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Alex North

Alex North

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Also Known As: Died: September 8, 1991
Born: December 4, 1910 Cause of Death: pancreatic cancer
Birth Place: Chester, Pennsylvania, USA Profession: composer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Composer of ballets, symphonies and stage music whose work on Elia Kazan's Broadway production of "Death of a Salesman" moved the director to bring him to Hollywood to compose the score for "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951). Lyrical and jazz-influenced, the score earned North the first of 15 Oscar nominations (he never won) and introduced the sparer, more economic style of orchestration that eventually displaced the lusher scores of the 1930s and 40s.

Composer of ballets, symphonies and stage music whose work on Elia Kazan's Broadway production of "Death of a Salesman" moved the director to bring him to Hollywood to compose the score for "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951). Lyrical and jazz-influenced, the score earned North the first of 15 Oscar nominations (he never won) and introduced the sparer, more economic style of orchestration that eventually displaced the lusher scores of the 1930s and 40s.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Wrote scores for the Federal Theater project and conducted concerts in Mexico in the late-1930s
:
Scored documentary films including "China Strikes Back" (1936), "Heart of Spain" and "The People of the Cumberland" (both 1937), the latter (a short about Pennsylvania miners) was his first collaboration with Elia Kazan
:
Served in US Army during WWII; created musical programs for hospitals and composed music for the Office of War Information documentaries including "A Better Tomorrow" (1945)
1948:
Wrote music for Broadway stage production of Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman"
1951:
Went to Hollywood to score first film for Elia Kazan, "A Streetcar Named Desire"
1955:
Continued writing documentary, dance and theater scores in New York until his moved to Hollywood
1985:
Wrote score for Volker Schlondorff's TV film of Dustin Hoffman's "Death of a Salesman"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Curtis Institute of Music: Philadelphia , Pennsylvania - 1928 - 1929
The Juilliard School: New York , New York - 1932 - 1934
Moscow Conservatory of Music: - 1933 - 1935

Notes

North, art director Roland Anderson and sound technician Kevin O'Connell all hold the dubious distinction of being the individuals who received the most Academy Award nominations, 15, without winning. In 1985, North was awarded an honorary Oscar.

"My big influence in life was probably Duke Ellington, in terms of the way he used jazz. I was also inspired by the late Russian and French composers--Prokofiev, Ravel, Debussy." --Alex North in 1986 interview, quoted in his The New York Times obituary, September 11, 1991.

North composed ballets for Martha Graham, Agnes de Mille and Anna Sokolow including "American Lyric" (1937), "Daddy Long Legs", "Mal de siecle", and "Wall Street Ballet". He wrote the opera "Hither and Thither of Danny Dither" and the "Rhapsody for piano and orchestra" (1941). His "Revue for Clarinet and Orchestra", commissioned by Benny Goodman, premiered by Goodman and Leonard Bernstein with the New York City Symphony in 1946. North wrote three symphonies (in 1947, 1968, and 1971), three symphonic suites from film scores, "Holiday Set" (1948) and cantatas for chorus and orchestra ("Morning Star" 1947, based on the Nuremberg Trials and "Negro Mother" 1948 in collaboration with Langston Hughes).

Received a Guggenheim Fellowship (1947 and 1948)

Given the 1975-76 Heritage Wrangler Award for "Bite the Bullet" (1975).

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Annemarie Hollger. Married on March 27, 1940.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Jesse North. Blacksmith.
mother:
Bela North.
brother:
Abe North.
brother:
Harry North.
son:
Steven North.
son:
Dylan North.
daughter:
Elissa North.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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