Film Score Pioneer Max Steiner Is Ripe for Rediscovery, with the Help of a New Biography

Composer Max Steiner, whose scores for “King Kong,” “Gone With the Wind” and “Casablanca” placed him in the movie-music pantheon, isn’t much discussed today.

He seems to belong to that old-school, pre-synthesizer world of orchestral scoring from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s.But as author Steven C.

Smith points out in his engrossing new biography of the three-time Oscar winner, “Music by Max Steiner” (Oxford University Press), the Austrian wunderkind pioneered the art of film scoring and ranks as “Hollywood’s most influential composer.”His music essentially saved Rko’s “King Kong,” the 1933 giant-ape-wrecks-Manhattan fantasy, forcefully demonstrating the power of dramatic underscore to create mood, propel the action and provide emotional support (and disproving the widely held studio-executive theory that audiences of the time would “wonder where the music came from”).Steiner went on to score some 300 films over a 35-year career, mostly for Rko and Warner Bros., although

Read full article