Max Steiner, born as Maximilian Raoul Walter Steiner on May 10 1888 in Vienna, was one of Hollywoods most famous and hard-working composers. He was one of the composers of the Golden Age of Hollywood movies in the Thirties and Forties. With the introduction of sound films arranging and composing for movies became more difficult as the music did not only had to fit to the picture but it also shouldn't disturb the dialogues (and it was no longer played live but had to be recorded). During the Golden Age mainly classical music was used, so Hollywood needed composers with a classical background. It was the time of people like Wolfgang Erich Korngold, David Raksin or Max Steiner.

Young Max attended Vienna School of Technology and The Imperial Academy of Music, where he finished its musical program in one year (it normally takes four!) being influenced by his teachers Robert Fuchs, Herman Groedner and Gustav Mahler. His musical talent was pretty obvious: At the age of 12 he conducted the first time at his father's theatre and with 16 he wrote his first opera The Beautiful Greek Girl. His father did not think it was very good and refused to play it at his theatre. So Max went to one of his fathers competitors, who agreed in playing it and it became a success. 1905 he moved to London where he worked as a composer and conductor at theatres and for musicals. When World War I broke out in 1914 he was no longer welcome in London as he was seen as an enemy. He moved to New York where he continued his work as a conductor and composer for musicals.

1929 he started to work for Hollywood. But not for a "normal" film. In 1927 he conducted and orchestrated the musical Rio Rita by Harry Tierney. RKO bought the filming rights for it and when they wanted to make the movie Harry insisted that Max Steiner should conduct the movie version, too. After this musical Max continued to work for RKO until 1936 making the music for such films like King Kong or The Informer. 1936 he changed to Selznick International, but working for Warner Bros., too. 1937 he changed completely to Warner, for whom he for example composed the score for Gone With The Wind (1939) and Casablanca (1942), which both earned him Oscar nominations. All together he was nominated 26 times, but won it "only" three times. 1953 he stopped working for Warner, but continued to make movies scores. Becoming nearly blind he had to stop working 1965 and finally died December 28, 1971. Altogether Max Steiner composed and conducted for more than 300 Hollywood films, including some of Hollywood's greatest movies. Though sometimes his music is of said to be to schmaltzy, he is one of the most important composers of the 20th century, bringing the music to the movies.

I will not list all of his movies here (just too many, and you can find them at IMDB), but only the ones nominated for Oscars or winning it (if you think an important one is missing, just drop me a message and I will think about adding it).

Oscar Nominations
The Lost Patrol (1934)
The Gay Divorcee (1934)
The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936)
The Garden of Allah (1936)
The Life of Emile Zola (1937)
Jezebel (1938)
Dark Victory (1939)
Gone With The Wind (1939)
The Letter (1940)
Sergeant York (1941)
Casablanca (1942)
The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944)
Rhapsody in Blue (1945)
Night and Day (1946)
My Wild Irish Rose (1947)
Life With Father (1947)
Johnny Belinda (1948)
Beyond the Forest (1949)
The Flame and the Arrow (1950)
The Jazz Singer (1952)
The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima (1952)
The Caine Mutiny (1954)
Battle Cry (1955)

The Informer (1935)
Now, Voyager (1942)
Since You Went Away (1944)

The Hollywood Sound, documentation by Joshua Waletzky

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