Alex North

Alex North (actually: Isadore Soifer ) ( born December 4, 1910 in Chester ( Pennsylvania), † September 8, 1991 in Los Angeles, California ) was an American composer of film music, incidental music and concertante works.


North, born 1910 in Chester, attended the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia piano lessons with George Boyle. At 20, he entered into the Juilliard School. From 1933 to 1934 he studied at the Conservatory in Moscow. After his return to the U.S. he studied with Ernst Toch and Aaron Copland. In 1939 he toured with Anna Sololows dance troupe through Mexico, where he absorbed the local music.

In the thirties and forties North wrote music for documentary films. Benny Goodman gave him the commission for Revue For Clarinet And Orchestra ( 1946). In 1949 he composed the incidental music for Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, directed by Elia Kazan (for the film adaptation of the same name from 1951 adapted North 's score). Friendship with Kazan brought North to Hollywood, where he wrote the soundtrack to the film version of A Streetcar Named Desire. The interspersed with elements of jazz composition is regarded as seminal.

North created in the following decades, many more, often stylistically - in terms of the conventions and traditions of Hollywood romantic - modern, trained in American concert music film scores. He was at home in many genres ( Drama, Western, historical epic film, etc.). Among his best known film scores Spartacus (1960), The Misfits (1961 ), Cleopatra (1963 ), Who 's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966 ), Prizzi's Honor (1985 ), or Good Morning, Vietnam (1987). North also wrote the music for many songs, of which the Evergreen Unchained Melody, is certainly the best known. Despite fourteen Oscar nominations North never won the golden statue. In 1986 he was awarded for his life's work the Lifetime Achievement Award, the first film composer ever.

North was married twice and had three children.


Filmography (selection)