In his late twenties which much musical gifts and background, but not requiring the high salaries of more experienced composers just as "the talkies" began, he got a chance to score Alfred Hitchcock's first 1929 film "Blackmail" which was the first British sound motion picture.
Four years later in 1933, he was hired as a staff composer at the large British studio Gaumont which had produced Hitchcock films. He scored the 1935 Hitchcock classic "The 39 Steps", and several comedy films starring the popular British music-hall comedy star Will Hay.
In 1941, Williams began a fruitful association with Chappell Music publishers who had started a Recorded Music Library division that same year to produce "mood music" tracks to score films and early radio dramas. Williams contributed a number of early works for that library which were heard during the early days of British and U.S. television. In fact Williams reputation as a Mood Music composer seems to be the one which stuck, despite his contributions to several filmscores which became known worldwide and his long association as a conductor of Light Music.
Williams conducted a series of Light Music concerts (similar to American "Summer Pops Concerts") at London's Queens Hall. Some of his recordings were distributed on the Columbia label in the United States He recorded music under the name "Charles Williams and his Concert Orchestra" and with "The Queens Hall Orchestra" for the Chappell Recorded Music Library.
Many of his Chappell Recorded Music Library compositions and recordings became well-known. One of the most famous was the THEME for a British radio detective series called "Dick Barton--Special Agent" which used Williams' Chappell library composition "The Devil's Galop" as its THEME. Another daily radio show known as "Morning Music" used his "Rhythm On Rails." And the show "Jennings At School" used his piece "The Old Clockmaker." His "Voice Of London" was a BBC Signature tune for broadcasts of the Queens Hall Orchestra. And the first of his "Five Fanfares" was a logo signature fanfare for the British "ITV" network.
In the United States, "Royal Command" [aka: "Royal Pride"] was an early TV network news theme used for "The Huntley-Brinkley Report" on NBC. Other Williams compositions familiar to world-wide afficianados of Mood Music are "They Ride By Night", "Follow That Car", "With Majesty and Dignity", "The Challenge" and "Romantic Rhapsody."
Also in 1941 Williams scored a motion picture based upon the H. G. Wells novel "Kipps", which received acclaim in Europe. In the U.S. the film was known as "The Remarkable Mr. Kipps."
It should not be forgotten that back in 1938 Williams also contributed to a score for the Alfred Hitchcock film "The Lady Vanishes" in collaboration with Louis Levy, by writing a haunting Title Theme featuring a piano. This piece he co-wrote with Levy was recorded commercially, and foreshadowed a successful film music style Williams used in two subsequent films which would spread his melodies world-wide.
In 1947 Williams scored a WW II war drama film "While I Live." The score included a romantic concerto-like melody featuring the piano, which became so popular it ended up a worldwide Light Music hit -- selling 250,000 copies of sheet music, and numerous recordings -- called "The Dream Of Olwen." In the United States, this piece became the THEME song for the long-running prestigious series "The Hallmark Hall of Fame."
In 1949 he followed up this hit with another -- the title Theme for a motion picture called "Jealous Lover" in Britain, and known as "The Apartment" in the United States. His "Jealous Lover/Theme from The Apartment (vocal title: The Key To Love)" was also a broad romantic melody, often recorded featuring a piano with orchestra.
In recent times, Williams THEMEs have become more well-known to world-wide audiences of British Light Music, Mood Music, and Film Scores. He also is credited with having been a pioneer who inspired later composers of British Light Music and Worldwide Mood Music who followed him.
He died at the age of 85 in 1978.
(pronounced "Ro-ZHAY Ro-ZHAY") was born in Rouen, France. His
father, opera conductor Edmond Roger had been a classmate of Claude
Debussy at the Paris Conservatoire. He whimsically gave his son the
same first and last name, which may have not been such a source of
humor to the boy growing up. Edmond taught his son music theory at an
early age, so that by the time Roger was 18, he was leading his own
little group playing pop tunes.
As a young man, Roger had a subscription to a sheet music service which brought the latest pop tunes from America. So he had the chance to dissect and analyze the latest tunes by his idols George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, and Cole Porter. He also studied the classical works of his favorite "serious" composers Ravel and Stravinsky.
When he began composing, he dabbled in writing piano pieces and a few pop songs published by French publishers including Editions Salabert in Paris. He also was given a chance to score a few French films, but none of them spread his name far and wide.
Roger began his media music career in French radio, leading a 35-piece orchestra for various shows in 1946. He accompanied the big stars of Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier, etc. He also composed pieces for radio shows. This attracted the attention of the Chappell Music Company in London, which hired him as the first French composer to write for their Mood Music library in 1955. He composed 15-20 albums of music for Chappell between 1955 and 1964.
Later he wrote mood music for the Canadian firm of Parry Publishing, and the French mood music wing of Francis, Day & Hunter. At the same time he contributed pieces to Thomas J. Valentino, Inc. of New York -- who recorded them on the "Major Records" mood music label, and filed them for copyright in groups, as for example:
"Romantic Interlude; a musical score consisting of 31 compositions for orchestra"...Thomas J. Valentino, New York; 28Apr55; EP 89245.
Some of his pieces were re-workings of older pieces with alternate titles; The piece he called "Metropolitan Rhapsody" for Valentino was similar to "Gershwinesque No. 2". For Chappell Mood Music he used the pseudonym Cecil Leuter when writing electronic music, or other music that used less than a full orchestra. (Leuter was his Mother's maiden name.)
A melody he wrote attracted the attention of vocalist Nat King Cole, who hired lyricist Julie Mandel to add words to the tune. It was released as "Back In My Arms" recorded by Nat King Cole in 1958.
The British television series "The Prisoner" used several of Roger's pieces in scoring various episodes.
Roger Roger retired from the music business in the 1970s; He passed away in the resort town of Deauville, France in June of 1995 two months before his 84th birthday.
was born in Surrey, England. And his name is not supposed to be
spelled "Hammer"; it's really "Han-mer." As a young man he played
piano for theatricals, and the cinema organ. After service in the
Royal Air Force, he found a job arranging for a popular British radio
show called "ITMA (It's That Man Again)." He started writing Mood
Music when Francis, Day & Hunter (FDH) began their library in
1947. For many years, he was a frequent contributor to several
British Mood Music (production music) libraries of the late 1940's
and early 1950's. It is estimated he composed over 700 pieces which
have appeared in such libraries.
Ron also wrote arrangements for popular London orchestras, including Edmundo Ros, who recorded several of them on his Phase-4 Stereo albums. Despite doing all of the above,Ron also found time to orchestrate theatre music for musical comedies appearing on the London Stage. In 1975 he left England, presumably to "retire to Australia." But within two years he had organized a 50-piece string orchestra in his home town of Brisbane, Australia to perform light music.
Most everyone in Great Britain knows his cue "Changing Moods No. 2", written for the Francis, Day & Hunter (FDH) Music Library, as it was used as the main title theme of the popular British detective series "P.C. 49". American audiences will recognize it as a tongue-in-cheek background cue theme used in the 1950's Superman TV show, and other early syndicated TV series. This piece was melodically related to (used the same motif as) a more serious MOOD cue called "Menace", heard frequently on the "Superman" TV series as well as other dramatic TV shows throughout the 1950s.
His composition "City Desk", also written for Francis, Day & Hunter, included a section which was the quintessential TV News Theme, looped as an introduction to news broadcasts on several radio and TV networks across the world, in the early 1950s through the 1960's, including the CBS radio network in the U.S.
His composition "Pastorale" was the theme for the long-running Australian Radio serial "Blue Hills", and it was commercially released in 1994 on a CD called "Music For a Country Cottage" from British EMI.
Mr. Hanmer passed away in 1994.
was born in Budapest, Hungary as Sandor ("San") Totis. As a child his mother tied his leg to the piano bench to ensure he practiced his piano lessons. But apparently this did not damage him emotionally, for he grew to love music (and remained quite fond of his mother.) Although born in Hungary, he actually grew up in Germany. He became a precocious pianist (called a prodigy at that time and compared to Liszt) and took the professional name of Alexander Laszlo. Apparently his choice of a professional name was an homage to one of the most successful Hungarian-born men in Europe -- the film producer Alexander Laszlo Korda who made his mark producing films in Britain and the United States.
Laszlo was also an orchestra conductor. He composed his first published classical pieces (mostly chamber pieces for violin and piano or piano solo.) These pieces were published by companies in Hungary, Switzerland, and Leipzig, Germany.
In Germany, he was also to write film music ("Kinotheken"). Of course at that time, in the "teens" and 1920s, film music was made to accompany so-called "silent" films. But they were never projected in silence. They used incidental music by composers such as Erno Rapee, Hans Erdmann, Giuseppe Becce, and Alexander Laszlo. It was in this context that Laszlo developed a theory of the relationship of color to music called "Farblichtmusik" (meaning "color-light-music"), and gave piano concerts to audiences as early as 1925 with projected colored light, demonstrating his theory.
Laszlo found work in Germany scoring sound films. But the Nazi regime was showing its true colors preparing for war. So, in 1938, Laszlo immigrated to the United States, settling at first in Chicago, and then in upstate New York. In both areas he found work as a music teacher at various music schools while he pursued re-establishing his fledgling career as a composer in the United States.
In 1943 he got the chance to move West and write film music for low budget Paramount and Republic Pictures. His film scoring assignments of B-pictures including "One Body Too Many" (1944), "Follow That Woman" (1945), "Scared Stiff" (1945), "The Great Flamarion" (1945), "French Key" (1946), "Joe Palooka, Champ" (1946), "Glass Alibi" (1946), "One Exciting Night" (1945), and "The Spiritualist" aka: "The Amazing Mr. X" (1948) among others. He also scored several episodes of a serial which featured a dog named "Pal."
Later he was to write scores for industrial films (for example, a
promotional film called "Dodge '56", and a training film called
"Narcotics", used to train police forces), as well as later
low-budget horror and science fiction films. A total of 53 industrial
and B-picture films and serials were scored during his "American"
period. But it was in the new medium of U.S. Television where he was
to make his lasting mark.
His broadcasting work actually began with a radio show, which was to appear later on TV. He provided the live orchestra and music for the Ralph Edwards series "This Is Your Life" -- which appeared first on radio in 1948, and then in 1952 on TV. Both radio and TV versions used Laszlo's original Theme, a lovely sentimental tune, and various short cues Laszlo either arranged from pop or standard tunes or composed for a particular mood (later he recylced his original cues in his production music library.) On liner notes for an LP album of the "This Is Your Life" TV series, Ralph Edwards thanked his TV Composer-Conductor Von Dexter for the music, but unfortunately Alexander Laszlo -- who had composed cues for the radio series, and the Main Theme used on both radio and TV -- was not credited on the liner notes (just the label.)
(As the result of Laszlo having written the radio THEME which was also used on the "This Is Your Life" TV series, some sources have thought that Laszlo and Dexter were the same person, or that Von Dexter was a pseudonym for Alexander Laszlo. This is incorrect. Von Dexter was a conductor who often worked with Laszlo, but Dexter was born in Chicago as LaVon Hawley Urbanski. We verified these facts with living relatives of both Laszlo and Dexter.)
Laszlo's second radio/TV series was "Dupont Cavalcade of America", which had been on radio since 1935. Apparently Laszlo's music was used starting in 1952 on both the radio and TV versions of this series, which was also sometimes known as "Dupont Cavalcade."
The period of the late 1940s - early 1950s found U.S. television networks expanding rapidly. TV networks were linking the East and West coasts with a cable for live pictures, which they eventually completed in 1952. Many low-budget series for television were being syndicated on film, or provided on film to networks. In 1949, Laszlo was 54. But he saw the possibilities inherent in scoring for the infant TV medium, especially for those low-budget film producers. He realized the low budget productions of this new medium needed a creative approach. So around 1949-50, Laszlo put together two music libraries marketed to radio and television producers and syndicators. He could provide themes and cues at a low cost, in exchange for the rights of re-use.
So his two libraries consisted of recycled cues from his earlier
B-picture and industrial film scores, and of themes for concurrent
radio and TV projects which he retained the rights to syndicate, and
a few Public Domain classical compositions. He could do this since he
was not only the composer, but the de-facto "publisher" of his
original music. Modern-day film and TV studios which squeeze every
ounce of profit from a composer, would probably not have let him get
away with such a thing. But in the infant days of TV, Laszlo was able
to negotiate these re-uses for television which undoubtedly provided
considerable help to his income in his later years.
One of his was libraries "Guild-Universal Music Program Aid Library" (distributed by the Armed Forces Radio Service, division of the Office of Education and Information of the Department of Defense.) He called his other library "Structural Music" (because of an architectural analogy used to promote it.) Laszlo himself marketed "Structural Music" and published its contents under the name "Guild Publications of California."
To compare the two libraries: His "Guild-Universal Program Aid Library" consisted of a set of 50 double-sided discs with between 4 - 8 minutes per side (a little over 400 cues.) His larger "Structural Music" library was an ongoing 11-year project, assembled between 1949 - 1960,which eventually numbered 38 Volumes, and totalled over 1100 cues which had several endings, and were sometimes used to record multiple tracks, so his recorded library(ies) swelled to 3000 tracks by 1959. In a very real sense, "Structural Music" merely grew out of the Guild-Universal PA Library...putting it another way -- as his repertoire expanded, he merely marketed it differently.
Consequently, there is considerable overlap in the contents of the
the libraries. Many of the same titles which appear in the
"Guild...Music Program Aid (PA)" library can also be found in the
larger "Structural Music" library. This overlap is not surprising,
since they were both merely marketing venues for recycling his
repertoire of feature and industrial film cues, plus anything else he
wrote for radio and/or TV.
His "Structural Music" library was marketed for a couple of years using a chart he devised which measured emotions along three axes. One axis represented positive emotions, another negative emotions, and the third were "mechanical" machine-like cues [perhaps "alien emotion"?] cues. From this scale, he derived a numbering system which was used to index the cues and themes in his library. It is not known whether his emotional indexing system was of actual use to him or his clients' cue selectors, or was merely a kind of pseudo-scientific marketing gimmick meant to impress Hollywood producers. Whatever this meant, Laszlo did manage to pursuade the Roland Reed filmed-TV production company, Official Films, the fledgling MCA/Revue Studios and other producers to use his music. But he soon dropped this rather arcane device from his promotional literature, and no references to this emotional ID system appeared in later volumes of "Structural Music."
Although many music suppliers said they recorded in Europe to skirt strict musician's union rules, it was thought that at least some recordings by other producers in fact used local union musicians in what were called "dark" (closed, non-union) sessions. But Laszlo didn't do dark dates. He had lived the first half of his life in Germany and knew many of the musicians and studios there, and it was at that time more economical to record in Germany than in the U.S.
So according to relatives who accompanied him to Europe, Laszlo recorded most of his TV and Film music using the Bavarian Radio orchestra known as "Fraenkisches Landesorchester" in the Nurnburg Radio Studios. In English, this ensemble was know as "The Frankenland State Symphony Orchestra." At one point, this orchestra appeared under the baton of "Erich Kloss" conducting film music of Miklos Rozsa. So it was thought that "Erich Kloss" was merely a pseudonym for fellow Hungarian Miklos Rozsa. "Erich Kloss" also made commercial recordings of several concert works by Laszlo with the Frankenland State Symphony Orchestra in the 1960s. Although this orchestra in concerts might use as many as 72 musicians, for Laszlo's purposes the maximum listed on his cue sheets was usually 55 men, and often for background scoring he used between 42-46 men.
Since Laszlo also was his own publisher, in 1957 he signed an 8-year licensing agreement with Capitol Special Products. He sent them most of his more recently recorded cues (not the ones recycled from old films.) These cues showed up in the catalog with an "SM" [Structural Music] designation in the Capitol "Hi-Q" Library, which was administered by William Loose and later Ole Georg. "Hi-Q" was the next series of discs from Capitol Special Products following the older Capitol "Q" Series which had been licensed from MUTEL music service.
MUTEL ("MUsic for TELevision) scoring service and library, was
started around 1951 by David Chudnow, a former cue selector/music
editor for Hal Roach Studios. MUTEL supplied music to TV series
producers. In 1953, Chudnow also licensed part of his library to the
Capitol "Q" Series library of Capitol Records Special Products, for
use on local TV stations.
In order to keep track of such new uses by customers of the various libraries, the MUTEL pieces licensed to Capitol "Q" were given new titles, and in some cases even new composer credit, often using a pseudonym made up by the library, or using the name of a library employee as "composer". This was the means that music syndicators like Chudnow used for distributing royalties from ASCAP and BMI, based upon their new uses. But it is confusing to collectors and researchers to track just who was the original composer of a particular work. Somehow -- and it is still not known how -- the Racket Squad opener written by Laszlo seemed to become part of MUTEL library.
But this tenuous connection has not been proven. If it existed at all, it only existed for a very few cuts. This author has scanned all the manuscript scores in Laszlo's "Structural Music" which are at the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming, and has not found any CUEs in MUTEL from this source.
One of the cues Laszlo may have provided was a "Racket Squad Main Title" opener which was used by the syndicated TV series (1950.) It was just a few seconds long, but a very original piece which set a sinister mood. (This is not to be confused with the popular "Racket Squad" End Title march -- "Parade of the Chessmen" by Joseph Mullendore [which see].) The curious thing about this CUE is that this author had the opportunity in 1998 to look through the business files and papers of Laszlo. Although mention of the "Racket Squad Main Title" was on Cue Sheets Laszlo created for the first 6 episodes ONLY, no corresponding number in "Structural Music" was found. This was unusual practice for him, since he was always meticulous about such things.
So this suggests the piece may have been a CUE from a film which was not included in "Structural Music", or it was an original short CUE he wrote. Even more odd is that no contract or communication with David Chudnow or MUTEL was found among Laszlo's papers. So an alternate theory is that this CUE was one recyled from "Structural Music" (such as the short "Arch of Violence" used for the opening of Rocky Jones, Space Ranger.)
To illustrate how hard it is to make conclusions from inferences, author/library researcher Paul Mandell has examined ASCAP cue sheets for the show "Racket Squad", and this particular MOOD Cue used as the Opener. Mandell identified this cue by Laszlo as one which appeared in MUTEL, and then this same piece turned up in 3 edits in Capitol "Q", as THEME NO. 428 - OPENING, THEME NO. 428 - CLOSING, and MOOD NO. 428. Mandell points out that ASCAP cue sheets for the first season of "Racket Squad" list the Main Title as: "Racket Squad Main Title" by Alexander Laszlo.
But then -- oddly enough -- in subsequent years, suddenly cue
sheets reveal a new Main Title for the series composed by "Melvyn
Lenard". This name is a pseudonym used to collect royalties by Gordon
Music. Publisher David Gordon (whose sons middle names were Melvyn
and Lenard) published some of the MUTEL Music cues. According to
Mandell, the "Racket Squad" TV series always used the same Main
Title. The "new theme" by "Melvyn Lenard" is just a longer edit of
the same piece of music, which was composed by Laszlo! It is not
known how this transition took place...so this maybe an erroneous
What is known for sure is that for over a decade (from 1950 - 1963), Laszlo was a very busy man scoring TV series, and recycling cues via his libraries. He provided Main and End Title themes for many syndicated and low-budget series of "TV's Golden Age" include: "Beulah" (1950), "The Hank McCune Show" (1950), "Trouble With Father/Stu Erwin Show" (1950), "The New Big Town" [aka: "Headlines"] (1950), "Stars Over Hollywood" [aka: "Gruen Guild Theatre"][aka: "Chevron Theatre"] (1950-54), "Mark Saber Mystery Theatre" (1951), "Rebound" (1951), "The Adventures of Kit Carson" (1951), "Dupont Cavalcade of America" (1952), "My Little Margie" (1952), "Biff Baker, USA" (1952), "This is The Life" (a Lutheran religious show of 1952), "Meet Mr. McNutley/Ray Milland Show" (1953), "General Electric Theatre of the Air" (1953), "It's Your Decision" (1954), "Author's Playhouse" (1954), "Waterfront" (1954), "Rocky Jones, Space Ranger" (1954), "Lone Wolf" (1955), "For Your Information" (1955), "O. Henry Playhouse" (1956), "Dr. Hudson's Secret Journal" (1956), "R.C.M.P." (1960), and several more. In addition to Main and End credits themes, his libraries were also used by producers to underscore episodes of over a hundred early TV series.
Some of his library tracks were used as background cues for episodes of the "Burns and Allen" TV show, although their main title theme was an old show tune called "The Love Nest". Mahlon Merrick also composed an original theme used as a Main and End Credits Theme, found in the MUTEL/Capitol "Q" library, called "Soft Shoe Dance" [MUTEL], and THEME NO. 650 [Capitol "Q".] But Laszlo wrote a third Main and End Credits Theme used on CBS-TV when "Burns and Allen Show" was sponsored by Carnation and others. Laszlo's melody -- called "Two-a-Day" in "Structural Music" [known as "Vaudeville Days" in the Guild/PA library] -- resembles the Maurice Chevalier hit "Valentine." But it is in fact an original Laszlo composition found in several cue arrangements in his "Structural Music" library, in Volumes 20 and 24.
The tune which became the "My Little Margie" Main and End title theme, was heard briefly as a short secondary part of a cue Laszlo scored for the Republic Pictures B-picture "The French Key" (1946.) There were also brief snatches of this melody appearing in two other cues earlier in the library. Perhaps it was due to the fact English was Laszlo's second language, but the title he gave the film cue in "The French Key" was "Bows and Strings In Teas'g" [apparently an abbreviation of the word "Teasing."] Perhaps he meant "Staccato Teaser Theme for Strings" or "Playful Bows and Strings." At any rate, he expanded this charming but very brief pizzicato string section into a full theme, when hired to score the TV series "My Little Margie". It is not unusual for composers to develop ideas more fully and reuse them, especially if they are very busy. No use wasting a good tune...
For its use on TV, he added woodwinds and horns to the pizzicato strings. This melody is in Laszlo's "Structural Music" library in several forms (including the film cue from "The French Key" in Volume 6.) For the expanded versions heard on the TV series (in Volumes 24 and 26), these cues are given titles which begin with "Little M. Fanfares.." and "Bows and Strings..." or merely "Bows - Strings..." Generically, the theme tune is now referred to by ASCAP as "My Little Margie Theme".
Other series themes had quirky names by Laszlo. For example, one of his themes for "Waterfront" are titled "Ahoy-Ahoy!" (the short motif, used as an introduction to the Main Title), "Ship, Ahoy" (used for Main & End Titles) and "Dome of Light" (used as an alternate End Title on both "Waterfront" and "G E Theatre".) For the series "Lone Wolf", the Main Title theme was listed in the library as "The Call", and other variations include the word "...Call...", such as "Call for Meditation" or "Brutality Calls." At other times, his library titles were more closely related to the series for which they were written. For example, his themes to open and close the series "Rocky Jones, Space Ranger" were known as "Arch in Space" and "Space Credits" respectively. For "Dupont Cavalcade of America", the themes were "Glory of America (Arch and Dome)", and for "Mark Saber Mystery Theatre", the themes were "Mystery Story (Arch and Dome)."
He wrote in a preface to his "Structural Music" library Vol. 1, that he was using analogies from the world of architecture to make "Structural Music" more useful to cue selectors. In his elaborate analogy, he explained that the term "Arch" referred to an Opening Theme, and the term "Dome" meant a Closing Theme (in Laszlo-speak.) But it seems like such arcane terms would tend to obscure more then be helpful.
Laszlo's libraries contributed episode cues to several of the early Revue, Screen Gems, Desilu, and Four Star Productions as well, including "Sheriff of Cochise", "U.S. Marshall", "Wyatt Earp", "Wanted--Dead or Alive".
Later in the 1950s, Laszlo found work scoring B-pictures in the low-budget horror/science-fiction genres. They include "Night of the Blood Beast" (1958) aka: "Creature from Galaxy 27", "Ghost of the China Sea" (1958), "Forbidden Island" (1959), and "The Atomic Submarine" (1959.)
It is ironic that during the most productive decade of his life, he had to cope with a series of personal tragedies during the same period. He suffered an automobile accident in 1953. His first wife Arleen (who also helped him run his business) and his daughter both succomed to cancer. He married his second wife, an Australian emigree named Emmy, who was a physician. In order to spend more time with her husband, she quit her practice and went to work for the City Schools in Los Angeles as a school physician.Then in 1955, Laszlo himself was diagnosed with cancer of the blood--leukemia. His prognosis was only 2 years. But he surprised his doctors by continuing to work, living another 15 years, and was active until his last years writing and publishing concert pieces and travelling.
In 1960 (at the age of 65) he composed a score for his final film "Attack of the Giant Leeches" aka: "Demons of the Swamp". He died in 1970, one week short of his 75th birthday. His widow assigned his publishing revenues to the Regents of the University of California, who now administer the rights under the name "Alexander Publications", the name his widow chose for his publishing rights which she inherited. Many of his scores are stored as part of the "American Heritage Collection" (AHC) at the University of Wyoming at Laramie.
was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was a graduate of the
Julliard School of music in New York City.
Although his instrument was the viola, his versatile talents as an
arranger got him work with the famed Harry James dance band in the
1940s. In 1946, Gilbert was hired by Columbia pictures as an
orchestrator. Some of his first assignments in scoring were to
orchestrate small sections of pictures composed by Dimitri Tiompkin
including King Vidor's "Duel In the Sun" (1946), and the Frank Capra
classic "It's a Wonderful Life" (1947). What an entree to the film
He graduated to composing his own scores for such lesser-known pictures including Three Husbands (1950), The Scarf (1952), The Thief (1952), No Time For Flowers (1952), The Moon Is Blue (1953), Witness To Murder (1954), Riot In Cell Block 11 (1954), Naked Dawn (1955), Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956), The Bold and The Brave (1956), Nightmare (1956) and While The City Sleeps (1956.)
Despite the fact these pictures were not major hits, Gilbert's music did earn him the acclaim of two Academy Award nominations -- one for best song (the title song of "The Moon Is Blue" in 1953), and a nomination for best score -- for the 1954 film Carmen Jones -- in which he adapted themes from George Bizet's 1875 opera "Carmen."
He began composing for the fledgling television industry in 1951, working freelance assignments, some of which were written under pseudonyms for the "Mutel" (Music for Television) production library of David Chudnow. Some of these compositions were also distributed as part of the Capitol "Q" Series library in the early 1950s.
These early library pieces ended up being used as main-title themes for "Death Valley Days", "Sky King", "Kit Carson", "Stories of the Century", and "Four Star Playhouse". Four Star was a television production company that was later to play an important role in Gilbert's career. It had been formed by four film actors to showcase their talents. The stars in the Playhouse were Charles Boyer, David Niven, Dick Powell, and Ida Lupino.
In 1958 Gilbert was asked by film producers for whom he had worked in the past, to score a new western television series they were producing for Four Star Television. To circumvent US musician union rules, a library of 90 minutes of music cues would be recorded in Munich, Germany for use in various situations of episode scoring. This series was "The Rifleman" starring Chuck Conners and Johnny Crawford. Gilbert's theme and poignant underscore library for this series attracted attention of the public and industry alike. As a result of this success, Dick Powell offered Gilbert the position of Music Director for Four Star Television, a position he held for five years.
During this period, he further developed the in-house library scoring approach for Four Star, and supervised the productions of many quality series recorded by foreign orchestras, and composed themes for several of the series himself.
During his tenure as Music Director for Four Star, he hired several other composers who developed memorable music themes, including Joseph Mullendore, the ubiquitous Dave Kahn, Leith Stevens, Jerry Fielding, Leonard Rosenman, Rudy Schrager, Arthur Morton, and Jerry Goldsmith (who used a pseudonym.) Nelson Riddle was hired for the series "The Rogues" and Elmer Bernstein for "Saints and Sinners."
Usually Gilbert conducted the European or pickup orchestras used to record these pieces -- most notably an orchestra in Munich, Germany.
In 1962, an album of "Original Themes from Four Star Television Productions" was released on the Dot label, in authentic soundtrack arrangements, conducted by Herschel Burke Gilbert.
Mr. Gilbert died of complications from a stroke in the Spring of 2003, less than a month short of his 85th birthday.
An unsung hero of 1950s - 1960s media music, Joseph Mullendore's
music was memorable and well-written. His was the best kind of mood
music--the kind which can be used for establishing a mood for a
production, yet is so tuneful, it sticks in the mind and could cross
over into commercial light music.
Yet Joseph Mullendore was not one who sought (nor received) the limelight. Content to work for low-budget packagers and publishers, and to write TV episode scores on assignment, he was hardlly known to the public. But his range of haunting themes used on radio and television over three decades, demonstrate what an excellent composer he was.
He could write a sprightly tune such as the march theme called "March of the Rams" for TV production music library "MUTEL" and known as THEME NO. 46 in the "Capitol Q Series" library. Then this theme was in demand for "NBC's Game of the Week"--a network sports show of the 1950s. In fact, this particular tune was sought out so much by high school bands across the country, it was later published in a marching band arrangement under the name "Game of the Week March".
He could also write a haunting dramatic theme like Parade of the Chessman, which was another library track that emerged as the end credits theme of the early TV series "Racket Squad". He could then turn around and write a little ditty to introduce "Private Secretary" (1954), one of two themes used for a whimsical TV series starring Ann Sothern.
He began as an arranger, often scoring the compositions of his colleague Herschel Burke Gilbert and others. The MUTEL library cues he wrote were tracked into many of the early low-budget filmed TV series which were produced at Hal Roach Studios and others, including "The Adventures of Superman."
In the early 1950s, Joseph Mullendore scored two B-pictures, including the 1954 melodrama "Wicked Woman" and scored the Broderick Crawford film "New York Confidential" in 1955. That same year, at the invitation of Gilbert who was Music Director at Four Star Television, Mullendore was given the chance to contribute to many of the company's series episode scores, including "The Rifleman", "Cimmaron City", "Robert Taylor's Detectives", "Burke's Law", and "Richard Diamond".
For Four Star, he also wrote episode scores, and the main title theme for "Zane Grey Theatre" (1956), one of the finest western signature themes ever written. He was nominated for an Emmy award in the 1962-1963 15th Emmy Awards in the category of Outstanding Original Music for music he wrote for "The Dick Powell Theater."
Joseph Mullendore also was the uncredited composer of the title torch song for the Fritz Lang 1956 film noir classic "While The City Sleeps" that had a cast that was a virtual who's who of film noir actors including Dana Andrews, Rhonda Fleming, Howard Duff, George Sanders, Vincent Price, Ida Lupino and John Drew Barrymore.
But it was his work in TV that was to have the most widespread audience. An album containing some of his music from "Honey West" (a female private eye) was released on ABC/Paramount label in 1966. The track "Sweet Honey" is the quintessential sexy blues theme, with saxophone and strings.
His later work included the Wayne Maunder western series "Custer", episode scores for the Rod Serling "Twilight Zone" and three Irwin Allen TV shows -- the "Time Tunnel", "Lost In Space" and "Land of the Giants". During this period he also scored a 1966 espionage film starring Robert Goulet called "I Deal In Danger."
Joseph Mullendore was married to his wife, Virginia Ganahl , in 1947. They were together 39 years until her death in 1986. He had two children: James Ganahl Mullendore and Judith Marie Mullendore -- both of whom passed away in 1997. He died at his home in Pasadena, California in 1990.
was born in France. He was the son of an orchestra musician, and
came to the U. S. as a teenage stow-away on a ship. He studied music
arranging at New York's Columbia University before moving to
California. His first film credit was on the 1937 Gene Autry picture
"Round Up Time In Texas." He worked as an arranger at MGM and at
Republic Pictures, and was Music Director at Republic for a time. He
found that he could get eager composers to work for him, and take
credit or share credit with them by paying "a buy-out fee". He
offered a kind of "ghost writing" opportunity to those who wanted to
work in the business. This is not unheard of although the practice
may seem shoddy. TV composer Mike Post had so many projects being
scored that he hired writers to "ghost write" episode scores under
his aegis during the 1970s-1980s.
In the world of screenwriting, author credits may not include all the people who worked on a script either. So the renaming of compositions and composers, is just another example of how the system works, especially in the low-budget music syndication business.
Kraushaar established an early music production library/scoring service for television. "Omar Music Service" started scoring the Lassie series, but evolved into a larger service (similar to the "Mutel" (Music For Television) library/scoring service of David Chudnow.) Kraushaar even managed to recycle some of Republic's old cues through his library also. Although his name appears as co-composer or composer on several cues or main title themes, Kraushaar was primarily a publisher of themes composed by others.
His credit as composer of the original "Lassie" TV theme, is actually a curious case. The first season theme, called "Secret of the Silent Hills", was actually composed by William Lava, a composer who met Kraushaar while working at Republic Studios. The piece originated as a cue Lava wrote called "Presenting the Doctor" from a 1940s film "The Courage of Dr. Christian." Soundtrack Producer and Production Music Library expert Paul Mandell points out that the second season "Lassie" THEME (credited to Kraushaar as the composer) is actually the SAME as the first season THEME but with a few notes of the melody changed. It's amazing the extent some music packagers went to get not only the publisher's share, but the composer's share as well.
Among the early TV series which were scored using cues from his library are "Hopalong Cassidy", "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", "The Thin Man", "Northwest Passage", and "Adventures of Hiram Holiday" (the Wally Cox series he did after "Mr. Peepers".)
Kraushaar passed away at the age of 93 in Pompano Beach, Florida.
was a talented Los Angeles-area composer (born in Duluth,
Minnesota) who did scoring for B-picture film studios, and then
during TV's first decade, worked often as a "ghost writer" for both
Raoul Kraushaar's music library/scoring service, and for David M.
Gordon's publishing company "Gordon Music" during the 1950s and
1960s. Although the names of Raoul Kraushaar and "Melvyn Lenard" may
have appeared on the cue sheets, Kahn was the actual composer of many
themes, such as "Leave It to Beaver" and "Overland Trail", and others
which were licensed from these libraries which ended up on the air.
It is even possible Kahn ghost-wrote a library track called
"Whirlind" which ended up the Main Title opening THEME for "The
Later Kahn was given co-credit in published sheet music when the themes became popular, although he was the sole composer of the music. He also wrote the first arrangement of Charles Gounod's "Funeral March of a Marionette" used for "Alfred Hitchcock Presents". (In later seasons, other arrangements of this whimsical classical piece were written by Stanley Wilson and Jeff Alexander.)
Through these libraries, many of his cues ended up as episode scores for many TV shows including "Beany and Cecil", "Buckskin", "Cimarron City", "Coronado 9", "Death Valley Days", "Dennis The Menace", "Escape", "Green Acres", "Leave It To Beaver", "M-Squad", "Mike Hammer", "The Millionaire", "My Sister Susan", "Ozzie and Harriet", "Restless Gun", "Rich Man, Poor Man", "The Silent Service", "State Trooper", "Tales of the Texas Rangers", "The Thin Man", "U. S. Marshall", "Wagon Train", "Whirlybirds", and "Wyatt Earp".
Kahn went on to work as a music editor for several series, actually splicing cues written by himself and other composers, into the music tracks at certain points in various TV shows, including "Mr. Ed", "Green Acres" and "Beverly Hillbillies".
David Marvin Gordon was a California music publisher/packager who
supplied music to early TV producers under the name "Gordon Music
Company." He also published some cues for other packagers including
the "MUTEL" (Music for Television) scoring service of David Chudnow,
Raoul Kraushaar and Revue Studios.
David Gordon would often "share" credits with his composers, using a pseudonym of made up names, usually based upon a combination of various family member names--Melvyn Lenard, Melvyn Lenard Gordon, G. David, Jay Marilyn, Ruth Layne, and other endless variations.)
In some cases, the actual composer turned out to be Dave Kahn, who also worked for Raoul Kraushaar and others suppliers of music, or William Lava who was with Kraushaar when he worked at Republic Studios. Gordon published sheet music of the Lassie theme under the name "Secret of the Silent Hills", and he gave proper credit to William Lava as composer.
Irving Gertz and other composers for B-Pictures sometimes found that their "works for hire" had been sold to Gordon who would make a deal with the producers, and sometimes re-title and put his name on the tracks for royalty purposes. More about this practice later.
Gordon also published arrangements of music which started out as a library track in other libraries but became so popular with the public, that band arrangements were requested for high school marching bands. Such was the case with a march composed by Joseph Mullendore appearing in the Mutel library as "March of the Rams". This MUTEL march was actually edited into two marches for the Capitol "Q" Series library --"Theme No. 46 (sports - march)" and "Mood No. 50 (sports - march)".
"Theme No 46" was popularized after it was used by NBC sports for their "Game of the Week" broadcasts. Gordon published a band arrangement of it under the name of "Game of the Week March".
The other edit of the piece--"Mood No. 50"--became the main title march used of "The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin".
The above way that this one piece was licensed to two libraries, and then edited into two different marches--which generated two new sets of royalties, is indicative of the way music syndicators could re-package music to generate new uses. It is similar to the way that every part of a pig is used in the meat processing business -- "everything but the whistle."
Gordon had an early relationship publishing THEME music that used for Revue Television series. Perhaps that explains how his pseudonym "Melvyn Lenard" ended up as on ASCAP Cue Sheets as composer of the Main Title for "The Millionaire", a series Revue produced from 1955 - 1960. Although there were at least two different End Credits THEMEs, one Main Title THEME was used most frequently which sounded like a library track and had the sub-title "Whirlwind." So was some confusion over whose composition was actually used for the Main Title claimed by "Melvyn Lenard."
In March, 2003, ClassicThemes.Com contributor David Schecter wrote to report he had a conversation with composer Irving Gertz who revealed that the "Millionaire" Main Title was actually a cue Gertz composed called "Betting Montage" for a 1951 B-picture "The Two-Dollar Bettor." He had not known the film's producer would license the score to packager David Gordon, and was surprised when he heard his music used to open "The Millionaire" TV series for so many years.
In later years, Gordon retired to Palm Springs, California and left the publishing business to his sons.
Mahlon Le Grande Merrick was born in Farmington, Iowa, When he was five years old, Mahlon's family moved to Centralia, Washington where he grew up. Although he studied Mathematics and Physics at the University of Washington, intending to become a science teacher, he played saxophone in local bands and orchestras while in college to pay his tuition. He found the music business was so much more fun and lucrative that he took the step of changing his major to music.
He switched to Washington State University at Pullman where he studied both music and education, graduating in 1923. He was employed as a music teacher briefly in Redmond, Washington. But his ambition for the more professional side of music was gaining momentum. Enrolling in graduate studies at the prestigious Chicago Conservatory of Music, he studied with reknowned composition instructor Leo Sowerby who also wrote for saxophone. Merrick played in bands in the Davenport, Iowa area near the town where he was born before returning to the West Coast.
After coming back to the West, he worked briefly in Spokane playing in hotel orchestras and his first radio job at the spokane radio station KHJ (call letters that would later be re-assigned to a Hollywood radio station.)
He next moved to San Francisco and played in the prestigious orchestra of the Palace Hotel. Since San Francisco was the West Coast headquarters of radio broadcasting networks at that time, his local radio music background helped him get his first job on the network radio program "Blue Monday Jamboree", and to a job working for the NBC radio network at the studios of KFRC.
He was offered the prestigious position of Music Director of the Don Lee Radio Network -- a West Coast network which later became part of the Mutual Radio. This required Merrick to move to Los Angeles. In 1935 his Los Angeles connections led to an opportunity to become Jack Benny's Music Directo, and he accepted.
His arrangements of the Jack Benny radio opening [a medley of "(I'm A) Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "Love In Bloom"] and closing THEME ["Hooray For Hollywood"] became very well-known signatures as Benny's star continued to rise.
When Benny eventually created his1952 primetime TV sitcom, Mahlon got a chance to write "The Jack Benny Theme" -- a composition specifically written for the CBS TV series which became one of the most widely heard and least known THEMEs on television. (He wrote several other TV THEMEs for two other Benny TV shows which weren't as charming, but his CBS TV THEME was a classic.) He worked closely with arranger Carl Brandt who later became a staff composer/arranger for Warner Brothers.
Musical advertising jingles (such as "Barbosol" and "Have You Tried Wheaties?") had been broadcast on network radio since the 1920s. But Merrick promoted himself as a pioneer in creating musical jingles for television commercials. This was primarily due to the arrangements he made on the Jack Benny show during the 1930s and 1940s for the "Sportsman Quartet" who sang sponsor's jingles including several comedic jingles for Lucky Strike cigarettes.
But his reputation in this area was also cemented by the popularity of a jingle he composed in 1952 for the Gillette Safety Razor Company using their slogan "Look Sharp -- Be Sharp." This stirring march sung by a male chorus also incorporated another Gillette slogan in the introductory section "How Are You Fixed For Blades?" The jingle became famous on radio, and soon found its way onto television as the THEME song of "The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports" -- a weekly NBC-TV series which featured boxing mostly.The catchy tune caught on with the public. A marching band arrangement was made of it in 1954 by band arranger Paul Yoder for high schools and colleges to perform.
Over 100 TV commercial jingles composed by Merrick included:
Mahlon Merrick also began to branch out in the business of scoring television series besides Jack Benny. Several other shows for which he composed Main Title/End Credit THEMEs are: the Ann Sothern series, "Private Secretary", the Bob Cummings series "Love That Bob", "The Life Of Riley", "Burns and Allen", "The People's Choice", and "NFL Sports."
His background writing marches for his alma mater, for Gillette and his connection with NFL Sports led to his composiing several marches for use behind highlights shows produced by NFL Films. And in an ironic twist, a march he wrote called "Colossus of Columbia" was used 25 years after his death for the cable TV series "The NFL on Fox" (1994 - present.) In one quarter alone, a BMI royalty statement sent to his heirs lists157 performances of that march.
Throughout most of his professional life in Los Angeles, Merrick made his home in the Pacific Palisades suburb of Los Angeles. After retiring to Palm Springs, Mahlon Merrick succombed to cancer in August, 1969.
Another musician who started in the East and came West was Leon
Klatzkin. He wrote music and was a music cutter (music editor) for
Hal Roach films--in 1951 he is credited with scoring Roach's version
of "Tales of Robin Hood", a black and white version which only lasted
Although he was an ASCAP composer, he was more often used as a Music Editor. His early projects include 20th Century Fox TV series, "My Friend Flicka", "Broken Arrow", and others.
He will perhaps be best remembered for the stirring music which opened and closed the "Adventures of Superman", the 1951 Syndicated TV series starring George Reeves. The famous Main Title music included two cues--a "main flying theme" and a "march" section--which were combined into one of the most famous opening sequences of any series on television. The End Title and Trailer cues consisted only of the "march" played at various tempos with various edits.
The opening sequence for the series combines many elements in a montage which summarizes the origin and powers of "Superman", as if anyone needed to be educated about how he could "leap tall buildings with a single bound", was "more powerful than a locomotive" and "faster than a speeding bullet."
Klatzkin's sound montage behind this sequence combined the two music cues with sound effects of a train, a bullet, and an airy building-leaping effect, which could also be run backwards for Superman landing back on Earth. For its time, it was a memorable job of sound editing--almost equal to the process of music composition itself.
In a surprising telephone interview in the late 1980s from his Los Angeles home, Klatzkin discussed the fact that writing the Main Title and End Credits for "Superman" was just another commissioned project which he said was recorded on a New York sound stage. He said the episode scores were library cues recorded in Europe (by which he meant Mutel and other libraries which supplied the series he edited.) He did not remember other details about the Main Title theme, or keep his manuscript score. He said he turned the manuscript into his publisher, the Bourne Company (who ended up discarding it.) In fact, Klatzkin was more eager to discuss his role as a composer of episode scores for the CBS TV western "Gunsmoke", than the "Superman" main title which may have made him immortal among TV theme afficianados.
Subsequent research by Superman TV Series expert Paul Mandell, has revealed that Klatzkin--who was well known as a music editor--may have been given credit for composing pieces which he in fact merely re-edited, for the Mutel and Capitol "Q" Series library and for syndicated shows Mutel serviced, including Superman.
Ghost-writing (aka: "ghosting") is a practice that has been a long tradition in Hollywood music scoring circles, both for feature films and TV series. This system exists for two reasons: it allows novice composers to gain practical experience, and it helps out more established composers who have a contract when they get overbooked. (A cynic might say that in the case of those "composers" like Leon Klatzkin, David Gordon [aka "Melvyn Lenard"], or Rauol Kraushaar, the practice of "ghosting" may have existed for a third reason: it benefited those who were more packager or cue selector than composer.)
However insidious this practice may appear to the layman from the point of view of 50 years later, this author believes that those who were "ghosting" went into this type of assignment at the time with their eyes open, and if any explotation occurred it was for the most part with the knowledge and consent of the exploited. Taking a devil's advocate position, it would be hard to "hide" the use of works that were being broadcast for years on TV, if some contract did not cover it, however unfair that contract may have turned out to be in hindsight. Remember, that in the early days of TV, no one knew whether TV (sometimes thought of as "radio with pictures") was a fad or was something that would last. No one could have foreseen the eventual size of TV including syndication and cable and satellite reruns. So if a composer in the early 1950s was offered a buyout contract to "ghost" for someone without credit or future royalites, at least he was working that week. As to the names of the original composers who may have "ghosted" for Klatzkin on various projects, their names are unknown at this time.
These libraries (also known as music syndicators) "re-cycled" cues and themes often composed for old movies or other purposes, licensing them to customers who were syndicators of low-budget TV series. When the new series aired on TV stations across the country, this generated new "useage credits" in the verbiage of ASCAP and BMI, who collect performance royalties from TV and radio stations. These "new uses" were not to be confused with the older uses which might still be generated if an old movie ran on TV or the original cue was aired in another series.
Although the practice of assigning additional composer credits may seem shoddy, the sale of all "Grand Rights" in a copyright is not illegal. So the new owner often assigned a new title and/or a new composer's name to collect money for new uses. The new cue title (and/or composer name) enabled the library to collect ASCAP and BMI royalties which these new uses generated. Probably the original composers had long ago signed away all rights to the studio or publisher who then re-sold them to Mutel to do with what they wanted. Or, in the case of Alexander Laszlo, the composer/publisher himself directly signed a contract with Mutel for re-using his cues.
Since Klatzkin, the music editor, was a MUTEL employee as well as a composer/member of the musician's union, his name was a natural choice for being used as a way of collecting these royalties generated by the new uses of customers of the Mutel library. Although this was not discussed openly at the time, it is a practice which must have had a legal basis in the contracts Mutel signed with composers, or else these composers would have complained loudly when these TV series aired nationwide for decades.
In the telephone interview, Klatzkin also took pride in his work composing for Four Star Television series, prior to the arrival of Herschel Burke Gilbert in 1958, after which his main title themes and Four Star Signature piece were replaced with new ones composed by Gilbert, Joseph Mullendore, and others. Klatzkin was ill with heart disease the last several years of his life, and died in 1992 at his home in Marina Del Rey, California.
was born in New York under the birth name of Bernard Greenwald. He graduated from New York University College of Fine Arts in 1932, and first came to public notice as the conductor/composer of the "Henry Morgan Radio Show", also known as "Here's Morgan" (1940 - 48).
Other radio series he composed and/or conducted included the Dashiell Hammett detective series "The Fat Man" (1946 - 51) and he composed themes for the dramatic suspense series, "The Clock" (on ABC radio from 1946 - 1948, and the first TV version on NBC-TV 1949 - 1951.)
Bernard was the composer of one of the most delightful TV themes
ever recorded, for the Wally Cox TV series "Mr. Peepers" (1952 - 55).
The theme featured eclectic woodwinds and strings, including soprano
recorders playing the melody. He conducted the live orchestra in New
York, performing the background cues during the show's three-year
He went on to conduct and compose for the TV variety show "Caesar's Hour" (1954 - 57) which featured comedian Sid Caesar, and later, for the comedy/variety "Garry Moore Show" during the two years from 1966 - 67. He also wrote music for the Miss Universe and Miss U.S.A. pageants from 1968 until his death in 1975. His hobbies were yachting and woodworking.
He also scored the TV series Pulitzer Prize Playhouse (1950 -1952), "Adventure" (1953), "United States Steel Hour" (1953 - 1963), the cartoon "Cool McCool" (1966 - 69), the second "Blondie and Dagwood" series (1968 - 69), and "Make a Wish" (1971 - 76). His United States Steel Hour March Theme was made into a suite for Concert Band.
He wrote a symphony, and a composition called "The White Magnolia Tree", and a novelty audiophile album called "More Than You Can Stand In Stereo".
was born in New York. As a young man in college in the late 1930s,
he originally began pre-med studies, but then switched to music. He
learned to play trumpet well enough to make a living at it for a few
years. Then he tried his hand at arranging during the Swing era, for
dance bands including Freddie Martin, and for several network radio
shows. Discovering his talent was much stronger in arranging than in
playing music, he came out West. In Hollywood he found work with MGM
Studios as a staff orchestrator for movie musicals, featuring
Jeanette MacDonald, Jimmy Durante, and Lauritz Melchior.
In 1947 he was hired by Republic Pictures where he not only could orchestrate, but try his skills as a full-fledged composer. He found most of his assignments were "B" westerns with titles like "Powder River Rustlers" (1949) and "Hills of Oklahoma" (1950). His administrative skills were appreciated more, as he rose to the position of Music Director for the studio, co-ordinating scoring assignments, and stretching budgets, and re-using tracks, etc. In short, he learned the tricks of the trade as a low-budget studio music man to assemble a serviceable score from a pastiche of sources.
In 1954 his success in doing this, caused him to be hired away from Republic to become Music Supervisor for Universal's Studios new television production wing--called Revue Studios. His position was "creative". Another executive handled music "business" details for the ever-corporate MCA/Revue.
Wilson had the responsibility for devising a plan for scoring each Revue production. He had a lot of power in that position--the power to hire composers, and to make creative decisions about the music scoring for each Revue series, so that the music, at least stayed within budget. Initially the budgets forced Wilson to use his learned skills in stretching resources, to score TV shows with fillers like Capitol "Q" and/or MuTel library tracks.
Another perk of being the studio's Music Supervisor was you could appoint yourself to write main-title themes (and collect ASCAP and BMI royalties on same.) One of the earliest THEMEs he is credited with co-writing was for "The Millionaire" (syndicated title: "If You Had a Million") produced from 1955 - 1960 which was one of the first and best known TV series from Revue Productions. There were four different THEME melodies used on "The Millionaire" series at various times and for its subsequent syndication, so it is possible that Wilson was at least composer of one or more of them...although music publisher David Gordon claimed credit at one point using his pseudonym Melvyn Lenard.
In 1958, budgets at Revue grew to where more and more original composers could be hired to score episodes. For the first season of the police drama "M-Squad" (1957), Stanley Wilson wrote an opening theme which was later replaced by a big-band blues written by Count Basie. In all fairness to Mr. Wilson, he had to make the decision to replace his own theme when other considerations were at stake. This replacement occurred when the public attention on Mancini's jazz score of "Peter Gunn" TV series (1959) caused music directors and producers to switch to scoring crime shows with jazz. The "M-Squad" main title and some incidental themes composed by Basie were later released as a successful LP album with the orchestra conducted by Stanley Wilson.
Wilson was in the fortunate position of being able to attract better composer/arrangers to the medium of network TV during its first decade. To his credit, he did bring in many good people, including Elmer Bernstein, Jerome Moross, and the young John T. Williams (who was known as "Johnny Williams", up and coming studio pianist and composer, in those days.) Bernstein took over scoring "General Electric Theatre", Jerome Moross worked on "Wagon Train", and Williams wrote for several Revue series including "Alcoa Premiere", "Bachelor Father", "The Chrysler Theatre", and "Wide Country".
During his tenure at Revue, Stanley Wilson composed main-title themes for several TV series. These included the westerns "Cimarron City", "Buckskin", and the memorable first theme of "Tales of Wells Fargo" (1957). He wrote one of the "Wagon Train" series themes for its release in syndication (called "Major Adams, Trailmaster".)
He composed a smooth latin-style detective theme for a series called "Markham" (1959) which featured suave actor Ray Milland. He wrote a "General Electric Theatre Logo" theme in the seasons following Elmer Bernstein's more grandiose theme (which introduced host Ronald Reagan.) And Wilson wrote one of the arrangements of the classical novelty piece "Funeral March of a Marionette", which was used as the signature introducing "Alfred Hitchcock Presents".
The "Universal City Emblem" was also co-written by Stanley Wilson and Juan Esquivel. This piece was a fanfare heard for many years as a trailer theme at the tag end of virtually every Revue TV/MCA-distributed television series which aired on American television from the 1960s through the early 1990s. It is probably one of the most famous four bars of music ever heard on television. The first two bars begins with unison french horns in a kind of inverted "Big Ben" figure, and then a "fandango figure" of triplet eights are played by the whole brass section as an answer phrase. This bombastic ending is typical of the Esquivel style which made him the darling of the "Space Age Bachelor Music" set recently.
A couple of variations were made of the "Universal City" Revue Emblem. One which appeared in the 1980s was overlaid with a distracting synthesizer arpeggio. Finally, a second arrangement at a faster tempo was used. It had a foreshortened brass finale, edited to a single tonic chord. It's hard to fathom the need to clip 3 seconds from such a short tag, but the never-ending pressures for air time on TV are relentless.
Although he was not known as a recording artist, Stanley Wilson made a few instrumental concept albums late in his career. He also recorded an album of Revue TV music called "Themes To Remember". Stanley Wilson and his Orchestra recorded for the Decca and Charter labels. Unfortunately his album career was cut short by his death in 1970, at the age of 53.
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