Composer and Arranger. Nationality: American. Born: Chicago, Illinois, 8 August 1900. Education: Studied the violin from age 6; studied in Warsaw with Roman Statlovsky and others. Career: 1917—violinist with Warsaw Philharmonic; interned, first by Russians, then by Germans, during World War I; from 1920—worked in New York as violinist, concert director, and composer of songs and musicals, and for radio; music director for Decca records; 1935—joined Paramount. Award: Academy Award, for Around the World in Eighty Days, 1956. Died: In Palm Springs, California, 10 November 1956.
Films as Arranger and Musical Director:
Anything Goes (Tops Is the Limit) (Milestone); Klondike Annie (Walsh); Frankie and Johnnie (Auer); Fatal Lady (Ludwig) (co); Rhythm on the Range (Taurog); Three Cheers for Love (McCarey); Big Broadcast of 1937 (Leisen); Hideaway Girl (Archainbaud); College Holiday (Tuttle)
Waikiki Wedding (Tuttle); Make Way for Tomorrow (McCarey); Turn Off the Moon (Seiler); Mountain Music (Florey); Artists and Models (Walsh); Double or Nothing (Reed); Walter Wanger's Vogues of 1938 (Cummings)
Films as Composer:
Champagne Waltz (Sutherland) (co); Maid of Salem (Lloyd); Swing High, Swing Low (Leisen) (co); Ebb Tide (Hogan); Wells Fargo (Lloyd)
Man of Conquest (Nicholls); Heritage of the Desert (Selander); Golden Boy (Mamoulian); Range War (Selander); Our Neighbors, the Carters (Murphy); The Night of Nights (Milestone); The Llano Kid (Venturini); Gulliver's Travels (Fleischer); The Light That Failed (Wellman)
Raffles (Wood); The Way of All Flesh (L. King); Dark Command (Walsh); Buck Benny Rides Again (Sandrich); Three Faces West (Borhaus); Untamed (Archainbaud); I Want a Divorce (Murphy); Moon over Burma (L. King); Arise My Love (Leisen); Three Men from Texas (Selander); North West Mounted Police (DeMille); Arizona (Ruggles); The Mad Doctor (A Date with Destiny) (Whelan)
Virginia (Griffith); I Wanted Wings (Leisen); Reaching for the Sun (Wellman); Caught in the Draft (Butler); Aloma of the South Seas (Santell); Hold Back the Dawn (Leisen); Skylark (Sandrich)
The Remarkable Andrew (Heisler); Reap the Wild Wind (DeMille); The Great Man's Lady (Wellman); Beyond the Blue Horizon (Santell); Take a Letter, Darling (Leisen); The Forest Rangers (Marshall); Flying Tigers (Miller); Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch (Murphy); The Glass Key (Heisler); Young and Willing (Griffith); The Palm Beach Story (P. Sturges); The Crystal Ball (Nugent); Silver Queen (Bacon)
The Outlaw (Hughes and Hawks—produced 1941); Salute for Three (Murphy); Buckskin Frontier (Selander); Riding High (Holiday Inn) (Marshall); China (Farrow); For Whom the Bell Tolls (Wood); Hostages (Tuttle); True to Life (Marshall); No Time for Love (Leisen)
The Uninvited (Allen); The Story of Dr. Wassell (DeMille); The Great Moment (P. Sturges); Frenchman's Creek (Leisen); Ministry of Fear (F. Lang); Practically Yours (Leisen); And Now Tomorrow (Pichel)
Kitty (Leisen); A Medal for Benny (Pichel); You Came Along (Farrow); The Great John L. (A Man Called Sullivan) (Tuttle); Love Letters (Dieterle); Hold That Blonde! (Marshall)
The Blue Dahlia (Marshall); The Searching Wind (Dieterle); Our Hearts Were Growing Up (Russell); To Each His Own (Leisen); Two Years before the Mast (Farrow)
Suddenly It's Spring (Leisen); California (Farrow); The Imperfect Lady (Mrs. Loring's Secret) (Allen); Calcutta (Farrow); The Trouble with Women (Lanfield) (co); I Walk Alone (Haskin); Unconquered (DeMille); Golden Earrings (Leisen)
State of the Union (Capra); The Big Clock (Farrow); The Emperor Waltz (Wilder); Dream Girl (Leisen); So Evil My Love (Allen) (co); Miss Tatlock's Millions (Haydn); The Night Has a Thousand Eyes (Farrow); The Paleface (McLeod)
The Accused (Dieterle); Streets of Laredo (Fenton); A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (Garnett); Samson and Delilah (DeMille); Sands of Iwo Jima (Dwan); Song of Surrender (Leisen); Chicago Deadline (Allen); Deadly Is the Female (Gun Crazy ) (Lewis); Our Very Own (Miller); My Foolish Heart (Robson)
Thelma Jordan (The File on Thelma Jordan) (Siodmak); The Fireball (Garnett); Paid in Full (Dieterle); Bright Leaf (Curtiz); Rio Grande (Ford)
September Affair (Dieterle); Belle Le Grand (Dwan); Payment on Demand (Bernhardt); The Lemon Drop Kid (Lanfield); The Bullfighter and the Lady (Boetticher); Honeychile (Springsteen); Appointment with Danger (United States Mail) (Allen); A Millionaire for Christy (Marshall); My Favorite Spy (McLeod); The Wild Blue Yonder (Thunder across the Pacific; Bombs over Japan) (Dwan)
The Quiet Man (Ford); Anything Can Happen (Seaton); Something to Live For (Stevens); Scaramouche (Sidney); The Greatest Show on Earth (DeMille); One Minute to Zero (Garnett); The Star (Heisler); Thunderbirds (Auer); Blackbeard the Pirate (Walsh)
The Stars Are Singing (Taurog); Fair Wind to Java (Kane); A Perilous Journey (Springsteen); The Sun Shines Bright (Ford); Shane (Stevens); Flight Nurse (Dwan); Little Boy Lost (Seaton); Forever Female (Rapper)
Jubilee Trail (Kane); Johnny Guitar (Ray); Three Coins in the Fountain (Negulesco); Trouble in the Glen (Wilcox); About Mrs. Leslie (Daniel Mann); Drum Beat (Daves); The Country Girl (Seaton); Timberjack (Kane)
Strategic Air Command (A. Mann); Son of Sinbad (Tetzlaff); A Man Alone (Milland); The Left Hand of God (Dmytryk); The Tall Men (Walsh); The Conqueror (Powell)
The Maverick Queen (Kane); The Proud and the Profane (Seaton); Around the World in Eighty Days (Anderson)
Films as Musical Director:
Army Girl (Nicholls); Thrill of a Lifetime (Archainbaud); Breaking the Ice (Cline); The Gladiator (Sedgwick); Peck's Bad Boy with the Circus (Cline); Flirting with Fate (McDonald)
Fisherman's Wharf (Vorhaus); Man about Town (Sandrich); Way Down South (Vorhaus); Escape to Paradise (Kenton)
Road to Singapore (Schertzinger); Those Were the Days (Reed); Rhythm on the River (Schertzinger); Dancing on a Dime (Santley); Love thy Neighbor (Sandrich)
Las Vegas Nights (Murphy); Road to Zanzibar (Schertzinger); Kiss the Boys Goodbye (Schertzinger); Glamour Boy (Murphy)
Sweater Girl (Clemens); True to the Army (Rogell); The Fleet's In (Schertzinger) (co); Priorities on Parade (Rogell); Road to Morocco (Butler)
And the Angels Sing (Marshall and Binyon)
Out of This World (Walker); Masquerade in Mexico (Leisen)
The Story of Will Rogers (Curtiz)
Knock on Wood (Panama)
The Vagabond King (Curtiz)
By YOUNG: article—
Music Journal (New York), September 1956.
On YOUNG: articles—
Thomas, Tony, in Music for the Movies, South Brunswick, New Jersey, 1973.
Bertolina, Gian Carlo, in Rivista del Cinematografo (Rome), January 1981.
Lacombe, Alain, in Hollywood, Paris, 1983.
Deutsch, D.C., "Shane: A Tribute to Victor Young," in Soundtrack! (Hollywood), December 1996.
"Shane: A Tribute to Victor Young," in Score (Lelystad), December 1996.
Bennett, R., "Sometimes They Do Make Them Like They Used To," in Home Theater, no. 11, 1997.
* * *
It was said of Victor Young that he needed only to sit at the piano for the melodies to fall out of his sleeves. Certainly his productivity was incredible. He arrived in Hollywood in 1936 and by the time he died 20 years later he had either arranged or composed, and conducted or supervised the music for more than 300 films. That, however, was only part of his musical life; at the same time he also wrote and conducted music for many of the top radio programs of the time, while also working as a recording artist for Decca Records. No film composer of the period made more recordings, or had more hit songs drawn from his scores: "Love Letters," "Stella by Starlight," "My Foolish Heart," "Golden Earrings," "When I Fall in Love," and "Around the World in Eighty Days," among others.
Young began playing the violin at the age of six. Four years later the family returned to Poland and the boy was enrolled in the Imperial Conservatory of Warsaw, after which he was engaged as a soloist with various orchestras. Returning to America in 1920, he accepted the position of concertmaster with the Central Park Theater in Chicago, the anchor theatre in the Balaban and Katz chain of movie theaters. By the mid-1920s Young was a music director for the chain and writing accompaniments to silent films. In 1931 he signed with Brunswick Records and over the next four years became the best-known music director in radio and a leading conductor in the record business.
Paramount offered him a contract in 1935 and the majority of his scores through his film years were for that studio. Most of Young's early assignments were for light entertainments but his score for the epic Wells Fargo caused producers to regard him more seriously. Cecil B. DeMille was so taken with his score for North West Mounted Police that he would consider no other composer thereafter. Young was preparing to score The Ten Commandments at the time of his death, after which Elmer Bernstein was hired to write a "Young-like" score. A man of extraordinary facility, Young wrote with apparent ease, albeit in a conventional form, and of his vast number of scores the one for which he seemed to have the most regard was For Whom the Bell Tolls. That and nine others were nominated for Oscars but he did not live to receive his one Academy Award. Young died in 1956; the following March he was awarded a posthumous Oscar for Around the World in Eighty Days.
Young could never explain why he became a film composer, it was simply something that happened to him. He said, "Why, indeed, would any trained musician let himself in for a career that calls for the exactitude of an Einstein, the diplomacy of Churchill, and the patience of a martyr. Yet I can think of no other medium that offers this challenge and excitement, provided that your interest in the universe is unflagging and your knowledge of musical forms is gargantuan."
Young, Victor, American pianist and composer; b. Bristol, Term., April 9, 1889; d. Ossining, N.Y., Sept. 2, 1968. He studied piano with Isidor Philipp in Paris. He toured in England and the U.S. as accompanist to prominent singers; held various teaching positions; was music director in Thomas A. Edison’s Experimental Laboratory in West Orange, N.J., conducting tonal tests and making piano recordings under Edison’s personal supervision (1919-27). He wrote the musical score for one of the earliest sound films, In Old California) composed some 300 film scores altogether; also wrote, for orch., Scherzetto, Jeep, In the Great Smokies, Charm Assembly Line Ballet, etc.; piano pieces.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire