Spialek, Hans, Austrian-American orchestrator, arranger, and composer; b. Vienna, April 17, 1894; d. N.Y, Nov. 20, 1983. He took courses at the Vienna Cons. He was drafted into the Austrian army during World War I and taken prisoner by the Russians. In Russia his musical abilities were duly appreciated, and after the Russian Revolution he was given a job at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow as asst. stage manager (1918–20); concurrently studied at the Cons. with Glière; later he conducted sym. orchs. in Bessarabia (1920–22). He married a Russian singer, Dora Boshoer. In 1923 he went to Germany, and in 1924 reached the U.S. He earned his living as a music copyist; he also supplied orch. interludes and entr’acte music, showing such expertise at organizing the raw materials of American musicals that even before he could master the American tongue he intuitively found the proper instrumentation for the text; and he could work fast to meet the deadlines. Altogether he orchestrated 147 shows, among them 5 by Cole Porter and 11 by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. With Robert Russell Bennett, he became one of the most reliable arrangers on Broadway. He also composed some orch. works in the approved Broadway style, with such idiosyncratic titles as The Tall City (1933) and Manhattan Watercolors (1937).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire