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Overview (3)

Born in Chester, Pennsylvania, USA
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA
Birth NameIsadore Soifer

Mini Bio (1)

Alex North studied music at the Curtis Institute of Philadelphia, then won a scholarship to Juilliard in New York (1929) and the Moscow Conservatoire (1933), making him the first-ever American to become a member of the Union of Soviet Composers. In Europe, he worked as music director for the Latvian State Theatre, before returning to the U.S. in 1935 to perfect his craft under the auspices of Aaron Copland. At the same time, he produced his first compositions, including two symphonies, chamber music and dance scores for Martha Graham and Agnes de Mille. After a spell in Mexico as conductor/composer, he served as a captain with the U.S. Army, in charge of 'self-entertainment programs' for hospitalised psychiatric patients. He also did his first film work, scoring documentaries for the Office of War Information.

Profoundly influenced by, above all, Duke Ellington, North began to write several innovative compositions in jazz. His 'Revue for Clarinet and Orchestra' was originally commissioned by Benny Goodman and first performed in 1946 under the direction of Goodman and Leonard Bernstein with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Joining ASCAP in 1947, North went on to compose theatrical scores, including 'Death of a Salesman' for Elia Kazan and this opened the door to Hollywood. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) was the first all-jazz score ever written for a motion picture. His next assignment was the film version of Death of a Salesman (1951), followed by Viva Zapata! (1952), for which he used traditional instruments, including marimbas and timbales.

Much of his subsequent work was characterised by sparse instrumentation (as, for example, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) and the Oscar-nominated Under the Volcano (1984)). He used jazz again, evocatively, to score The Long, Hot Summer (1958) and The Sound and the Fury (1959), but was rather less successful on more conventional themes, such as The Misfits (1961). One of his most beautiful and lyrical works was the love theme from Spartacus (1960). For the small screen, he composed the music for the two instalments of the popular miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man (1976). Alex North was Oscar-nominated fifteen times but only received the coveted statuette as a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1986.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Spouse (2)

Sherle North (1941 - c. 1966) ( divorced) ( 2 children)
Annemarie Hoellger (? - 8 September 1991) ( his death) ( 1 child)

Trade Mark (1)

Composer for many of John Huston's films.

Trivia (5)

Father of Steven North
Son, Dylan, with Hoellger.
Father-in-law of Abby North.
Father of Jasmine Alixandra North.
Stanley Kubrick was initially forced by MGM to have North (who had written the score for Kubrick's Spartacus (1960))compose an original score for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Kubrick, however, always intended to use classical music for the film. Kubrick allowed North to score the first half of the film before informing him they planned to use only sound effects for the second half. It wasn't until he was watching the film at its premiere in New York that North discovered none of his music had been used. North later reused themes composed for 2001 in the films The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968), Shanks (1974), and Dragonslayer (1981). North's original score was unheard for 25 years until composer Jerry Goldsmith re-recorded it for Varese Sarabande in 1993. In 2007, however, Intrada, working with Alex North's estate, released North's personal copies of the 1968 recording sessions on CD.

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