9 May 1911
Newark, Essex County, New Jersey, United States
22 February 2005 (aged 93)
Harry Moses Simeone (May 9, 1911, Newark, New Jersey - February 22, 2005, New York City, United States) was a distinguished music arranger, conductor and composer, best known for arranging the famous Christmas song "The Little Drummer Boy", for which he received co-writing credit.
Initiated by his childhood passion for the Metropolitan Opera, Simeone sought a career as a concert pianist and eventually attended the Juilliard School of Music for three years before leaving to begin work at CBS as an arranger for bandleader Fred Waring. After garnering vocal and music arrangement credits for the 1938 RKO motion picture Radio City Revels, Simeone relocated to Hollywood with his wife Margaret McCravy, who was Benny Goodman's first singer using the stage name Margaret McCrae, and later a Fred Waring vocalist. Once there, he had various music production jobs for several Paramount films from 1939 to 1946, including some that starred Bing Crosby. During 1948, Simeone joined NBC's "The Swift Show" as the program's orchestra leader, and during 1952, he joined NBC's The Firestone Hour as conductor and choral arranger.
When 20th Century Fox Records contracted Simeone to make a Christmas album during 1958, he assembled the Harry Simeone Chorale and searched for recording material. After being introduced to an obscure song by friend and credited song co-author Henry Onorati titled "Carol of the Drum", Simeone recorded the tune as "The Little Drummer Boy" for his album Sing We Now of Christmas. He received co-writing credit for the album, although he did not actually compose the song. The "Little Drummer Boy" single quickly became extremely popular and scored on the U.S. music charts from 1958 to 1962. The Simeone Chorale had another Christmas success during 1962, with their rendition of the then-new song "Do You Hear What I Hear?".
In 1960, Simeone joined a revived half-hour version of The Kate Smith Show on CBS television, produced by Smith's long-time manager, Ted Collins. Though the program had good reviews, audience levels lagged at an early evening time, and the show was cancelled after some six months on the air.
A group known as the Harry Simeone Songsters, whose style was similar to that of the Ray Conniff Singers, produced a baseball-oriented song during 1960 called "It's a Beautiful Day for a Ballgame". The song is on one of the Baseball's Greatest Hits CDs and is still played at major league baseball parks.
On May 22, 2000, Harry and Margaret McCravy Simeone officially established the Harry and Margaret Simeone Music Scholarship at Yale University by bestowing a gift of US$1 million.
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