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Space Age Music Maker

Ernest Gold

  • Born 13 Jul 1921, Vienna, Austria
  • Died 17 Mar 1999, Santa Monica, California

EErnest Gold's score for "Exodus," Otto Preminger's 1960 film about the birth of the state of Israel, won him the 1960 Academy Award as well as two Grammys, and the title tune became a true space age pop standard. Artists from Mantovani to jazz saxman Eddie Harris to early reggae star Ernest Ranglin covered "Exodus", and the soundtrack was among the ten best-selling albums of 1960. Numerous covers reached the BillboardTop 40, with Ferrante & Teicher's topping the batch at #14.

Gold began studying violin and piano at the age of six, started composing at eight, and had written full-length opera by the age of thirteen. He studied at the State Academy of Music in Vienna, but fled to the U.S. with his family when the Nazis took over Austria in 1938. He quickly adapted to his new country, and within a year after arriving, had his first symphony performed by the NBC Orchestra. He spent the early 40s as a songwriter, with mixed success: his biggest hit was a topical tune about the draft, "Private Makes Perfect."

Gold moved to Hollywood in 1945 and went to work for Columbia Pictures. He labored away on a number of mostly forgotten films until producer Stanley Kramer hired him to orchestrate George Antheil's music for his 1955 film, "Not as a Stranger." He went on to work on a number of Kramer's films, including "The Pride and the Passion" (1957),"The Defiant Ones" (1958), "On the Beach" (1959), "Inherit the Wind" (1960), "Judgment at Nuremberg" (1961), "A Child is Waiting" (1963), "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" (1963). Gold had a definite opinion of the role of music in films. "What is visible should not be duplicated in the soundtrack," he once said.

He wrote symphonic and chamber works along with his film scores and in 1968 wrote a Broadway musical, I'm Solomon, that starred comedian Dick Shawn and ran for only seven performances. Gold's first wife was Marni Nixon, a singer famous for her off- screen dubbing of such stars as Deborah Kerr (in "The King and I"), Natalie Wood (in "West Side Story"), and Audrey Hepburn (in "My Fair Lady"). Nixon can also be heard on scores of space age pop recordings, such as Russ Garcia's "Sounds in the Night," Billy May's Polynesian album, and, as a member of Randy Van Horne's singers, Esquivel's "Other Worlds, Other Sounds."

Gold served as the director of the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra, and in the early 1990s, founded the Los Angeles Senior Citizens Orchestra, for which he was principal conductor.


  • Exodus: Original Soundtrack, RCA Victor LSO-1058

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