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May 10: Music for Movies

May 10, 2013

10-king-kong-1933-grangerTwo great movie composers, Max Steiner and Dimitri Tiomkin, were born on this date in 1888 and 1899, respectively. Steiner, a Viennese refugee from Nazism, created musical themes for over three hundred films, including King Kong, Casablanca, The Summer Place, The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Caine Mutiny, and Gone with the Wind. Tiomkin, born in Russia, emigrated to the U.S in the 1930s and scored dozens of films, including Lost Horizon, Meet John Doe, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, It’s a Wonderful Life, Giant, Dial M for Murder, Strangers on a Train, The Guns of Navarone, and High Noon (“Do Not Forsake Me O My Darling”), for which he won an Oscar. Tiomkin also wrote the theme song for the Rawhide television series, cracking whip and all. He received twenty-two Academy Award nominations and won four.

“[Tiomkin’s] trademarks, huge, noisy cues, propulsive adventure themes that seemingly employed every brass instrument ever invented, and melting, emotionally wrought melodies accompanying romantic scenes also became the stock-in trade of just about every film composer since.” —David Wallace