Rózsa, Miklós, 1907-1995

Alternative names
Birth 1907-04-18
Death 1995-07-27

Biographical notes:

Originally composed for piano, 1946. Transcribed 1958. First performance Vienna, 1958, State Orchestra of Vienna, the composer conducting.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Kaleidoscope : six short pieces for small orchestra, op. 19a / by Miklós Rózsa. [19--] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 53893399

Hungarian-born musician/composer Miklós Rózsa (April 18, 1907-July 23, 1995) studied in Leipzig under Hermann Grabner and Theodor Kroyer. He composed his first orchestral work in 1929, then moved to Paris two years later to further his education. In London from 1935, Rózsa went to work for movie mogul and fellow Hungarian expatriate, Alexander Korda. His first film score was written for Korda's Knight without armour (1937). Moving with Korda to Hollywood, Rózsa soon composed music for the popular, That Hamilton woman (1941). During the 1940s, Rózsa was a prime contributor to the film noir genre. One of his most effective scores was for the stylish murder melodrama A double life (1948), which became the title for his autobiography in 1982. Nominated for 16 Academy awards, Rózsa won the prize for A double life, Spellbound (1945), and the 1959 version of Ben-Hur. Rózsa's final film work was the score for the Steve Martin private-eye spoof Dead men don't wear plaid (1982).

From the description of Ben Hur score collection, 1959-1960. (University of California, Los Angeles). WorldCat record id: 320044455

Hungarian composer.

From the description of [Concerto, violin, op. 24. Album leaf]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270919881

Born on January 10, 1910 in Lyon, the French conductor and composer, Jean Martinon entered the Lyon and Paris conservatoires to study the violin. At Lyon, his teacher was Maurice Foundray and at the Paris Conservatory, he studied violin technique with Jules Boucherit. While at the Paris conservatory, Martinon took composition with Albert Roussel and Vincent d’Indy. After completing the composition courses, he studied conducting with Charles Munch and Désormière. He graduated from the Paris Conservatory in 1928, winning a premier prix.

Martinon’s familiarity with conducting started in France, followed by various appointments in Europe, the Middle East, and the United States. In 1946, he embarked on a conducting career directing the Concerts du Conservatoire in Paris and the Bordeaux Symphony. The successful debut with the LPO led to his appointment as associate conductor of the orchestra in 1947. From 1947-1950 Martinon directed the Radio Eireann orchestra, Dublin and in 1951, he returned to Paris to conduct the Concerts Lamoureux until 1957. From 1957-1959, Martinon conducted the Israel Philharmonic. His appointment as the next conductor of the Düsseldorf Symphony occurred in 1959. Martinon was in Düsseldorf until 1963 when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra selected him as their music director, a position he held until 1968. During that same year, he returned to France to direct the French National Radio Orchestra and served as the principal conductor of the Hague Residentie–Orkest from 1974 until shortly before his death in 1976.

Martinon’s extensive experience as a composer led to his approach to conducting. The Symphoniette pour orchestre á cordes, piano, harpe et timbales, op. 16, from 1935, is one of three first attempts at composition. After enlisting in the war, Martinon’s imprisonment in a German camp, Stalag IX A, resulted in several new compositions, Psaume 136, le Chant des Captifs, Musique d’Exil, Sonatina No.3, Sonatina No. 4 for wind instruments, and various choral works. In 1946, the city of Paris awarded a prize to his composition le Chant des Captifs. After the war, other notable compositions include Symphonie no. 3 (Irlandaise), the Concerto no. 2 pour violin et orchestre, op. 5, dedicated to Szeryng, and the Concerto pour cello et orchestre, op. 52, composed for Pierre Fournier. For the stage Martinon composed two works, the ballet Ambohimanga ou la Cité Bleue and in 1949 the opera Hécube with a libretto by Serge Moreux. Symphony no.4 Altitudes was the outcome of a commission from the Chicago Symphony to commemorate its 75th anniversary.

Martinon had recently taken on a position at the Paris Conservatory to teach conducting when he died from a serious illness on March 1, 1976.

From the guide to the Jean Martinon papers, 1923-1994, (Music Library)

Miklós Rózsa (1907-1995) was born on April 18, 1907, in Budapest, Hungary. He developed an appreciation for music from his mother, a classical pianist, and his father, an industrialist and lover of folk music. Rózsa began to study the violin at the age of five. Within two years, he had composed a "Student March." Living on the estate of his father, who had extensive landholdings in Nagylocz, Nograd County, northern Hungary, Rózsa often heard the folk songs of the indigenous Paloc people, whose melodies would later influence his compositions.

After Rózsa completed high school in 1925, at age eighteen, he matriculated at the Leipzig Conservatory, Germany, where he studied music and chemistry. By the time Rózsa graduated in 1929, Breitkopf and Härtel had already published his String Trio, op. 1 (1927), and Quintet for Piano and Strings, op. 2 (1928). His next compositions were influenced by Hungarian folk tunes, due in part to a journal he recovered that contained the notations he had written upon hearing the music in his youth.

The composer remained in Leipzig until the rise of Nazism prompted him to leave Germany. In 1931 he arrived in Paris, France, where he was relatively unknown. Though Rózsa’s years in Paris produced several compositions, including Theme, Variations, and Finale, op. 13 (1933), Rózsa struggled to support himself. In 1935 Rózsa moved to London to score the music for Thunder in the City (1937), a film for Hungarian writer Akos Tolnay. Rózsa also had the fortune of working for Alexander Korda of London Films to compose the music for Knight Without Armour (1937). Rózsa worked with the Kordas on many later projects, including The Four Feathers (1939), The Thief of Bagdad (1940), and Jungle Book (1942).

Rózsa continued to compose orchestral, chamber, and choral works. He received Budapest’s Franz Josef Prize for Composition in 1937 and 1938. His Three Hungarian Sketches, op. 14 (1938), was performed in Baden-Baden, Germany at the International Music Festival with great success in 1939.

Rózsa moved to Los Angeles, California in 1940. In August 1943 he married Margaret Finlason, a former actress and secretary to Gracie Fields; the pair had met during Rózsa’s film work at Denham Studios, London. At that time, Rózsa also began his long collaboration with writer and director Billy Wilder. His scores for Wilder include Five Graves to Cairo (1943), Double Indemnity (1944), The Lost Weekend (1945), and Fedora (1978). Rózsa’s work on Double Indemnity caught the attention of Alfred Hitchcock, who engaged him for work on Spellbound (1945), which earned Rózsa his first Academy Award.

In 1945 Rózsa joined the faculty of the University of Southern California as Professor of Film Music, a position he held for twenty years. In 1946 he became a United States citizen. The late 1940s saw his film work for producer Mark Hellinger on three gangster films, The Killers (1946), Brute Force (1947), and The Naked City (1948). Rózsa’s music from The Killers later inspired Walter Schumann’s famous four-note "Dragnet" theme, which is now credited to both men following litigation. Rózsa won a second Academy Award for his score of A Double Life (1948). The next year, he signed a contract with Metro Goldwyn Mayer, an agreement that resulted in a decade-long golden era whose pinnacle was Ben-Hur (1959), which earned Rózsa his third and final Oscar.

Rózsa’s many orchestral, chamber, and choral compositions include "To Everything There Is A Season," op. 21 (1946); Sinfonia Concertante, op. 29 (1964), written for Jascha Heifetz and Gregor Piatigorsky; Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, op. 31 (1967), written for Leonard Pennario; Tripartita, op. 33 (1972), which Rózsa wrote from his summer home in Santa Margherita, Italy; and Toccata Capricciosa for Solo Cello, op. 36 (1977).

In addition to his composition work, Rózsa conducted worldwide concert performances and recordings; maintained a collection of fine art; penned his autobiography, Double Life: The Autobiography of Miklós Rózsa (1982); and cared for his children, Juliet and Nicholas. Rózsa composed film music until 1982, when he had his first stroke. He continued to work until further strokes impaired his vision and speech. Rózsa died of pneumonia on July 27, 1995 at eighty-eight years old.

From the guide to the Miklos Rozsa Papers, 1918-1996, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)


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