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MAX STEINER

Maximillian Raoul Walter Steiner was born in Vienna on 10 May 1888. After completing, in one year, a four-year course at the Imperial Academy of Music, Steiner’s dramatic instincts guided his musical path toward operetta, and at the age of sixteen he wrote and conducted The Beautiful Greek Girl. Classified an enemy alien while working in London at the outset of the first World War, Steiner was befriended by the Duke of Westminster and was given exit papers to go to America. He arrived in New York in December, 1914, with thirty-two dollars in his pocket.

After spending fifteen years as an arranger, orchestrator and conductor of musical productions written by Herbert, Kern, Youmans and Gershwin, Steiner went to Hollywood to adapt Rio Rita for RKO Radio Pictures. Although in those early years at RKO, the scores mostly consisted of a main title, perhaps a snippet or two during the film, and then the end title, the score that brought Steiner to everyone’s attention was King Kong. As soon as the audience hears that three-note theme—those three massive darkly orchestrated descending chords—it knows it is in for a fantastic experience. In addition to composing scores, such as Morning Glory, the Lost Patrol, The Informer, and well over a hundred others, Steiner also acted as the arranger-conductor on many RKO musicals such as The Gay Divorcee, Roberta, Top Hat and Follow the Fleet.

In 1936, while under contract to Selznick International, Steiner was lent to Warner Bros. to score The Charge of the Light Brigade with Errol Flynn leading the noble Six Hundred, after which Steiner accepted a long-term contract, with the provision that he could work for Selznick when the producer needed him.

It is doubtful if any composer in history has worked harder than Max Steiner. His peak year was 1939, in which he worked on twelve films, including Gone With The Wind for Selznick. Steiner’s career at Warners spanned almost thirty years and included the scores of around a hundred and fifty films. Not unnaturally, there was a fair amount of self-plagiarism and repetition, especially toward the end, but the general level of craftsmanship and the consistent understanding of the musical needs of filmic story-telling added up to an astonishing total contribution. Outstanding among his scores are Dodge City, They Died With Their Boots On, Now Voyager, Casablanca, and Since You Went Away (for Selznick), Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Adventures of Don Juan, The Glass Menagerie, The Searchers, and A Summer Place.

After years of enduring failing eyesight and the agonies of cancer, Max Steiner’s heart stopped on 28 December 1971. The boy who had sat on the lap of Emperor Franz Josef had lived to be almost eighty-four. Often complimented as the man who invented movie music, Steiner would reply “Nonsense. The idea originated with Richard Wagner. Listen to the incidental scoring behind the recitatives in his operas. If Wagner had lived in this century, he would have been the Number One film composer.”

Box Set Release Catalogue Number
MONSTER MUSIC - Classic Horror Film Scores Naxos 8.506026
STEINER King Kong • SALTER/SKINNER Monster Music Naxos 8.557949–50

View by Role: Classical Composer | Non-Classical Composer | Conductor
Role: Classical Composer 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
BENNETT, Tony: While We're Young (1950-1955) Naxos Nostalgia
8.120803
Nostalgia
Classics at the Movies: Love Naxos
8.556805
Film and TV Music
CLASSICS GO TO WAR Naxos
8.570154-55
Film and TV Music
FILM THEMES FOR ORGAN (Carter) Delos
FA8102
Film and TV Music
Great Hollywood Epics Naxos International
8.990024
Film and TV Music
Historical Romances Marco Polo
8.223608
Film and TV Music
KORNGOLD: Captain Blood / STEINER: The Three Musketeers Marco Polo
8.223607
Film and TV Music
KORNGOLD: Captain Blood / STEINER: The Three Musketeers / YOUNG: Scaramouche Naxos
8.557704
Film and TV Music
Melodies Of Love Naxos International
8.990021
Film and TV Music
NORTH, A.: Streetcar Named Desire (A) / STEINER, M.: Since You Went Away / Now, Voyager (Heindorf, Steiner) (1950, 1951) Naxos Classical Archives
9.81126
Film and TV Music
ROMANCE OF THE SILVER SCREEN (The) Naxos
8.578005-06
Film and TV Music
STEINER, M.: Gone with the Wind (Max Steiner Orchestra, Steiner) (1954) Naxos Classical Archives
9.81200
Film and TV Music
STEINER: Adventures of Mark Twain (The) Naxos
6.110087
Film and TV Music
STEINER: Adventures of Mark Twain (The) Naxos
5.110087
Film and TV Music
STEINER: Adventures of Mark Twain (The) Naxos
8.557470
Film and TV Music
STEINER: All This, and Heaven Too / A Stolen Life Marco Polo
8.225218
Film and TV Music
STEINER: All This, and Heaven Too / A Stolen Life Naxos
8.570184
Film and TV Music
STEINER: King Kong Marco Polo
8.223763
Film and TV Music
STEINER: King Kong Naxos
8.557700
Film and TV Music
STEINER: Lost Patrol (The) / Virginia City Marco Polo
8.223870
Film and TV Music
STEINER: Son of Kong (The) / The Most Dangerous Game Naxos
8.570183
Film and TV Music
STEINER: Son of Kong (The) / The Most Dangerous Game Marco Polo
8.225166
Film and TV Music
STEINER: They Died with Their Boots On Marco Polo
8.225079
Film and TV Music
STEINER: Treasure of the Sierra Madre (The) Naxos
8.570185
Film and TV Music
STEINER: Treasure of the Sierra Madre (The) Marco Polo
8.225149
Film and TV Music

Role: Non-Classical Composer 
Album Title  Catalogue No  Work Category 
HISTORY OF ROCK AND ROLL, VOL. 4: 1955 Pop, Part 2 Naxos Rock Legends
9.82508
Pop and Rock

Role: Conductor 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 





 
 
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10:58:43 AM, 1 August 2014
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