THE COMPOSER: Adolph Deutsch

Adolph Deutsch is not a name that looms too large in the field of soundtrack music, this despite the fact that he made his career in Hollywood for nearly 25 years, from 1938 until 1961, and worked in every idiom from crime dramas to big-budget musicals.

Deutsch began to learn music at the age of five, and studied composition and piano at the Royal College of Music in London. At the age of 13 he was taken to the USA by his uncle and settled in Buffalo. He became a US citizen in 1920. After high school he worked in the accessory department at the Ford Motor Company, at the same time submitting arrangements to various entertainment organizations. He moved to New York, and during the 1920s and early ‘30s, scored and arranged for musical shows, including those of Irving Berlin and George Gershwin; worked in radio, with a three year stint on Paul Whiteman’s Music Hall; and served as musical director on a few films, such as The Smiling Lieutenant (1931).

In 1937 he began to score films, initially for Warner Bros., such as High Sierra, The Maltese Falcon, and Three Strangers. In 1939, Deutsch spent twelve weeks assisting Max Steiner with his score for Gone With The Wind. In 1948 he joined MGM, already well into their golden age of musical movies, and was associated with the studio until 1962. He won Academy Awards for his scores for Annie Get Your Gun (1950), Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954), and Oklahoma! (1955). He won Oscar nominations for his work on Show Boat, The Band Wagon, Deep In My Heart, Some Like It Hot, and The Apartment (1960).

Deutsch also wrote a symphonic piece, the “Scottish Suite,” which was performed by US classical orchestras, and a number of other instrumental works, such as “March Of The United Nations,” “Clarabelle,” “Three Sisters,“ “Piano Echoes,” “Skyride,” “March Eccentrique,” “Margo,” “Stairway,” and ‘“Lonely Room” (theme from The Apartment). In 1943 Deutsch formed the Screen Composers Association and was its President Emeritus from 1955 until his death in 1980.