THE COMPOSER: Hugo Friedhofer


Hugo Wilhelm Friedhofer (May 3, 1901 – May 17, 1981), an American composer, worked on hundreds of films as orchestrator, composer, or co-composer, mostly without screen credit. He got his start in Hollywood in 1929, becoming a session player for Fox Studios, and later moved to Warner Bros as an orchestrator, deftly expanding treatments by Max Steiner and Erich Wolfgang Korngold into full orchestral scores. In 1946, Friedhofer extricated himself from the studio system and began to freelance. He wrote the score for Columbia’s Gilda (1946) and won an Oscar for RKO’s The Best Years of our Lives in the same year.


Friedhofer was also nominated for other films, including The Bishop's Wife, Joan of Arc, Above and Beyond, Between Heaven and Hell, Boy on a Dolphin, An Affair to Remember, and The Young Lions.

Friedhofer, who was greatly admired by his colleagues, was also noted for his caustic, self-deprecating wit. When asked by a fellow composer as to the progress he was making on his score for Joan of Arc, he replied, "I've just started on the barbecue!". In reply to an interview by the film music critic at Films in Review magazine, who inquired about his place in the pantheon of film musicians, Friedhofer said, "I am just a fake giant among real pygmies."

Read more about Hugo Friedhofer here.