Elmer Bernstein, Film Composer
An Authorized Biography
by Peter M. Bernstein
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Pub Date 15 Nov 2023 | Archive Date 15 Nov 2023
Rowman & Littlefield, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Over a career spanning 54 years, he composed landmark scores in every available genre—epics, jazz, westerns, dramas, and comedies—and his credits read like list of the greatest films of his time: The Ten Commandments, The Magnificent Seven, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Man With the Golden Arm, The Great Escape, Ghostbusters, to name just a few. This biography, written by Elmer’s son Peter, interweaves exclusive interviews, oral histories not otherwise available, estate archival materials, and personal experiences.
Elmer Bernstein lived a colorful life: he was a first generation American; he was blacklisted; and he was a fearless advocate for film music not afraid to take on anyone in pages of trade papers. The book looks at many of his landmark scores in depth, collaborations with various producers and directors, and his success in navigating the rough and tumble of Hollywood. There is much to his story: a cycle of struggle, success, frustration, failure, and reinvention repeated many times over his career which connected the Old Hollywood with the modern era.
Peter M. Bernstein is an American composer and conductor. He has composed scores for over 500 feature films, miniseries, long-form television, and episodes. His first breakthrough project was The Ewok Adventure for LucasFilm (1985) and its sequel Ewoks: The Battle For Endor (1986). Soon after came his first T.V. series, 21 Jump Street (1987-1991). His orchestration credits include Animal House, Trading Places and Ghostbusters, as well as the scored portions of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. He is the son of Elmer Bernstein.
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