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Frank Lewin

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Composer Frank Lewin was a Hollywood mainstay during the 1960s, most notably scoring the acclaimed CBS dramas The Defenders and The Nurses. Born March 27, 1925, in Breslau, Germany, Lewin was 14 when his family relocated to Cuba in flight from the Nazis. In 1940 they settled in New York City, where he later studied composition under Felix Devo at the Baldwin Conservatory. Lewin also studied with Jack Frederick Kilpatrick and Hans David at Southern Methodist University and with Roy Harris in Logan, UT, before earning his Bachelor of Music degree from the Yale University School of Music in 1951 under Richard Donovan and Paul Hindemith. After scoring episodes of the little-remembered 1956 drama I Spy (not to be confused with the later Bill Cosby series of the same name), Lewin first earned widespread notice via the 1958 musical comedy It's Cultural. A year later, producer Herbert Brodkin tapped him to score the cop drama Brenner. In the meantime, Lewin served as a sound editor on feature films including The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery and Splendor in the Grass, pioneering compositional techniques developed specifically for theatrical Surround Sound. In 1960, he also completed his Concerto for Harmonica and Orchestra. Although composer Leonard Rosenman authored the original title theme for the Brodkin-produced legal drama The Defenders, Lewin was brought in to score the series between 1963 and 1965, bringing to television a newfound musical depth and thematic unity. Concurrently, he worked on Brodkin's medical series The Nurses, effectively introducing electronic music to prime time with his work on the episode Gismo on the EEG. After scoring Michael Roemer's 1969 cult classic feature The Plot Against Harry -- a criminally neglected film shelved for two decades -- Lewin returned to Yale, teaching composition for film from 1971 to 1992. Between 1975 and 1989 he also taught the course Music in Modern Media at the Columbia University School of Arts. In 1993 Yale premiered Lewin's Burning Bright, an acclaimed opera inspired by the John Steinbeck novel of the same title. He died of congestive heart failure at his Princeton, NJ, home on January 18, 2008. ~ Jason Ankeny

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27 March 1925 in Breslau, Germany

Years Active:

'50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s