FRANZ WAXMAN (1906 - 1967)
Born on Christmas Eve 1906, Franz Waxman [born Wachsmann], was the only child in the family to show an interest in music. Though obviously gifted, his father insisted that he obtain a stable occupation, music not considered as such. He took a banking job, and saved all he could so that he could pay for a musical education. He succeeded in this objective, studying in Dresden and Berlin, while supporting himself as a jazz and nightclub pianist. It was in the latter world that he came into contact with people working in the film industry, and he later found employment as both orchestrator and conductor.
The young composer settled in Los Angeles, USA, changed his name to Waxman, and soon made his career in Hollywood with a series of film scores. His scores were an instant success, and he was soon high in demand as a composer of film music. Much of his output was linked with horror movies, ranging from The Bride of Frankenstein, Captain Courageous to music for Daphne du Maurier's romantic novel Rebecca. Nominations for Oscars, and countless highly acclaimed scores in the 1940’s made him one of the most famous film composers of all time.
Although he composed a number of concert works both before and after his emigration to the United States, Franz Waxman remains best known (as does his older Austrian contemporary Erich Korngold) for the numerous scores that made him a mainstay of the Hollywood film scene over three decades. Of several works written for violin and orchestra, the most virtuosic is his Carmen Fantasia, but the one that most reveals his understanding of and affection for Austro-German Romanticism is the Tristan and Isolde Fantasia.