Morton Gould

American composer, arranger, conductor and pianist Morton Gould is best remembered for his work with Broadway and film music.

Born in New York, Gould was a child prodigy with extensive compositional skills and advanced improvisational abilities. By the age of six, he had his first composition published. He studied with both Vincent Jones and Abby Whiteside, and attended the Institute of Musical Art.

In the Great Depression Era, Gould supported himself by playing piano in New York City at movie theaters and with Vaudeville acts. He was hired as the pianist when Radio City Music Hall opened, which led him to a job with a New York radio station conducting and arranging orchestral programs. It was through this job that he first gained a national audience, as he intermixed popular programming with classical music.

Along with Broadway scores for Billion Dollar Baby and Arms and the Girl, Gould also wrote film music, ballet scores, and music for television series. He was commissioned by the Library of Congress, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and symphony orchestras all over the United States. What sets Gould apart as a composer is his unnatural ability to combine multiple genres while maintaining their respective elements in his music. He was constantly incorporating new styles into his work as they came about. Never afraid to try unusual combinations, some works in his repertoire call for a rapping narrator and other disparate elements, while still upholding musical integrity.

Gould was in demand as a conductor almost as frequently as he was in demand as a composer. He stood before many of the major American orchestras as well as internationally in Australia, Japan, Mexico, Canada, and Europe. Achievements include a Grammy Award in 1966 (for the recording of Ives’ First Symphony), the American Symphony Orchestra League’s Gold Baton Award in 1983, and being elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1986. Also in 1986, Gould was president of ASCAP, holding the position until 1994. In 1994, he was honored by the Kennedy Center, receiving recognition for lifetime contributions to American culture. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1995, and posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

Gould passed away in his Florida home in 1996 from heart complications.

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