Miklos Rozsa

Composer
Hungarian-born composer Miklos Rosza's exquisite string arrangements, powerful use of percussion and unconventional approach to composition would revolutionize the film score, raising the field to greater dramatic and ... Read more »
Born: 04/18/1907 in Budapest, HU

Filmography

Music (102)

Think Like a Man Too 2014 (Movie)

("Danger Ahead") (Song)

Fahrenheit 9/11 2004 (Movie)

("Danger Ahead"(Theme From Dragnet)) (Song)

L.A. Dragnet 2003 - 2004 (Tv Show)

Original Music

Inspector Gadget 1999 (Movie)

("Danger Ahead") (Song)

Man on the Moon 1999 (Movie)

("Parade of Charioteers (from 'Ben Hur')") (Song)

Spice World 1998 (Movie)

("Memories (Part 2)") (Song)

Cops and Robbersons 1994 (Movie)

("Danger Ahead") (Song)

Manhattan Murder Mystery 1993 (Movie)

("The Hallway") (Song)

Gesucht: Monika Ertl 1988 (Movie)

(Music)

Dragnet 1987 (Movie)

("Danger Ahead") (Song)

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid 1982 (Movie)

("Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid") (Song)

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid 1982 (Movie)

(Music)

Eye of the Needle 1981 (Movie)

(Music)

The Atomic Cafe 1981 (Movie)

conductor(Frankenland State Symphony Orchestra) (Music Conductor)

The Atomic Cafe 1981 (Movie)

("Theme From Brute Force" "Theme From 'The Killers'") (Music)

Last Embrace 1979 (Movie)

("The Forties") (Song)

Last Embrace 1979 (Movie)

(Music)

Time After Time 1979 (Movie)

(Music)

Fedora 1978 (Movie)

(Music)

Providence 1977 (Movie)

(Music)

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad 1972 (Movie)

(Music)

Friday on My Mind 1969 (Movie)

("Spellbound") (Music)

The Green Berets 1968 (Movie)

(Music)

The V.I.P.s 1963 (Movie)

(Music)

El Cid 1961 (Movie)

(Music)

King of Kings 1961 (Movie)

(Music)

Sodoma e Gomorra 1961 (Movie)

(Music)

Ben-Hur 1959 (Movie)

(Music)

A Time to Love and a Time to Die 1958 (Movie)

(Music)

The World, the Flesh and the Devil 1958 (Movie)

(Music)

Something of Value 1957 (Movie)

(Music)

Bhowani Junction 1956 (Movie)

music director (Music)

Lust For Life 1956 (Movie)

(Music)

Tribute to a Bad Man 1956 (Movie)

(Music)

Diane 1955 (Movie)

(Music)

Moonfleet 1955 (Movie)

(Music)

The King's Thief 1955 (Movie)

(Music)

Crest of the Wave 1954 (Movie)

(Music)

Green Fire 1954 (Movie)

(Song)

Green Fire 1954 (Movie)

(Music)

Men of the Fighting Lady 1954 (Movie)

(Music)

Valley of the Kings 1954 (Movie)

(Music)

All the Brothers Were Valiant 1953 (Movie)

(Music)

Julius Caesar 1953 (Movie)

(Music)

Knights of the Round Table 1953 (Movie)

(Music)

Quo Vadis 1951 (Movie)

(Music)

Crisis 1950 (Movie)

(Music)

The Asphalt Jungle 1950 (Movie)

(Music)

Adam's Rib 1949 (Movie)

(Music)

Command Decision 1949 (Movie)

(Music)

Criss Cross 1949 (Movie)

(Music)

The Red Danube 1949 (Movie)

(Music)

Brute Force 1947 (Movie)

(Music)

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers 1946 (Movie)

(Music)

Spellbound 1945 (Movie)

(Music)

The Lost Weekend 1945 (Movie)

(Music)

Double Indemnity 1944 (Movie)

(Music Arranger)

Double Indemnity 1944 (Movie)

(Music)

Five Graves to Cairo 1942 (Movie)

(Music)

Sahara 1942 (Movie)

(Music)

The Woman of the Town 1942 (Movie)

(Music)

The Thief of Bagdad 1939 (Movie)

(Music)

The Four Feathers 1938 (Movie)

(Music)

A Double Life (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

Because of Him (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

Blood on the Sun (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

Desert Fury (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

Edward, My Son (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

Ivanhoe (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

Kiss the Blood off My Hands (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

Knight Without Armour (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

Lady on a Train (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

Lydia (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

Madame Bovary (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

Ministry of Fear (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

New Wine (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

Proudly We Hail (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

Proudly We Hail (Movie)

(Songwriter)

Secret Beyond the Door (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

Song of Scheherazade (Movie)

(Musical Direction/Supervision)

Song of Scheherazade (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

That Hamilton Woman (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

That Hamilton Woman (Movie)

(Musical Direction/Supervision)

The Bribe (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

The Divorce of Lady X (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

The Hour Before the Dawn (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

The Jungle Book (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

The Killers (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

The Killers (Movie)

(Songwriter)

The Macomber Affair (Movie)

(Musical Direction/Supervision)

The Macomber Affair (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

The Man in Half-Moon Street (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

The Miniver Story (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

The Other Love (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

The Plymouth Adventure (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

The Power (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

The Power (Movie)

(Musical Direction/Supervision)

The Red House (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

Thunder in the City (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

Young Bess (Movie)

(Composer (Music Score))

Biography

Hungarian-born composer Miklos Rosza's exquisite string arrangements, powerful use of percussion and unconventional approach to composition would revolutionize the film score, raising the field to greater dramatic and evocative heights. A born musician, Rozsa began studying the violin at age five and became steeped in the folk music of his native land, an influence that could be detected in much of his later work. While his parents tried to steer him towards a more practical lifestyle, insisting he major in chemistry at the University of Leipzig, it wasn't long before he was enrolled in Leipzig Conservatory, training in musicology, preparing him for a long, successful and influential career in music.

Having done a good bit of early work as a symphonic composer, even completing a ballet while in his 20s, Rozsa scored the British films "The Squeaker" and "Knight Without Armour" (both 1937) as a way to support himself. Soon after, his work with fellow Hungarians Zoltan and Alexander Korda would bring him worldwide fame and opportunities. His impressive score for Zoltan Korda's "The Four Feathers" (1939) included traditional but rousing adventure themes infused with a fresh use of booming drums and a stirring wailing chorus. Rozsa proved a capable and visionary artist, and was hired to score "The Thief of Bagdad" (1940), directed by the uncredited Kordas, among others. The exotic and sensuous score established Rozsa as a powerfully moving composer and essentially served as his introduction to the American movie system, a medium in which he would work prolifically for over 40 years. Emerging as a versatile and consistently dependable composer, he was always capable of writing a memorable and appropriate score, his expertise extending to such divergent genres as dramatic romance ("That Hamilton Woman" 1941), sharp comedy ("Adam's Rib" 1949), grand epics ("King of Kings" 1961) and film noir ("The Naked City" 1948).

Rozsa began his legendary association with director Billy Wilder with 1943's adventure "Five Graves to Cairo". His score was an especially significant element, building suspense and setting the mood in a film featuring several scenes without dialogue. The composer also accomplished the task of hinting at the deadly silence of the desert, through dropped out musical portions. He followed up with the unforgettable score for the noir classic "Double Indemnity". Unabashedly gloomy and dramatic, Rozsa opened the feature with a foreboding dirge, a march to a dark destiny. The music followed the mood of the film perfectly, both complementing and enhancing Wilder's edgy suspense. For the director's acclaimed 1945 drama "The Lost Weekend", Rozsa masterfully used a theremin, an electronic instrument with an incomparable eerie sound, the perfect expressionistic choice to accompany Ray Milland's disturbing bouts with the DTs. Additional Wilder credits include 1970's "The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes", featuring a performance by Holmes of the composer's Violin Concerto, and "Fedora" (1978), with Rosza's score suffering from overediting and underuse in an unremarkable film.

Rosza's dynamic work in the noirish "The Killers" (1946) would prove to be most influential. In addition to the moving operatic ending that melodically underlines Ava Gardner's downfall, the composer created a recurring theme that announced the hit men and marked their every scene. This piece, four solid beats that resound like punches, is later slowed down to the sound of a jail cell closing, illustrating their fate. This portion of the score would later be adapted into the theme song for the popular TV series "Dragnet". Comparably powerful, although much shorter was Rozsa's work for John Huston's "The Asphalt Jungle" (1950). Very sparsely scored, with real musical accompaniment for the beginning and the end only, the film captured the sound of urban despair in its score, evincing both anxiety and weariness. The musical accompaniment to the film's end is powerful in its simplicity, indicating both desperation and an acceptance of the inevitable negative. The 1947 prison drama "Brute Force" showcased and was served well by Rozsa's evocative soundtrack, his music framing the film's action. The composer's brilliant shaky and despairing reuse of the inspiring and powerful opening theme in the film's final scene proved him a master of dramatic device.

The Hitchcock classic "Spellbound" (1945) gave Rozsa an opportunity to create one of his most breathtaking scores, and won the composer his first Academy Award. He enhanced the romance between Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck with their enthralling and intimate love theme, and punctuated Peck's bouts of conscience with the sinister squeal of a theremin. He additionally won an Oscar for his breakthrough scoring of George Cukor's "A Double Life" (1947), the composer's impeccable music enhancing the compelling and solid melodrama.

Also quite memorable was the composer's work in epic drama, scoring such grand films as "Julius Caesar" (1953), "Ben-Hur" (1959) and "El Cid" (1961). After signing with MGM in the late 40s, Rozsa was hired as the composer for such epics, no doubt on the strength of his previous efforts. He became a student of the history of the films he was to score, meticulously researching to make the filmgoing experience either true to the time (as in the period sound and instrumentation he employed in 1952's "Ivanhoe") or reflective of the characters and themes portrayed (opting for a mesmerizing, lively and vivid lilt for Vincente Minnelli's 1956 Vincent Can Gogh biopic "Lust for Life", while a Wagnerian opera sound would be more consistent with the actual musical atmosphere of the painter's time). While his Oscar-winning score to "Ben-Hur", with its grand drama could be deemed predictable, it remains, nevertheless, unforgettable, Rozsa defining for generations of moviegoers the sound of Biblical drama.

The Hitchcock classic "Spellbound" (1945) gave Rozsa an opportunity to create one of his most breathtaking scores, and won the composer his first Academy Award. He enhanced the romance between Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck with their enthralling and intimate love theme, and punctuated Peck's bouts of conscience with the sinister squeal of a theremin. He additionally won an Oscar for his breakthrough scoring of George Cukor's "A Double Life" (1947), the composer's impeccable music enhancing the compelling and solid melodrama.

Among Rozsa's remarkable later work was his alluring and captivating score for 1977's curious "Providence", his rich and romantic music for "Time After Time" (1979) and his final work, the hard-edged composition for the 1982 noir spoof "Dead Man Don't Wear Plaid" that harkened back to some of the his best earlier work.

Relationships

Edith Jankay

Sister
born c. 1914 survived him

Margaret Rozsa

Wife
married in August 1943 survived him

Nicholas Rozsa

Son
survived him

Julia Rozsa-Brown

Daughter
survived him

EDUCATION

attended a realgymnasium in Budapest; graduated in 1925

University of Liepzig

simultaneously attended the Leipzig Conservatory in 1925-26

Leipzig Conservatory

also educated in Paris and London

Milestones

1982

Wrote the score for the film noir spoof "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid"

1979

Scored the time travel tale "Time After Time"

1977

Served as music director for Alain Resnais' "Providence"

1974

Returned to Hungary for first time since he left

1961

Wrote an appropriately grand score for the epic "El Cid"

1959

Scored the Biblical epic "Ben-Hur", winning his third Academy Award

1956

Wrote the moving score for the Vincent Van Gogh biopic "Lust for Life"

1953

Scored Joseph L Mankiewicz's "Julius Caesar"

1950

Composed the spare but powerful music of "The Asphalt Jungle"

1947

Won second Academy Award for his work on "A Double Life"

1944

Composed the enchanting Oscar-winning score for "Spellbound"

1944

Employed the eerie harmonics of a theramin in his score for "The Lost Weekend"

1943

Wrote memorable noir music for the Wilder classic "Double Indemnity"

1942

Began association with Billy Wilder with his extraordinary score for the director's "Five Graves to Cairo"

1941

Scored "The Jungle Book"

1940

Wrote an ornate dramatic score for "The Thief of Bagdad"

1939

Scored Zoltan Korda's impressive adventure "The Four Feathers"

1912

Began studying violin (date approximate)

In his 20s, wrote first ballet score

Bonus Trivia

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Rozsa's contract with MGM stipulated that each year he would be allowed three months off each summer without pay during which time he would compose his concert pieces. --From Robert Horton's article "Music Man", in FILM COMMENT, November/December 1995

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