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Bronislaw Kaper

This American composer made a career for himself as one of Hollywood's great film composers, working on approximately 145 films and creating many memorable songs. Bronislaw Kaper was educated at the Warsaw Conservatory in both composition and piano. He concertized as a composer and pianist in Warsaw, Berlin, Vienna, London, and Paris. His first score was for Richard Oswald's German sci-fi film Alraune (1930), aka Daughter of Evil. He continued to work through 1934 on approximately 17 other French, German, and Austrian projects, providing scores for such films as the Austrian-French film Voyage de Noces (1932), Hans Steinhoff's Madame WŁnscht Keine Kinder (Madame Wants No Children, 1933), and the memorable score for Alexis Granowsky's Le Nuits Moscovites (Moscow Nights, 1934).

Kaper began working on Hollywood movies in 1935 and created some 120 scores, sometimes under the name Edward Kane. In 1940, he joined the staff at MGM and twice had the opportunity to score versions of Mutiny on the Bounty. His first assignment was in 1935 (for which he wrote Love Song of Tahiti) and then again in 1962, one of his finest scores for which he received an Academy Award nomination (1963) for Best Score and won an Oscar and 1963 Golden Laurel for Love Song From Mutiny on the Bounty (Follow Me).

In 1935, he was assigned the outrageous Marx Brothers comedy A Night at the Opera. He was to score two more Marx Brothers classics: A Day at the Races (1937) and several songs for Go West (1940), aka Marx Bros. Go West. In 1936, Kaper wrote the songs "San Francisco" and "Happy New Year" for W.S. Van Dyke's spectacular earthquake drama/romance San Francisco, in which the composer also appeared as an uncredited actor. Kaper's assignments continued to be varied among musicals, comedies, spy, and war films. For example, in 1940 he scored the old-fashioned comedy The Captain Is a Lady, penned the song "Blue Lovebird" for the musical Lillian Russell, and composed for the powerful anti-Nazi film The Mortal Storm. Kaper's music for The Chocolate Soldier (1941) was nominated for an Oscar for Best Music Score in 1942. Several war and spy films followed in 1943 -- The Cross of Lorraine, Bataan, Above Suspicion -- alternating with the comedies Slightly Dangerous and The Heavenly Body. One of Kaper's most closely knit and thoroughgoing scores was produced for George Cukor's award-winning mystery thriller Gaslight (1944), aka Murder in Thornton Square.

Other especially significant film scores by Kaper include work for Green Dolphin Street (1947); The Red Badge of Courage (1951); Lili (1953), for which Kaper won an Oscar for Best Scoring in 1954; The Brothers Karamazov (1958) and Home From the Hill (1960), both of which were nominated for the Golden Laurel; and Richard Brooks' adventure film Lord Jim (1965). Following several television productions (Arrest and Trial, 1963; The F.B.I., 1965, etc.), Kaper's last film score was for La Puce ŗ L'Oreille (A Flea in Her Ear, 1968).