Congratulations to SCL Member FRED STEINER

CONGRATULATIONS TO SCL MEMBER FRED STEINER who will be receiving an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Oberlin Conservatory of Music (Class of '43) on May 28th, 2007.

Fred Steiner ’43 is one of a handful of composers whose work permeates modern American culture to such an extent that his songs’ familiarity often overshadow his brilliant accomplishments. Since graduating from Oberlin’s Conservatory of Music with a bachelor’s degree in composition, Steiner has written and conducted music for radio, film, and television, including soundtracks for the original television series Star Trek and Twilight Zone and the film The Color Purple.

Born in New York City in 1923, Steiner began studying of piano at age six, took up violoncello at 13, and graduated from high school at 16. He enrolled at Oberlin and studied composition with Normand Lockwood. Almost immediately after graduation, Steiner began arranging and composing for coast-to-coast radio broadcasts. In 1945 he became musical director of the weekly ABC radio program, The Is Your FBI. He moved to Hollywood in the late 1940s, where CBS television tapped him as a composer for nearly all of its live shows, and then for many television film programs.

Steiner stayed on with CBS for 11 years, moving to Mexico City in 1958, where he directed an independent recording company. Among other projects during this time, he composed and conducted scores for several Mexican government documentaries.

In 1960, he returned to California and the booming entertainment industry. Through the mid-1990s, he generated a prolific catalog of work for such television shows as Andy Griffith, Blood Feud, Dynasty, Gunsmoke, Hawaii Five-O, Hogan’s Heroes, Rawhide, Tiny Toons, and The Untouchables. Steiner also composed film scores for Time Limit, The Man from Del Rio,Prizzi’s Honor, and Dustin Hoffman’s revival of Death of a Salesman. In 1986, he was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on the much-honored film, The Color Purple.

Steiner’s compositions for the concert hall include a string quartet, woodwind quintet, Tower Music for Brass and Percussion, Pezzo Italiano (cello and piano), Five Pieces for String Trio, and Navy Log March (symphonic band). He has conducted symphony, chamber orchestra, and band concerts, and has recorded for the Entr’acte and Varese-Sarabande labels.

In 1981, Steiner earned a doctorate in musicology at the University of Southern California. His articles on movie and television music have appeared in Film Music Quarterly, The Cue Sheet, and the Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress. His essay on Bernard Herrmann’s music for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (Film Music Notebook, 1974) is the first known musicological analysis of a film score. Steiner has also lectured at colleges and universities across the country. In 1985, the University of Southern California School of Music appointed him a lecturer in film music history as well as an instructor in composition and orchestration. He is one of the founding members of the Film Music Society, serving on its board since its inception in 1982.

Given the amount and variety of his musical contributions to American television and film production, it is likely that not a day goes by without Fred Steiner music being heard by audiences somewhere in the world.

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