Miklós Rózsa Poster


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Overview (2)

Born in Budapest, Austria-Hungary [now Hungary]
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA  (complications from age)

Mini Bio (1)

A child prodigy, Miklos Rózsa learned to play the violin at the age of five and read music before he was able to read words. In 1926, he began studying at the Leipzig Conservatory where he was considered a brilliant student. He obtained his doctorate in music in 1930. Moving to Paris the following year, Rózsa had much of his own chamber music performed, as well as his 'Variations on a Hungarian Peasant Song' and his 'Symphony and Serenade for Small Orchestra'. However, he soon became disenchanted with meagre wages for playing classical music in concert. Attempting to change his financial situation, Rózsa managed to secure a contract with Pathe records to compose music for use in intermissions between movies. This was to be his first step in entering the more lucrative field of film composition. In 1935, Rózsa went to London after being invited by the Hungarian Legation to write the music for a ballet. The resulting work, 'Hungaria', so impressed the director Jacques Feyder that he set up a meeting with fellow Hungarian Alexander Korda, who then commissioned him to write an opulent score for the romantic drama Knight Without Armor (1937). Rózsa later recalled having to learn to write music for films 'the hard way': "I bought one German and one Russian book on the technique of film music and everything I learned from these books was absolutely wrong! But then I had long conferences with Muir Mathieson, who was the music director and conductor for Korda, and somehow I learned."

While writing the score for The Thief of Bagdad (1940), Rózsa relocated to Hollywood where he remained gainfully employed over the next four decades. An expert at orchestration and counterpoint with a great flair for the dramatic, he often concentrated on the psychological aspects of a film. One of his innovations was the use of a theremin for the famous dream sequence in Spellbound (1945) which accompanies Salvador Dalí's transcendental nightmare images. Few composers have managed to convey suspense and tension as powerfully as Rózsa with his eerily haunting scores for some of the Golden Era's best films noir (Double Indemnity (1944), The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), The Killers (1946), The Naked City (1948)) or his lush, stirring music for spectacular epics (Quo Vadis (1951), Ivanhoe (1952), El Cid (1961)). In addition to winning three Oscars for his film work, Rózsa also continued as a prolific composer of classical music, including Violin and Piano Concertos, a Concerto for String Orchestra, a Sinfonia Concertante and Notturno Ungherese (influenced, respectively, by Stravinsky and Bartók). In 1945, he was appointed Professor of Composition at the University of Southern California where also lectured on the subject for many years.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Spouse (1)

Margaret Finlason (1943 - 27 July 1995) ( his death) ( 2 children)

Trivia (14)

The Dragnet "dum de dum dum" theme was previously used by Rozsa in his score for "The Killers" (1946). It can be prominently found in the resturant shootout scene toward the end of the film.
His Violin Concerto No. 2, written in 1956 for Jascha Heifetz and recorded that year for RCA Victor, was used as source material for the 1970 film The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
His address in the 1990s was 2936 Montcalm Avenue, Los Angeles, California.
His Violin Concerto No. 2, written in 1956 for Jascha Heifetz and recorded that year for RCA Victor, was used as source material for the film The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970).
Biography in: "American National Biography". Supplement 1, pp. 532-534. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
His father wanted him to study chemistry. When it came time for young Miklos to go off to Liepzig, they reached a compromise: if he would study chemistry, he could also study music.
After using a theremin in "The Lost Weekend," "Spellbound" (for which he won an Oscar), and "The Red House," Rozsa abandoned it, fearing it might stereotype him.
In Hollywood, Rozsa worked under contract at United Artists (for Korda, 1938-42), Paramount (1943-44), Universal (1946-48) and MGM (1949-57).
Graduated Cum Laude from the Leipzig Conservatory in 1929.
Wilder's first choice as composer for "Five Graves to Cairo" was Franz Waxman, but Warner Bros. would not release him. Wilder was happy with Rozsa's score but Paramount Music Department boss Victor Young did not, but Wilder ultimately prevailed.
Miklos Rozsa was nominated for his scores for both "Spellbound" and "The Lost Weekend" the same year. A theremin was used in both scores. "Spellbound"'s producer David O. Selznick threatened legal action against the use of the instrument in "The Lost Weekend" until it was pointed out that the mere use of a particular instrument could not be copyrighted. "Spellbound" won the Oscar although Rozsa considered "Weekend" the stronger score.
Rozsa was honored on his 80th birthday in 1987 by ASCAP with the Golden Soundtrack Award.
A "Miklos Rozsa Day" was declared by Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley on the occasion of the composer's 80th birthday accompanied by a recital of his 'Toccata Capricciosa" (Zwritten in 1977.) Rozsa received congratulatory messages from President and Mrs. Reagan, English PM Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth, Pope John Paul II, and the Hungarian ambassador.
The "neurotic waltz" theme Rosza composed for "Madame Bovary" (1949) was composed in advance of the film's starting production, an unusual practice in the Hollywood of the late 40s.

Personal Quotes (2)

Rosza considered his score for Spellbound (1945) one of his best, but "Alfred Hitchcock didn't like the music - said it got in the way of his direction. I never saw him since."
Rosza never spoke an ungrateful word about the climate for composing in Hollywood, but he "never went near the studio except when it was absolutely necessary".

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