US film composer. His long career began with Citizen Kane (1941); besides Orson Welles, he collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock (North by Northwest, 1959, and Psycho, 1960), François Truffaut (Fahrenheit 451, 1966), and Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, 1976). He wrote his best scores for thrillers and mystery movies, and was a major influence in the establishment of a distinctively American musical imagery.
Born in New York, he won a composition prize at the age of 13 and began studying with Phillip James at New York University and later at the Juilliard Graduate School of Music. He joined CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System) in 1933 as a composer and conductor of music for drama and documentary programmes, and worked with Orson Welles on a number of radio projects before making his film debut. An eclectic stylist, he made his own orchestrations and sought out many new and exotic instruments for special effects and authentic colour.
WorksOperaWuthering Heights (1948–50; produced Portland, Oregon, 1982).
CantatasMoby Dick (1937), Johnny Appleseed (1940).
Orchestral and chamber symphonic poem City of Brass, Fiddle Concerto, symphony; string quartet.
Film scores including Citizen Kane (1941), Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963), and Taxi Driver (1976).
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