|Born||in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA|
|Died||in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California, USA (heart failure)|
|Nickname||Grandfather of Film Music|
Mini Bio (1)
David Raksin's father Isidore, who both conducted and owned a music store, taught his son to play piano as well as woodwind instruments at an early age. He eventually studied music with Arnold Schönberg, but became by-and-large a self-taught multi-instrumentalist (organ and percussion), as well as composer and arranger for radio and for his own jazz/dance combo which he led at the age of 12 ! In between classes at the University of Pennsylvania, he often worked gigs and jam sessions, playing clarinet. After graduation, he joined Benny Goodman for a while and then got his major break when the conductor Al Goodman bought his arrangement for 'I Got Rhythm'. Goodman pianist and famous wit, Oscar Levant, was impressed and recommended David to his lifelong friend George Gershwin, who in turn helped him to get a job with the publishing company Harms/Chappell.
At the behest of Alfred Newman, who was in charge of the 20th Century Fox music department, David was invited to Hollywood in 1935. His first assignment was as arranger (in conjunction with Edward B. Powell) of the musical score for the Charles Chaplin film Modern Times (1936), but the collaboration with the famous comedian was not an entirely happy experience. At one stage, David was fired after making a stand on improvements to the score, which Chaplin did not appreciate. He was reinstated only due to Alfred Newman's intercession but, ultimately, never received due credit for his input. Many of his other early Hollywood orchestrations suffered a similar fate. For several years, David worked on a variety of second features, often horror films, but occasionally broke out of the mold, as with the 'Polka Dot Ballet' written for The Gang's All Here (1943). The big career-changing breakthrough happened in 1944, when both Alfred Newman and Bernard Herrmann refused to score the Otto Preminger movie Laura (1944). Newman was already overloaded with assignments, and, in any case, rumours persisted at the studio, that this was the type of film unlikely to enhance a composer's reputation. Johnny Mercer and David Raksin eventually landed the job, the former writing the lyrics and David composing the score with the central theme being the romantic ballad 'Laura'.
This evocative, wonderfully haunting piece of music has since become one of the most often recorded in history and the only song Cole Porter admitted to being jealous of not having composed himself. It was also one of Frank Sinatra's personal favorites. However, the 'Laura' theme might have been stillborn if Preminger had gone with Gershwin's 'Summertime' or Duke Ellington's 'Sophisticated Lady', as he had intended to do at first. David stood his ground with the director (as he had previously with Chaplin and would later do with Alfred Hitchcock), arguing that these pieces were unsuitable for the film because "of the accretion of ideas and associations that a song already so well known would evoke in the audience". While he would always have his fair share of detractors, who thought his music too complex or too avant-garde, David Raksin was now on his way to becoming a significant film composer in Hollywood. His next memorable achievements were the score for the lavish costume drama Forever Amber (1947), with yet another haunting melodic leitmotif; the off-beat, almost expressionistic Force of Evil (1948), particularly the finale; the stirring theme for the all-star movie The Bad and the Beautiful (1952). Later noteworthy efforts included Carrie (1952), Separate Tables (1958) and Two Weeks in Another Town (1962).
What set David Raksin apart from other film composers was his unmitigated willingness to experiment, to be creatively different. In so doing, he enhanced the impact of, and, in the long run, the reputation of many a motion picture. David also composed for the small screen (for instance, the theme for Ben Casey (1961)) and for the stage ('Volpone', 'Mother Courage', 'The Prodigal'). When not writing music or conducting, he lectured in music theory and technique at the University of Southern California and at UCLA (1958-2003). He served eight terms as president of the Composers & Lyricists Guild of America. He was awarded the Golden Soundtrack Award in 1992 by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis