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Elmer Bernstein

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New York City, NY, United States (1952 – 2004)

Elmer Bernstein (pronounced “BERN-steen”, IPA: [ˈbɜːɹnstiːn]) (April 4, 1922 – August 18, 2004) was an Academy and two-time Golden Globe award winning American film score composer.

Bernstein was born in New York City, NY, United States. During his childhood he performed professionally as a dancer and an actor and won several prizes for his painting. He gravitated toward music by his own choice at the age of twelve, at which time he was given a scholarship in piano by Henriette Michelson, a Juilliard teacher who guided him throughout his entire career as a pianist. She took him to play some of his improvisations for composer Aaron Copland. Copland was encouraging and selected Israel Citkowitz as a teacher for the young boy. Bernstein’s music has some stylistic similarities to Copland’s music, most notably in his western scores and in his spirited score for the 1958 film adaptation of Erskine Caldwell’s novel, God’s Little Acre.

He wrote the theme songs or other music for more than 200 films and TV shows, including The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, The Ten Commandments (1956), The Man with the Golden Arm, To Kill a Mockingbird, Robot Monster, Ghostbusters and the fanfare used in the National Geographic television specials. His theme for The Magnificent Seven is also familiar to television viewers, as it was used in commercials for Marlboro cigarettes. Bernstein also provided the score to many of the short films of Ray and Charles Eames.

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