HENRY MANCINI Biography - Musicians


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Name: Henry Mancini                                                                               
Birth name: Enrico Nicola Mancini                                                                 
Born: 16 April 1924 Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.                                                         
Died: 14 June 1994 Los Angeles, California, U.S.                                                   
Henry Mancini (April 16, 1924 - June 14, 1994) was an Academy Award winning                       
American composer, conductor and arranger of Italian descent. He is remembered                     
particularly for being a composer of film and television scores. Mancini also                     
won a record number of Grammy awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement                     
Award in 1995. His best-known works are the jazz-idiom theme to The Pink Panther                   
film series and Moon River.                                                                       
Mancini was born Enrico Nicola Mancini in the Little Italy neighborhood of                         
Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the steel town of                   
West Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. His parents emigrated from the Abruzzo region of                     
Italy. Mancini's father, Quinto, was a steelworker, who made his only child                       
begin flute lessons at the age of eight. When Mancini was 12 years old, he began                   
piano lessons. Quinto and Henry played flute together in the Aliquippa Italian                     
immigrant band, "Sons of Italy". After high school, Mancini attended the                           
renowned Juilliard School of Music in New York                                                     
In 1943, after roughly one year at Juilliard, his studies were interrupted when                   
he was drafted into the army. In 1945, he participated in the liberation of a                     
South German concentration camp.                                                                   
Upon discharge, Mancini entered the music industry and became a pianist and                       
arranger for the newly-formed Glenn Miller band, led by Tex Beneke. His greatest                   
musical passions have been for swing and jazz. After World War II, Mancini                         
broadened his composition, counterpoint, harmony and orchestration skills during                   
studies with two acclaimed "serious" concert hall composers, Ernst Krenek and                     
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.                                                                         
In 1952, Mancini joined the Universal Pictures music department. During the next                   
six years, he contributed music to over 100 movies, most notably The Creature                     
from the Black Lagoon, It Came from Outer Space, Tarantula, This Island Earth,                     
The Glenn Miller Story (for which he received his first Academy Award nomination),                 
The Benny Goodman Story and Orson Welles' Touch of Evil. Mancini left Universal-International     
to work as an independent composer/arranger in 1958. Soon after, he scored the                     
television series Peter Gunn for writer/producer Blake Edwards, the genesis of a                   
relationship which lasted over 35 years and produced nearly 30 films. Together                     
with Alex North, Elmer Bernstein, Leith Stevens and Johnny Mandel, Henry Mancini                   
was one of the pioneers who introduced jazz music into the late romantic                           
orchestral film and TV scores prevalent at the time.                                               
Mancini's scores for Blake Edwards included Breakfast at Tiffany's (with the                       
standard, "Moon River"), and with "Days of Wine and Roses," "Experiment in                         
Terror," The Pink Panther, (and all of its sequels), The Great Race, The Party,                   
"Victor/Victoria". Another director with a longstanding partnership with Mancini                   
was Stanley Donen (Charade, Arabesque, Two for the Road). Mancini also composed                   
for Howard Hawks (Man's Favorite Sport, Hatari! - which included the well-known                   
"Baby Elephant Walk"), Martin Ritt (The Molly Maguires), Vittorio de Sica (Sunflower),             
Norman Jewison (Gaily Gaily), Paul Newman (Sometimes a Great Notion, The Glass                     
Menagerie), Stanley Kramer's (Oklahoma Crude), George Roy Hill(The Great Waldo                     
Pepper), Arthur Hiller (Silver Streak), and Ted Kotcheff (Who is Killing the                       
Great Chefs of Europe?), and others. Mancini's score for the Alfred Hitchcock                     
film, Frenzy (1972), was rejected and replaced by Ron Goodwin's work.                             
Mancini scored many TV movies, including The Thorn Birds and The Shadow Box. He                   
wrote his share of television themes, including Mr. Lucky, NBC News Election                       
Night Coverage, "NBC Mystery Movie," What's Happening!!, Newhart,                                 
Remington Steele, Tic Tac Dough (1990 version) and Hotel.                                         
Mancini also composed the "Viewer Mail" theme for Late Night with David                           
Mancini recorded over 90 albums, in styles ranging from big band to classical to                   
pop. Eight of these albums were certified gold by The Recording Industry                           
Association of America. He had a 20 year contract with RCA Records, resulting in                   
60 commercial record albums that made him a household name composer of easy                       
listening music.                                                                                   
Mancini's range also extended to orchestral and ethnic scores (Lifeforce, The                     
Great Mouse Detective, Sunflower, Molly Maguires, The Hawaiians), and darker                       
themes ("Experiment In Terror," "The White Dawn," "Wait Until Dark," "The Night                   
Mancini was also a concert performer, conducting over fifty engagements per year,                 
resulting in over 600 symphony performances during his lifetime. Among the                         
symphony orchestras he conducted are the London Symphony Orchestra, the Israel                     
Philharmonic, the Boston Pops, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Royal                         
Philharmonic Orchestra. He appeared in 1966, 1980 and 1984 in command                             
performances for the British Royal Family. He also toured several times with                       
Johnny Mathis and with Andy Williams, who had sung many of Mancini's songs.                       
Mancini had experience with acting and voice roles. In 1994 he made a one-off                     
cameo appearance in the first season of the sitcom series Frasier, as a call-in                   
patient to Dr. Frasier Crane's radio show. Mancini voiced the character Al, who                   
speaks with a melancholy drawl and hates the sound of his own voice, in the                       
episode "Guess Who's Coming to Breakfast?" Mancini also had an uncredited                         
performance as a pianist in the 1967 movie Gunn, the movie version of the series                   
Peter Gunn, the score of which was originally composed by Mancini himself.                         
Mancini died at the age of 70 in Beverly Hills/Los Angeles, California of                         
pancreatic cancer. He was working at the time on the Broadway stage version of                     
Victor/Victoria. At the time of his death, Mancini was married to singer                           
Virginia O'Connor, with whom he had three children.                                               
In 1996, the Henry Mancini Institute, an academy for young music professionals,                   
was founded by Jack Elliott in Mancini's honor, and later under the direction of                   
composer-conductor Patrick Williams. By the early 2000s, however, the institute                   
could not sustain itself and closed its doors on December 31, 2006.