The Los Angeles Jazz Society Honors Elmer Bernstein in Conjunction with his 50th Anniversary of Film Composition

Speech: L.A. Jazz Society Introduction for Elmer Bernstein


Even if you wanted to, you couldn’t escape from Elmer Bernstein. His music has stirred you, excited you, inspired you, amused you, and kept close company with you for the past fifty years. Kept close with you, your family, and your family’s family—no matter where you live in the world.

The composer of more than 200 major films and television productions, Elmer Bernstein gave us The Man With The Golden Arm, The Magnificent Seven, To Kill A Mockingbird, Walk On The Wild Side, True Grit, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and The Ten Commandments.

How is he thought of by the other members of the music community? With deep respect and a lot of envy. Somehow, he has managed to stay on the cutting edge throughout his career. His innovative concept for The Man With The Golden Arm was a ground breaking, all-jazz score—and a Hollywood first. Previously, jazz was treated as a specialty item. He proved it could sustain mood for an entire film.

His involvement with the music community has not only been musical. As president of the Composers and Lyricists Guild, he led its long and bitter struggle with the film studios. As a governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, he was an architect of the rules of the music branch.

It has been my great pleasure to know him throughout much of his career, to serve some of the same organizations, to fight some of the same fights, and, in the case of the Motion Picture Academy, to follow in his footsteps as its music branch governor.

And it’s my further pleasure to introduce him tonight, as the Los Angeles Jazz Society proudly presents the 2001 Composer/Arranger Award to Elmer Bernstein.

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