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Opera and lyrical music
Sheet music for David Raksin
Piano, voice and guitar (chords only) - Interactive Download
This edition: Interactive Download. Jazz; Standards. Piano/Vocal/Guitar (chords only). 3 pages. Published by Hal Leonard - Digital Sheet Music (HX.6744).
Piano - Interactive Download
This edition: Interactive Download. Educational piano. Standards. 3 pages. Published by Hal Leonard - Digital Sheet Music (HX.257062).
Jazz Ensemble - Grade 4
Composed by David Raksin and Johnny Mercer. Jazz Ensemble; Performance Music Ensemble; Single Titles. Essentially Ellington: Jazz at Lincoln Center Library. Jazz. Score. 16 pages. Alfred Music #00-44944S. Published by Alfred Music (AP.44944S).
Easy piano - Interactive Download
This edition: Interactive Download. Jazz; Standards. 3 pages. Published by Hal Leonard - Digital Sheet Music (HX.270512).
By David Raksin. This edition: Interactive Download. Film/TV, Pop. Piano Solo. 2 pages. Published by Hal Leonard - Digital Sheet Music (HX.35905).
Guitar Solo - Digital Download
Standards. Guitar Solo. 2 pages. Published by Hal Leonard - Digital Sheet Music (HX.380841).
A lot of Film Music - including the famous "Laura".
David Raksin, who has died aged 92, was the senior figure in the world of film composing; having begun his career in 1935 arranging the music for Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times, he went on to write scores for more than 400 films and television shows, most notably that for Laura (1944).
Otto Preminger’s early film noir, which starred Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney and Vincent Price, tells of a detective who begins to fall in love with the girl whose murder he is investigating. Raksin watched an early cut with Preminger, who said that he was thinking of using Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Lady as a recurring motif each time the character of Laura appeared.
Whereas the studio viewed the picture as a thriller, Raksin thought it a love story, and told Preminger it was the wrong tune for the film. The director gave him a weekend to come up with a better one.
When Raksin returned home, he found a letter waiting for him from his wife Pamela, who was a dancer then working on Broadway. Tired, and with his head full of the task in front of him, he cast it to one side, unread.
On the Sunday evening, having failed to write a single note he liked, he picked up the letter again and realised that his wife was telling him she was leaving him. Almost at once, he found himself sitting down at the piano and playing what would become the haunting theme to the film.
Raksin later reworked it to allow Johnny Mercer to add lyrics, and Laura has since become one of the most-recorded songs of all time, with Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald among those who have released versions.
The original melody brought Raksin thousands of fan letters - praise almost unknown for a film composer - while Cole Porter once said it was the tune he would have most liked to have written. Hedy Lamarr was among those who had turned down the part taken by Gene Tierney. When asked why she had done so, she replied: "They sent me the script, not the score."
Successful as Raksin became, in common with many of his colleagues in the film world his career was brought close to ruin in the early 1950s when he was obliged to appear in front of the House committee on un-American activities to explain his membership of the Communist Party in the years before the Second World War.
With a young family to support, and a contract with MGM to retain, Raksin bowed to the pressure and named 11 other Party members, although he took care to choose only those who were dead or already known to the commission. Afterwards, he was not proud of his behaviour, but believed it to be all that he could have done in the circumstances.
David Raksin was born in Philadelphia on August 4 1912. His father ran a music shop, but in his spare time he conducted cinema orchestras and occasionally played woodwind instruments with the city’s symphony orchestra.
Young David began studying the piano at six, later took up the saxophone and at 12 had his own radio dance band. He taught himself orchestration while at high school, and paid his way through the University of Pennsylvania by performing as a musician.
Raksin then moved to New York, where he worked as a singer and conductor. His arrangement of Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm for the pianist Oscar Levant so impressed the composer that he recommended him to the firm of Hamms/Chappell, who then did most of the arranging work for Broadway musicals.
At 23, he was invited to Hollywood to collaborate with Chaplin. As well as writing, producing and directing his films, the versatile star also used to compose their soundtracks, though since he could not write music he needed an arranger to transcribe his ideas into scores.
Working with Raksin, Chaplin hummed, whistled and slowly tapped out on a piano his suggestions, such as the three-note blast of the factory, which the younger man then worked up into the full-length music for Modern Times, perhaps the last of the great silent films.
In 1936 he joined the composing staff at Universal, headed by Charles Previn (kinsman of Andre), where he regularly had to write scores for films in a matter of days. He then moved on to become assistant to the conductor Leopold Stokowski.
Another assignment was a collaboration with Igor Stravinsky, whose Circus Polka he arranged for the celebrated elephant ballet that was staged by Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey and choreographed by Balanchine. At the dress rehearsal, the troupe stampeded on hearing Raksin’s work, which he and Stravinsky took to be a sign that they liked it.
From the late Thirties onwards, Raksin became a prolific writer of soundtracks for films that included Hollywood Cavalcade and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (both 1939), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), with Danny Kaye, The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) - Raksin’s own favourite score - Father of the Bride (1960), Two Weeks In Another Town (1962), The Patsy (1964) and the Charlton Heston Western Will Penny (1968).
He was twice nominated for Oscars, for Forever Amber (1947), Preminger’s adaptation of Kathleen Winsor’s Restoration romp, and for Separate Tables (1958), which brought David Niven his only Oscar.
Although his skills were in demand, Raksin felt himself somewhat pigeon-holed as a composer of dramatic themes after Laura - the popular success of which he never repeated - and by the late 1960s, when he was being offered mainly horror films, began to diversify into television. His work for that medium included The Day After (1983), the controversial film about the aftermath of nuclear war.
For many years, Raksin taught composition at the University of Southern California, and from 1962 until 1970 he was president of the Composers’ and Lyricists’ Guild of America. He also wrote orchestral music, music for ballets and the stage, and three musicals, including The Wind in the Willows.
Raksin also taught film composition at the University of Southern California from 1958 to 2003, and hosted "The Subject Is Film Music" radio show on NPR. A former president of the Composers &am;p Lyricist Guild of America, he was the first film composer invited to establish a collection of his manuscripts in the music division of the Library of Congress. In 1992, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers awarded Raksin the Golden Soundtrack Award for a lifetime of achievement in film and television music.
He was the first film composer invited to lodge his manuscripts with the Library of Congress, and was also active as a historian of, and broadcaster on, film music. The British Film Institute showed a retrospective of his work in 1976. He died on August 9.
David Raksin was twice married and divorced, and is survived by a son and a daughter.