Ernest Gold Biography

Ernst Golder, 13 July 1921, Vienna, Austria, d. 17 March 1999, Santa Monica, California, USA. A composer, conductor and arranger for movies from the 40s through to the 80s, Gold was a child prodigy and wrote a full-length opera when he was only 13. After studying at the State Academy of Music in Vienna, he fled with his family to the USA in 1938 when the Nazis gained control of Austria. A year later his first symphony was performed by the NBC Orchestra. After writing a few popular songs such as ‘Practice Makes Perfect’ (with Don Roberts), which became popular on record for both Bob Chester and Al Lavelin in 1940, Gold moved to Hollywood in 1945, where he worked with George Antheil and began writing scores for a series of small budget films. These included The Girl Of The Limberlost (1945), Smooth As Silk (1946), The Falcon’s Alibi (1946), G.I. War Brides (1947), Lighthouse (1947), Wyoming (1947), Exposed (1947), Old Los Angeles (1948), Unknown World (1951), Jennifer (1953), Man Crazy (1953), Karamoja (1954), The Other Woman (1954), and The Naked Street (1955). His breakthrough came when he was commissioned by director Stanley Kramer to conduct and/or orchestrate several movies, including two Frank Sinatra dramas, Not As A Stranger (1955) and The Pride And The Passion (1957). He also worked on Matty Malneck’s score for the acclaimed Billy Wilder picture Witness For The Prosecution (1957). Further Kramer projects followed, and Gold composed the scores for his The Defiant Ones (1958), Inherit The Wind (1960), Judgement At Nuremberg (1961), Pressure Point (1962), A Child Is Waiting (1963), and Ship Of Fools (1965). His scores for On The Beach (1959), The Secret Of Santa Vittoria (1969), and It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), were nominated for Oscars, with the latter also being nominated for best title song (written with Mack David). Gold won the Academy Award and two Grammys for his music to Otto Preminger’s epic Exodus (1960), and there were hit instrumental versions of the main theme by Ferrante And Teicher, Mantovani, and Eddie Harris. Pat Boone wrote a lyric for the re-titled ‘Exodus Song’. Gold’s other film music included Unidentified Flying Objects (1956), Edge Of Hell (1956), Running Target (1956), Affair In Havana (1957), Man On The Prowl (1957), Too Much, Too Soon (1958), Wink Of An Eye (1958), Tarzan’s Fight For Life (1958), The Screaming Skull (1958), The Battle Of The Coral Sea (1958), The Young Philadelphians (1960), A Fever In The Blood (1961), The Last Sunset (1961), The Wild McCullochs (1975), Fun With Dick And Jane (1977), Cross Of Iron (1977), Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff (1979), The Runner Stumbles (1979), Tom Horn (1980), Safari 3000 (1982). He also conducted and/or orchestrated Unknown World (1951), Sirocco (1951), Jennifer (1953), and Daughter Of Horror (1955), as well as composing the music for television projects such as Footsteps (1972), The Small Miracle (1973), Betrayal (1974), Letters From Frank (1979), Marciano (1979), Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story (1985), Dreams Of Gold: The Mel Fisher Story (1986), and Gore Vidal’s Lincoln (mini-series) (1988).

In parallel with his Hollywood career, Gold continued to write classical music, and served as the musical director of the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra and was founder and principal conductor of the Los Angeles Senior Citizens Orchestra. Gold’s foray into the world of musical theatre was not successful, and his I’m Solomon closed after seven performances on Broadway in April 1968. His score for that show utilised folk music themes in an appealing way, a practice that he had previously used in some of his film work. Gold’s chief collaborators were Robert Sour, Don McCray, Anne Croswell, and Jeanette Keller. His first wife was singer Marni Nixon, known particularly for dubbing the screen voices of Audrey Hepburn, Deborah Kerr, and Natalie Wood.

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

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