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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Louis Levy
Louis Levy

Louis Levy (20 November 1894 – 18 August 1957) was an English film composer and music director, who worked in particular on Alfred Hitchcock and Will Hay films. He was born in London and died in Slough, Berkshire.

Early life

As a child Louis Levy played the violin, beginning with a toy violin that his father bought him at the age of seven. He later became the pupil of Guido Papini but due to his parents' limited means, ended his studies with Papini and began a period of self-study. This led to him gaining a scholarship at the London College of Music. Papini refused to allow Levy to study under anyone else, so resumed his tuition, this time free of charge.[1]

Career

He started his career in 1910 arranging and performing music for silent films.[2] In 1916 he became musical director for the New Gallery Cinema in London. In 1921, he went to the Shepherd’s Bush Pavilion as Music Chief and is credited with being the first to develop the theme song in movies.[3]

At the beginning of talkies, he joined the Gaumont British studios at Shepherd’s Bush, where he became the head of the music department for all Gainsborough Pictures productions from 1933 onwards.[2] The rich sounds emanating from his large orchestra are all the more impressive when one realises that electrical sound industry was barely ten years old. He worked in particular on Alfred Hitchcock and Will Hay films, including scores for The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes.[4]

Through the sheer necessity of having to produce so much music he established his own studios (The Levy Sound Studios at 73 New Bond Street) in the 1930s.[5] He later had a long running BBC radio series Music From the Movies, which started in 1936 and went on until the 1950s.[6] The Music From the Movies March, composed by Levy, was the theme tune for the radio show, and also opened all of the Gaumont newsreels of the time.[3]

In 1948 Levy became general musical director for the Associated British Picture Corporation,[1] and during the 1950s he was head of music at Elstree Studios, where the films he worked on included Moby Dick (1956).[7] Unlike his counterparts at other studios Muir Mathieson and Ernest Irving, who cultivated art composers to contribute film scores, Levy operated a department of specialised staff composers and arrangers, closer to the Hollywood system. Among the talented arrangers he employed were Peter Yorke (who adapted the Levy sound for his own successful post-war concert orchestra) and Bretton Byrd, who was his chief music editor at Gaumont British.[3]

Partial filmography

(Credited as sole composer unless otherwise noted)

Further reading

  • Levy, Louis. Music for the Movies, autobiographical reminiscences (1948)[8]
  • Huntley, John. British Film Music (1947) (with contributions by Louis Levy)

References

  1. ^ a b Obituary, The Times, 19 August 1957, p 12
  2. ^ a b Musiker, Naomi; Musiker, Reuben (February 25, 2014). Conductors and Composers of Popular Orchestral Music: A Biographical and Discographical Sourcebook. Routledge. ISBN 9781135917777 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ a b c Donnelly, K. (August 16, 2007). British Film Music and Film Musicals. Springer. ISBN 9780230597747 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ "Louis Levy". BFI.
  5. ^ Robert Farnon Society: Memories of Levy's Sound Studios
  6. ^ "Music from the Movies". April 4, 1946. p. 15 – via BBC Genome.
  7. ^ Notes to Marco Polo CD MP 5050 (1998)
  8. ^ National Library of Australia catalogue entry

External links

This page was last edited on 5 January 2021, at 06:43
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