Rosenman, Leonard

Alternative names
Birth 1924-09-07
Death 2008-03-04

Biographical notes:

Leonard Rosenman (1924-2008), a native New Yorker, was a student of Arnold Schoenberg and Roger Sessions and Ernest Bloch. In the midst of a promising concert career, and championed by Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland, his roommate, and piano student James Dean, convinced him to compose the score for Elia Kazan's East of Eden (1954). The next year he followed that success with the first 12-tone score for a major motion picture, The Cobweb (1955), and James Dean's next film, Rebel Without A Cause (1955). Representing Hollywood's "second generation" of film composers, Rosenman disengaged from the lush Romantic orchestrations of his predecessors, Max Steiner and Erich Korngold. His avant-garde style embraced the aesthetics of Berg and Schoenberg - well suited to the gritty films, which soon followed - Edge of the City (1957) and the documentary-style The Savage Eye (1960); which he adapted from his twelve-tone Chamber Music #1. Rosenman founded, and co-conducted with William Kraft, his own chamber group in Los Angeles during the 1960’s. His Chamber Music I, a symphony for fifteen players, was premiered at the prestigious Monday Evening Concerts in 1960. Generally credited with bringing modern-music sensibility to commercial film, he experimented and broke new ground throughout his scoring career: notably with musical silence, tone colors and atonal textures in Fantastic Voyage (1966); adapting Sioux Indian source music for A Man Called Horse (1970); and creating a bizarre Mass for Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970).

Rosenman won two Oscars for Barry Lyndon (1975) and Bound for Glory (1976) and two Emmys for Sybil (1976) and Friendly Fire (1979). Other television scores include: The Defenders (1961), Combat! (1962) and Marcus Welby, M.D. (1969). He was Oscar-nominated for Cross Creek (1983) and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

From the guide to the Leonard Rosenman Papers, ca. 1949 - 1990, (© 2009 Fales Library and Special Collections)


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  • Conductors (Music)
  • Rebel without a cause (Motion picture)
  • Composers--United States--20th century
  • Motion picture music--United States


  • Composers


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