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Alfred Newman was born into a poor Connecticut family in March 1901, one of ten children. Yet he received good musical education and one of his most notable mentors was Arnold Schoenberg. While in his teens, he showed promising sign on the piano, in composition and conducting. At the age of 19, George White Scandals, musical director of the Broadway Hit, appointed him as the youngest conductor to appear on Broadway. In 1930 he moved to Hollywood with the idea of being a writer and conductor of musicals. It was an over-subscribed profession, but he found a market for his work in various film studios. In 1939 he was appointed head of music for 20th Century Fox, though at that time he would still have stated a reluctance to commit his life to films. He was also involved with conducting the recently formed Hollywood Bowl orchestra, though he disliked appearing in the public gaze.

Of all the talented, groundbreaking composers active during Hollywood’s golden age, Alfred Newman was perhaps the most powerful, most influential and certainly most insightful. He remained with 20th Century Fox until 1960, during which time he worked on 225 films, winning nine Academy Awards, and receiving 45 nominations. He never retired, completing his score for the film Airport only weeks before his death in 1970. He was a perfectionist, and was to have one of the most significant influences on film music in the second half of the century.

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