Adolph Deutsch

Adolph Deutsch When recalling Warner Bros. composers for dramatic scores during the "golden age" of the 1930s and 1940s, Max Steiner, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, and Franz Waxman (1940s) immediately come to mind. They were the "stars" who received the choice assignments (along with ones not so choice). And, of course, the venerable Ray Heindorf was always heavily involved with the musicals in usually multiple capacities, later becoming head of the music department after Leo Forbstein died in 1948.

But there were many other fine composers at Warners during at least some of those years--among them Bernhard Kaun, Heinz Roemheld, Frederick Hollander, and the distinguished Adolph Deutsch, who was under contract at the studio from 1937 to late 1945. During those years he composed original scores for such pictures as They Won't Forget (1937), The Fighting 69th (1940), They Drive By Night (1940), All Through the Night (1942), Across the Pacific (1942), Action In the North Atlantic (1943), Three Strangers (1946), and Nobody Lives Forever (1946).

For this CD, five of his first-rate Warner scores have been selected to provide a musically varied cross-section and overview of his work. There are two milestone Humphrey Bogart films: The Maltese Falcon (John Huston, 1941) and High Sierra (1941); one Errol Flynn adventure, Northern Pursuit (1943), a Jack Benny-Ann Sheridan comedy, George Washington Slept Here (1942), and the mysterious and exotic Mask of Dimitrios (1944).

Born in London, England, in 1897, Adolph Deutsch started piano lessons at the age of five and discovered that he had absolute pitch at the age of seven. At eight he started at The Royal Academy of Music in London and received several awards for piano and composition. He also performed publicly at several London concerts. Deutsch came to the United States in 1910 at the age of thirteen and immediately became intrigued with the sounds of American popular music. Fortunately, Deutsch was able to assimilate an eclectic range of musical experiences. In 1920 he became absorbed with the possibilities of jazz orchestration. He started to study the subject and to compose small works. This led to his professional arranging for dance bands in the 1920s.

Maltese Falcon Score In the early 1930s Deutsch had freelanced on Broadway, orchestrating and conducting for musicals for Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and Rodgers and Hart. Just before coming to Warners, Deutsch had spent over three years as a composer-arranger and associate music director with famed orchestra leader Paul Whiteman's radio and concert music. Then Deutsch spent five years as chief orchestrator/arranger and assistant conductor with paul Ash's stage presentations (the Paramount Publix units).

He scored ten films in which Bogart appeared and he did pictures featuring other Warner stars such as James Cagney, Errol Flynn, Edward G. Robinson, Olivia de Havilland, Dick Powell, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino, Ronald Reagan, Jane Wyman, George Raft, etc., but no Bette Davis. She belonged primarily to Max Steiner, and to a lesser degree, Korngold and Franz Waxman. All in all Deutsch worked on 53 feature pictures at the studio (plus a loan out to Paramount in 1943 for Lucky Jordan with Alan Ladd).

Deutsch and Warners parted company in late 1945 and he freelanced for awhile (Paramount's Blaze of Noon - 1947, United Artists' Ramrod - 1947, and Paramount's Whispering Smith - 1949). Then came an offer from MGM to help out on the musical Luxury Liner (1948). After a few dramas and lighter fare, Deutsch was assigned MGM's lavish musicals. He won Academy Awards for Annie Get Your Gun (1950), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), and Oklahoma! (1955). Later, in yet another career turn, he scored two of Billy Wilder's most popular films for United Artists--Some Like It Hot (1959) and The Apartment (1960). Deutsch was also a founder and president of the Screen Composers Association. He died in 1980 of heart failure at the age of 82.

--RUDY BEHLMER, from the liner notes,
Classic Film Scores by Adolph Deutsch.

A selection of Adolph Deutsch film scores.
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