David Amram Biography

David Werner Amram III, 17 November 1930, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. After studying classical music, Amram played French horn with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington. During his military service, he was based in Paris with the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra. On his return to New York he studied at the Manhattan School of Music with Gunther Schuller, recorded with Charles Mingus and played in a band with Oscar Pettiford. In 1956, he began a long association with Joseph Papp and the New York Shakespeare Festival for which he wrote 25 scores over the next 10 years. He has become increasingly well known as a composer of orchestral and instrumental music including film scores and incidental music for the stage. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1959 for the music for Archie MacLeish’s JB. He led a group with George Barrow (tenor saxophone) that played regularly at New York’s Five Spot in the mid-60s, and was composer in residence with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (1966-67), with whom he organized concerts for children and workshops on folk music (especially Latin American) and jazz. In 1969, he went on a State Department-sponsored tour to Brazil and during the 70s visited Kenya, Cuba (where he recorded with Irakere), the Middle East, and Central America. These tours added to his ‘dramatic, colourful scores’, which nevertheless retain the rhythmic, improvisatory character of jazz. Amram’s 1977 release, Havana/New York, was a particularly striking fusion of jazz and Afro-Latin rhythms.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.