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Alan Menken Biography

Home > Music > M > Menken, Alan > Biography

Born: 1949/07/22
Birth Place: New Rochelle, New York, U.S.
Genres: Cast Recordings/Cabaret, Children's, Pop, Soundtracks

Alan Menken was born July 22, 1949 in New York and is a musical theater and film composer, and pianist. Menken studied piano NYU, and after graduating he landed gigs in local clubs around the city.

1979 marked Menken’s professional start in music with the WPA Theatre production of “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater.” The attention Menken gained from the show lead to composing the music for the Off-Broadway musical, “Little Shop of Horrors.” This earned Menken a Drama Desk Award nomination.

In 1987, a musical adaptation of “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz,” with lyrics by David Spencer, was produced in Philadelphia. In 1992, the WPA Theatre produced Menken's “Weird Romance,” also with lyrics also by Spencer. Menken's 1994 musical based on the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol,” with lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and book by Mike Ockrent, debuted at Madison Square Garden's Paramount Theater. Menken received both Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominations for the music to the stage musical version of “Beauty and the Beast” which opened on Broadway in 1994.

Menken is also known for his work with the Walt Disney Animation Studios, composing music for “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Pocahontas,” all of which generated Academy Awards for the composer. To date, Menken has won eight Academy Awards, four for Best Original Score and four for Best Original Song. He has won the second most Academy Awards in a music category after Alfred Newman’s nine wins. He currently holds the record for most wins for a living person, and was named a Disney Legend in 2001. 2008 saw Menken adapt a musical version of “The Little Mermaid” on Broadway.