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Alfred Newman

NEWMAN, ALFRED (1901–1970), U.S. film composer, conductor, pianist. Newman was born in New Haven, Conn., to produce dealer Michael Newman and cantor's daughter Luba Koskoff, both Russian immigrants. As a music lover, his mother took an active role in her son's music career. His first public performance as a piano prodigy was at the age of eight. After winning a scholarship to Sigismond Stojowksi's Von Ende School of Music in New York, Newman's debut recital came on November 5, 1916. However, financial problems at home forced Newman to become a vaudeville musician, working on Hitchy-Koo from 1917 to 1918. The show's music director encouraged Newman to study conducting, and by 1919 he was conducting musical comedies. A recommendation from George Gershwin landed him the position as music director for the 1920 Broadway show Scandals. In 1930 Newman went to Hollywood at the invitation of United Artists. After working on the musical Whoopee! (1930), he became the studio's music director. During almost nine years with UA, Newman composed music for such films as The Count of Monte Cristo (1930), The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), and Wuthering Heights (1939). In 1940, he signed with Darryl F. Zanuck as general music director of Twentieth Century Fox, where he wrote music for such films as How Green Was My Valley (1941), All About Eve (1950), and The Robe (1953). With Martha Montgomery, whom he married in 1947, he had five children in addition to two from previous marriages. The 1960s found Newman working as a freelancer for projects like How the West Was Won (1962), The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), Flower Drum Song (1967), and Camelot (1967). Newman received 45 Oscar nominations during his career and won nine, and was posthumously nominated for his final score, Airport (1970).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.