Walker, Don, 1907-1989

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Biographical Note

  • 1907, Oct. 28: Born Donald John Walker in Lambertville, New Jersey, only child of Thomas J. Walker and Blanche S. Walker (nee Basford)
  • circa 1920 - circa 1929 : Studied piano and pipe organ Organist, St. Andrews Episcopal Church Studied flute, clarinet, and tenor saxophone Started local dance band
  • 1922, June 7: Graduated, Lambertville High School Salutarian of class
  • circa 1922 - circa 1928 : Played tenor sax in Don Walker’s Interfraternity Five Played solo clarinet in University of Pennsylvania marching band
  • 1926: B.C.S. and B.S., Accountancy, Rider College of Business, Trenton, N.J.
  • 1928: Member, honorary scholastic fraternity, Beta Gamma Sigma
  • 1929: B.S., Economics, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • 1929 - 1932 : Arranger and assistant conductor of recordings (Victor), Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians
  • 1931, Mar. 14: Married Audrey Langrill Simpson of Moore Park, Toronto, Canada (died 2003)
  • 1932, Mar. 8: Daughter Ann Audrey Walker born
  • 1932 - 1933 : Composer, arranger and conductor, Mask and Wig Productions, University of Pennsylvania Productions included Ruffneck and Out of the Blues
  • 1933, Sept. 3: Son David Ellsworth Walker born
  • 1933 - 1935 : Head arranger, Al Goodman Orchestra (for radio shows Lucky Strike Program, Good Gulf Program and others)
  • 1934: Co-orchestrator, Life Begins at 8:40 Co-orchestrated and composed two numbers, Caviar
  • 1935: Co-orchestrator, At Home Abroad Co-orchestrator, May Wine
  • 1935 - 1942 : Head arranger for Frank Black at NBC
  • 1935 - 1952 : Staff arranger, Harms (sold to Chappell and Co.) Worked with Robert Russell Bennett, Hans Spialek, Conrad Salinger, Ted Royal
  • 1936: Co-orchestrator, Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 Orchestrator, Forbidden Melody
  • 1936 - 1951 : Head arranger for Sigmund Romberg (for radio programs, operettas, concert tours, albums)
  • 1937: Orchestrator, Hooray for What! Co-orchestrator, Three Waltzes
  • 1938: Additional orchestrations, You Never Know Orchestrator, Leave it to Me!
  • 1939: Musical director, conductor, arranger, Nice Goin’ Orchestrator, Stars in Your Eyes Co-orchestrator, George White’s Scandals
  • 1940: Orchestrator, Two for the Show Co-orchestrator, Keep Off the Grass Co-orchestrator, Boys and Girls Together Orchestrator, Panama Hattie Orchestrator, Hold on to Your Hats Co-orchestrator, Hi Ya, Gentlemen Co-orchestrator, Walk with Music
  • 1941: Orchestrator, Let’s Face It! Orchestrator, Best Foot Forward
  • 1942: Co-orchestrator, Count Me In Orchestrator, By Jupiter
  • 1943: Conductor and arranger, CBS radio program Only Yesterday Orchestrator, Something for the Boys
  • 1944: Joined ASCAP Co-composer and orchestrator, Allah Be Praised! Co-orchestrator, On the Town
  • 1945: Co-orchestrator, Carousel Composer, adaptor, co-orchestrator, Memphis Bound!
  • 1946: Composer, Fabulous Doll
  • 1947: Co-orchestrator, Finian’s Rainbow
  • 1948: Co-orchestrator, Kiss Me Kate Co-orchestrator, Heaven on Earth Co-orchestrator, That’s the Ticket Some orchestrations, Inside U.S.A.
  • 1948 - 1973 : Founder, vice-president, president, Bucks County Playhouse, New Hope, Pennsylvania Composer and arranger, various productions of The Bucks County Revue Vice-president and director, Playhouse Inn
  • 1949: Some orchestrations for, Miss Liberty; Touch and Go; Gentlemen Prefer Blondes; South Pacific Orchestrator, NBC television series The Admiral Broadway Revue
  • 1950: Co-orchestrator, Great to Be Alive! Orchestrator, Call Me Madam Orchestrator, Bless You All
  • 1951: Composed and orchestrated, Courtin’ Time Some orchestrations, The King and I
  • 1952: Special orchestrations, Pal Joey (revival) Co-orchestrator, Of Thee I Sing (revival)
  • 1953: Arranger and orchestrator, Wonderful Town Arranger and orchestrator, Me and Juliet Arranger and orchestrator, Agnes de Mille Dance Theatre
  • 1954: Orchestrator, The Girl in Pink Tights Orchestrator, The Pajama Game Orchestrator, On Your Toes (revival)
  • 1955: Orchestrator, Silk Stockings Orchestrator, Damn Yankees Co-orchestrator, Finian’s Rainbow (revival) Additional orchestrations, Catch a Star!
  • 1956: Orchestrator, The Most Happy Fella Additional orchestrations, Happy Hunting
  • 1957: Musical director and arranger, Your Hit Parade, NBC television show Orchestrator, The Music Man Composed and scored, Mistress of the Inn, Bucks County Playhouse (continued to work on the show through revised version, The Inn People (1972))
  • 1957 - 1959 : Lecturer, “Music Heard-Music Written,” Hunter College School of Adult Education
  • 1958: Composed and orchestrated incidental music, Comic Strip Orchestrated, The Gift of the Magi (television musical) Musical supervisor and orchestrator, The Red Mill (television musical) Worked on novel The Bucket of Blood
  • 1959: Orchestrator, First Impressions
  • 1960: Orchestrator, Greenwillow Co-orchestrator, Finian’s Rainbow (revival) Orchestrator, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
  • 1961: Orchestrator, The Gay Life
  • 1962: Composed and orchestrated incidental music, The Beauty Part
  • 1963: Orchestrator, She Loves Me Orchestrator, Here’s Love
  • 1964: Orchestrator, What Makes Sammy Run Orchestrator, Anyone Can Whistle Orchestrator, Fiddler on the Roof
  • 1965: Orchestrator, Baker Street Orchestrator, Flora, the Red Menace Orchestrator, Anya Scored A Thousand Clowns (film) Academy Award nominee for Scoring of Music–Adaption or Treatment, A Thousand Clowns
  • 1966: Orchestrator, Cabaret
  • 1967: Orchestrator, Hellzapoppin ‘67
  • 1968: Orchestrator, The Happy Time Orchestrator, Zorba
  • 1969: Co-composer and orchestrator, The Appointment (film) Co-composed incidental music, Angela
  • 1970: Orchestrator, The Rothschilds
  • 1971: Orchestrator, 70, girls, 70
  • 1973: Orchestrator, Pajama Game (revival) Began project for Music Theatre International to adapt Italian and French operas for performance by American high schools and colleges
  • 1974: Co-orchestrator, Lorelei Orchestrator, Shenandoah, at Goodspeed Opera House
  • 1975: Orchestrator, Shenandoah Co-orchestrator, Jeeves Orchestrator, Hans Christian Andersen
  • 1976: Orchestrator, The Baker’s Wife Orchestrator, Fiddler on the Roof (revival)
  • 1978: Orchestrator, Angel
  • 1978 - 1980 : Adapted score, Ragtime Blues
  • 1979: Orchestrator, The Most Happy Fella (revival)
  • 1980: Orchestrator, The Music Man (revival) Orchestrator, The Barber of Guadalajara, adaption of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville in mariachi style
  • 1981: Orchestrator, Fiddler on the Roof (revival)
  • 1982: Orchestrator, The Little Prince and the Aviator Composed film score for Freedom
  • 1982 - 1983 : Worked on novel 6-Piece Quintet
  • 1983: Orchestrator, Zorba (revival)
  • 1984: Worked on memoir Men of Notes
  • 1987: Orchestrator, Cabaret (revival)
  • 1989, Sept. 13: Died, Mercer Medical Center, Trenton, New Jersey

From the guide to the Don Walker Collection, 1932-1984, (Music Division Library of Congress)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Don Walker Collection, 1932-1984 Library of Congress. Music Division
referencedIn The unsinkable Molly Brown / [music and lyrics by Meredith Willson], 1960 The New York Public Library. Music Division.
creatorOf Willson, Meredith, 1902-1984. The unsinkable Molly Brown / [music and lyrics by Meredith Willson]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Willson, Meredith, 1902-1984. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Arrangers (Musicians)
Instrumentation and orchestration
Motion picture music
Popular music
Television music


Birth 1907-10-28

Death 1989-09-13


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