David Raksin

  • Born: (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)
  • Died: (Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California, USA) age 92

David Raksin was an American composer who was noted for his work in film and television. With over 100 film scores and 300 television scores to his credit, he became known as the "Grandfather of Film Music.

He went on to study composition with Harl McDonald at the University of Pennsylvania and later with Isadore Freed in New York and Arnold Schoenberg in Los Angeles. In New York Raksin worked as an arranger for Harms/Chappell. One of his earliest film assignments was as assistant to Charlie Chaplin in the composition of the score to Modern Times (1936). He is perhaps best remembered for his score for the film Laura (1944). The theme music for the film, "Laura", with the addition of lyrics by Johnny Mercer, became a major hit. During Raksin's lifetime, "Laura" was said to be the second most-recorded song in history following "Stardust" by Hoagy Carmichael and Mitchell Parish.

Raksin's theme song "The Bad and the Beautiful" (also called "Love is For the Very Young") for the 1953 film The Bad and the Beautiful (1953) was also a hit, although not as popular as "Laura". Raksin insisted that the song be released as an instrumental because he had resented having to split the proceeds from "Laura" with a lyricist. Raksin's theme for "The Bad and the Beautiful" was initially disliked by the film's director Vincente Minnelli and producer John Houseman, but was saved from rejection by the intervention of Adolph Green and Betty Comden, who both liked it. The theme has since been praised by Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Rosenman, Richard Rodney Bennett, and Alexander Courage. Sondheim reportedly called it "one of the best themes ever written in films".

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