Franz Waxman's Biography - Celebrities.Wiki

Franz Waxman's Biography

Franz Waxman (Wachsmann) pursued his dream of a career in music despite his family's misgivings. He worked for several years as a bank teller and paid for piano, harmony and composition lessons with his salary. He later moved to Berlin, where he continued his study and progress as a musician. He was able to support himself by playing and arranging for a popular German jazz band, Weintraub Syncopaters, in the late 1920s. Friedrich Hollaender, who had written some music for the Weintraubs, gave Waxman his first chance to move into movie scoring by hiring him to orchestrate and conduct Hollander's score (an arrangement of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) for the film that launched Marlene Dietrich, The Blue Angel (1930), directed by Josef von Sternberg. During 1932 Waxman, a Jew, joined many other Jews leaving Germany as the Nazi vise closed irrevocably on free society. He continued working with Germanfilm makers in France. Waxman did musical arranging and co-scoring, usually with Allan Gray, for approximately 15 European movies (his first independent score was in 1932). "The Blue Angel" producer Erich Pommer liked Waxman's work and offered him the composing job for Liliom (1934), directed by Fritz Lang in France. Pommer decided to do Music in the Air (1934), a Jerome Kern musical, which meant going to Hollywood. Waxman was asked to come along to do the arranging. Needing no further reason to remain in Europe as the Nazi clouds darkened over it, Waxman began a new chapter in Hollywood film music history. He fortunately had some spare time to study with 'Arnold Schoenberg' after coming to Los Angeles, but he was soon talking to another new arrival, English director James Whale, about scoring Bride of Frankenstein (1935) for Universal. Waxman gave Whale what he wanted--an unusual score to fit the quirky, somewhat over-the-top content of the film (in fact, some of this score was later used in other films). As Waxman worked for Universal through the 1930s, he found himself in assembly-line mode, sometimes sharing scoring credit, and doing a lot of arranging stock music, which was usually used for the studio's many serials. This cranked up Waxman's yearly film output to around 20 or so through 1940. By 1940, however, he was composing original music scores for other studios, beginning with the romantic music for Selznick Studios' Rebecca (1940)--the first Hollywood film for Alfred Hitchcock--and whimsical fare for MGM's The Philadelphia Story (1940). In 1941 he was doing more work for MGM with Honky Tonk (1941) and his second Hitchcock score, Suspicion (1941) from RKO. By 1943 and for the rest of the decade Waxman was usually scoring for Warner Bros., starting with Destination Tokyo (1943) and including music for some of that studio's classics of the period, such as To Have and Have Not (1944) with Humphrey Bogart. Through the decade he was nominated for an Oscar seven times for Best Film Score. Waxman moved on to Paramount through the first half of the 1950s and garnered his two Oscars in back--to-back wins for Sunset Blvd. (1950) and A Place in the Sun (1951). This recognition finally underscored what was at the heart of all of Waxman's music: seriously focused attention on relaying a film's story through the content of the music. He would continue his scoring work for several studios into the 1960s, with three more nominations. Some of his music in the 1950s was recycled from his previous scores, as in the case of his third assignment for Hitchcock, Rear Window (1954) which contained used music. Waxman was also active in contemporary classical music. In 1947 he founded the Los Angeles International Music Festival and, as Music Director and Conductor, brought the premieres of works by world renowned contemporary composers to the Los Angeles cultural scene. Among his own output of such music was his popular "Carmen Fantasy" for violin and orchestra. Waxman also composed for TV's Gunsmoke (1955), The Fugitive (1963), Peyton Place (1964) (he had composed the music for the film the series was based on, Peyton Place (1957)) and others. Waxman died relatively young, but because of his steady output, only fellow emigrant Max Steiner (who was nearly 20 years older and whose output entailed more than 200 arrangements of stock music, rather than original scores) was a more prolific early Hollywood composer.

Sources:
IMDB, Wikipedia


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