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Elmer Bernstein Biography

Home > Music > B > Bernstein, Elmer > Biography

Born: 1922/04/04
Birth Place: New York City, New York, U.S.
Died: 2004/08/18
Years Active: 1951–2004
Genres: Film Scores

Elmer Bernstein was born on April 4, 1922 in New York city and died of cancer in his sleep on August 18, 2004 in his home in California. He was an American composer and conductor best known for his many film scores. His career spanned fifty years, and he composed the musical score for more than 200 films, television productions and Broadway musicals. His most popular works include the scores to The Magnificent Seven, The Ten Commandments, The Great Escape, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Ghostbusters.

As a child Bernstein developed a love for theatre and the arts, he performed professionally as a dancer and an actor and won awards for his paintings. Bernstein's love of music dominated his passion and blossomed at the age of twelve when he took up the piano under the instruction of a Juilliard teacher. During WWII Bernstein was assigned as a pianist to entertain the troops and shortly thereafter got a break when he was asked to write a score for a United Nation radio program. From there Bernstien was offered the job to compose for a NBC network program. Slowly Bernstein crossed over into film and began to work for MGM and 20th century fox.

During his career Bernstein won an Academy Award, an Emmy Award, and two Golden Globe Awards. He received fourteen Academy Award nominations and won the Oscar for 'Best Original Music Score' for the film “Thoroughly Modern Millie” (1967). In 1963 Bernstein won the Emmy for Excellence in Television for his score of the documentary “The Making of The President” (1960).

Bernstein's work has undoubtedly left it's mark on American culture, one that will linger throughout time. Additional honors for Bernstein include Lifetime achievement awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and American Society of Composers, and in 1996 Bernstein was honored with a star on Hollywood Boulevard.