Close Notification

Your cart does not contain any items

Music by Max Steiner

The Epic Life of Hollywood's Most Influential Composer

Steven C. Smith



We can order this in for you
How long will it take?


Oxford University Press
15 May 2020
Film, TV & Radio; Musicals; Individual composers & musicians, bands & groups; Biography: arts & entertainment; Music industry
During a seven-decade career that spanned from 19th century Vienna to 1920s Broadway to the golden age of Hollywood, three-time Academy Award winner Max Steiner did more than any other composer to introduce and establish the language of film music. Indeed, revered contemporary film composers like John Williams and Danny Elfman use the same techniques that Steiner himself perfected in his iconic work for such classics as Casablanca, King Kong, Gone with the Wind, The Searchers, Now, Voyager, the Astaire-Rogers musicals, and over 200 other titles. And Steiner's private life was a drama all its own. Born into a legendary Austrian theatrical dynasty, he became one of Hollywood's top-paid composers. But he was also constantly in debt--the inevitable result of gambling, financial mismanagement, four marriages, and the actions of his emotionally troubled son. Throughout his chaotic life, Steiner was buoyed by an innate optimism, a quick wit, and an instinctive gift for melody, all of which would come to the fore as he met and worked with luminaries like Richard Strauss, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, the Warner Bros., David O. Selznick, Bette Davis, Frank Sinatra, and Frank Capra. In Music by Max Steiner, the first full biography of Steiner, author Steven C. Smith interweaves the dramatic incidents of Steiner's personal life with an accessible exploration of his composing methods and experiences, bringing to life the previously untold story of a musical pioneer and master dramatist who helped create a vital new art with some of the greatest film scores in cinema history.
By:   Steven C. Smith
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 238mm,  Width: 163mm,  Spine: 35mm
Weight:   846g
ISBN:   9780190623272
ISBN 10:   0190623276
Series:   Cultural Biographies
Pages:   424
Publication Date:   15 May 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Prologue PART ONE The Little Prince 1 Elegant Revolutions 2 Heir Apparent PART TWO The Wanderer 3 Come Over Here 4 Stairway to Paradise 5 roaring in the Twenties PART THREE The Apprentice 6 Where Does the Music Come From? 7 Revolution 8 Startling, Unusual Sensation 9 Orchids in the Moonlight 10 Working Night and Day PART FOUR Emperor 11 Monarch of Sound 12 Exodus 13 Battles Won and Lost 14 The Right Place to Be 15 Fighting for Steiner 16 The South is Dead 17 Breaking Point 18 Voyage into Fog 19 Yours, Herman Hupfeld 20 Sucker 21 Aur Revoir and Bonjour 22 Indian Summer 23 Falling Star PART FIVE Twilight of the Gods 24 A Jewish Aloha 25 Goetterdammerung 26 Coda

Steven C. Smith is a four-time Emmy nominated journalist, writer, and producer of over 200 documentaries about music and cinema, including The Sound of a City: Julie Andrews Returns to Salzburg (2015); A Place for Us: West Side Story's Legacy (2011); The Lure of the Desert: Martin Scorsese on Lawrence of Arabia (2013); Passion, Prejudice and South Pacific: Creating an American Masterpiece (2009); and Thou Shalt Not! Sex, Sin and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood (2008). He is the author of A Heart at Fire's Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann (1991).

Reviews for Music by Max Steiner: The Epic Life of Hollywood's Most Influential Composer

Movie lovers and film music aficionados will forever be in Steven C. Smith's debt for telling the full story of Max Steiner's life and career. Gracefully written, this sympathetic portrait captures the prodigious composer's personality and documents his many milestone achievements, from King Kong to Gone With The Wind and Casablanca. I loved reading it. -Leonard Maltin, Film Critic and Historian Smith's life of Max Steiner moves like an express train, every page crammed with interest and scrupulous research, both historical and musical. This is genuine biography in which a fascinating subject has met his authorial match. Smith has granted Steiner the long overdue biography he richly deserves. -Nicholas Meyer, Author and Filmmaker The world owes Steven C. Smith an enormous debt of gratitude for this book. Here, finally, is the life of a man whose influence is felt every day in the unbroken line from Wagner, Mahler, and Strauss into the scores of everyone who attempts to compose orchestral music for the movies today. Years of ignorance have been washed away to reveal this great composer's story, and the history of Vienna in Hollywood-the very creation of the Hollywood Sound itself-will never be the same. Smith tells this extraordinary story to the world-and for the first time. -John Mauceri, Founding Director, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and author of For the Love of Music-A Conductor's Guide to the Art of Listening Smith brilliantly captures in rich and colorful detail the life and work of composer Max Steiner, whose contributions to the film industry were nothing short of extraordinary. Steiner's music set the template for all film composers who followed. Whenever I see King Kong in which my mother Fay Wray starred, it's the music that stirs in me feelings of terror and tenderness and which were integral to the film becoming a classic. Now finally, we have the story of the genius behind that music. -Victoria Riskin, author, Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir, and Former President, Writers Guild of America West Steven Smith has mined the vast source material and unearthed an array of evocative period photos, weaving these core elements into a definitive account of Hollywood's most prolific and widely celebrated film composer. This marvelous chronicle of Max Steiner's life, from his Viennese origins to his spectacular career within the movie industry, is at once deeply absorbing and painstakingly thorough. -Noah Isenberg, author of We'll Always Have Casablanca: The Life, Legend, and Afterlife of Hollywood's Most Beloved Movie After his definitive biography of Bernard Herrmann, Steven C. Smith returns with a spectacularly researched and beautifully written book that returns Max Steiner to his proper place in film history after a long period of neglect. It reminds us of the composer's many scoring innovations while also surprising us with the largely untold saga of his sometimes charmed, sometimes tragic life. -Jon Burlingame, author, The Music of James Bond In colorful prose and with finely detailed scenes...Smith adeptly details the process of making films and Steiner's involvement in scoring them...Filled with great detail of early Hollywood music, Smith's biography serves as the definitive study of the composer. -Publishers Weekly Smith has a keen eye for detail and a genuine appreciation for his subject, deftly combining details of Steiner's personal life along with compelling accounts of his work with a roster of Hollywood notables and discussions of his composing methods. VERDICT: This well-crafted biography will have film buffs applauding. -Carolyn M. Mulac, Library Journal

See Also