1924 – Henry Mancini is born in Cleveland. He goes on to win four Oscars and 20 Grammy Awards, including the first best album Grammy for the 1958 album “The Music from Peter Gunn.”
Mancini was born Enrico Nicola Mancini in the Little Italy neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the steel town of West Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. His parents emigrated from the Abruzzo region of Italy. Mancini’s father, Quinto, was a steelworker, who made his only child begin flute lessons at the age of eight. When Mancini was 12 years old, he began piano lessons. Quinto and Henry played flute together in the Aliquippa Italian immigrant band, “Sons of Italy”. After high school, Mancini attended the renowned Juilliard School of Music in New York. In 1943, after roughly one year at Juilliard, his studies were interrupted when he was drafted into the army. In 1945, he participated in the liberation of a South German concentration camp.
Upon discharge, Mancini entered the music industry and became a pianist and arranger for the newly-formed Glenn Miller band, led by Tex Beneke. His greatest musical passions have been for swing and jazz. After World War II, Mancini broadened his composition, counterpoint, harmony and orchestration skills during studies with two acclaimed “serious” concert hall composers, Ernst Krenek and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.
In 1952, Mancini joined the Universal Pictures music department. During the next six years, he contributed music to over 100 movies, most notably The Creature from the Black Lagoon, It Came from Outer Space, Tarantula, This Island Earth, The Glenn Miller Story (for which he received his first Academy Award nomination), The Benny Goodman Story and Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil. Mancini left Universal-International to work as an independent composer/arranger in 1958. Soon after, he scored the television series Peter Gunn for writer/producer Blake Edwards, the genesis of a relationship which lasted over 35 years and produced nearly 30 films. Together with Alex North, Elmer Bernstein, Leith Stevens and Johnny Mandel, Henry Mancini was one of the pioneers who introduced jazz music into the late romantic orchestral film and TV scores prevalent at the time.
Mancini’s scores for Blake Edwards included Breakfast at Tiffany’s (with the standard, “Moon River”), and with “Days of Wine and Roses,” “Experiment in Terror,” The Pink Panther, (and all of its sequels), The Great Race, The Party, “Victor/Victoria”. Another director with a longstanding partnership with Mancini was Stanley Donen (Charade, Arabesque, Two for the Road). Mancini also composed for Howard Hawks (Man’s Favorite Sport, Hatari! – which included the well-known “Baby Elephant Walk”), Martin Ritt (The Molly Maguires), Vittorio de Sica (Sunflower), Norman Jewison (Gaily Gaily), Paul Newman (Sometimes a Great Notion, The Glass Menagerie), Stanley Kramer’s (Oklahoma Crude), George Roy Hill(The Great Waldo Pepper), Arthur Hiller (Silver Streak), and Ted Kotcheff (Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?), and others. Mancini’s score for the Alfred Hitchcock film, Frenzy (1972), was rejected and replaced by Ron Goodwin’s work.
Mancini scored many TV movies, including The Thorn Birds and The Shadow Box. He wrote his share of television themes, including Mr. Lucky, NBC News Election Night Coverage, “NBC Mystery Movie,” What’s Happening!!, Newhart, Remington Steele, Tic Tac Dough (1990 version) and Hotel. Mancini also composed the “Viewer Mail” theme for Late Night with David Letterman.
Mancini recorded over 90 albums, in styles ranging from big band to classical to pop. Eight of these albums were certified gold by The Recording Industry Association of America. He had a 20 year contract with RCA Records, resulting in 60 commercial record albums that made him a household name composer of easy listening music.
Mancini’s range also extended to orchestral and ethnic scores (Lifeforce, The Great Mouse Detective, Sunflower, “Tom and Jerry: The Movie”, Molly Maguires, The Hawaiians), and darker themes (“Experiment In Terror,” “The White Dawn,” “Wait Until Dark,” “The Night Visitor”).
Mancini was also a concert performer, conducting over fifty engagements per year, resulting in over 600 symphony performances during his lifetime. Among the symphony orchestras he conducted are the London Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, the Boston Pops, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He appeared in 1966, 1980 and 1984 in command performances for the British Royal Family. He also toured several times with Johnny Mathis and with Andy Williams, who had sung many of Mancini’s songs.
Mancini had experience with acting and voice roles. In 1994 he made a one-off cameo appearance in the first season of the sitcom series Frasier, as a call-in patient to Dr. Frasier Crane’s radio show. Mancini voiced the character Al, who speaks with a melancholy drawl and hates the sound of his own voice, in the episode “Guess Who’s Coming to Breakfast?” Mancini also had an uncredited performance as a pianist in the 1967 movie Gunn, the movie version of the series Peter Gunn, the score of which was originally composed by Mancini himself.
Mancini died at the age of 70 in Beverly Hills/Los Angeles, California of pancreatic cancer. He was working at the time on the Broadway stage version of Victor/Victoria. At the time of his death, Mancini was married to singer Virginia “Ginny” O´Connor, with whom he had three children. Ginny Mancini went on to found the Society of Singers a non profit organization which benefits the health and welfare of professional singers worldwide. Additionally the Society awards scholarships to students pursuing an education in the vocal arts and holds the annual Ella Awards.
In 1996, the Henry Mancini Institute, an academy for young music professionals, was founded by Jack Elliott in Mancini’s honor, and later under the direction of composer-conductor Patrick Williams. By the early 2000s, however, the institute could not sustain itself and closed its doors on December 31, 2006. However, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers(ASCAP) Foundation “Henry Mancini Music Scholarship” has been awarded annually since 2001.
Theme of Moon River composed by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer
Problems listening to the file? See media help.Mancini was nominated for an unprecedented 72 Grammys, winning 20 Additionally he was nominated for 18 Academy Awards, winning four. He also won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for two Emmys.
Mancini won a total of four Oscars for his music in the course of his career. He was first nominated for an Academy Award in 1955 for his original score of The Glenn Miller Story, on which he collaborated with Joseph Gershenson. He lost out to Adolph Deutsch and Saul Chaplin’s Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. In 1962 he was nominated in the Best Music, Original Song category for “Bachelor in Paradise” from the film of the same name, in collaboration with lyricist Mack David. That song did not win. However, Mancini did receive two Oscars that year: one in the same category, for the song “Moon River” (shared with lyricist Johnny Mercer), and one for “Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture” for Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The following year, he and Mercer took another Best Song award for “Days of Wine and Roses,” another eponymous theme song. His next eleven nominations went for naught, but he finally garnered one last statuette working with lyricist Leslie Bricusse on the score for Victor/Victoria, which won the “Best Music, Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Best Adaptation Score” award for 1983. All three of the films for which he won were directed by Blake Edwards. His score for Victor/Victoria was adapted for the 1995 Broadway musical of the same name.
Discography (non-soundtracks, incomplete)
The Versatile Henry Mancini, Liberty LRP 3121
The Mancini Touch, RCA Victor LSP 2101
The Blues & the Beat, RCA Victor LSP-2147
Mr. Lucky Goes Latin, RCA Victor LSP-2360
Our Man in Hollywood, RCA Victor LSP-2604
Uniquely Mancini, RCA Victor LSP-2692
The Best of Mancini, RCA Victor LSP-2693
Mancini Plays Mancini, RCA Camden CAS-2158
Concert Sound of Henry Mancini, RCA Victor LSP-2897
Dear Heart and Other Songs, RCA Victor LSP-2990
Theme Scene, RCA Victor LSP-3052
Debut Conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra, RCA Victor LSP-3106
The Best of, Vol. 3, RCA Victor LSP-3347
The Latin Sound of Henry Mancini, RCA Victor LSP-3356
A Merry Mancini Christmas, RCA Victor LSP-3612
Pure Gold, RCA Victor LSP-3667
Mancini Country, RCA Victor LSP-3668
Mancini ’67, RCA Victor LSP-3694
Music of Hawaii, RCA Victor LSP-3713
Brass on Ivory, RCA Victor LSP-3756
A Warm Shade of Ivory, RCA Victor LSP-3757
Big Latin Band, RCA Victor LSP-4049
Six Hours Past Sunset, RCA Victor LSP-4239
Theme music from Z & Other Film Music, RCA Victor LSP-4350
Big Screen-Little Screen, RCA Victor LSP-4630
Music from the TV Series “The Mancini Generation”, RCA Victor LSP-4689
Brass, Ivory & Strings (with Doc Severinsen), RCA APL1-0098
The Theme Scene, RCA AQLI-3052
Country Gentleman, RCA APD1-0270 (Quadraphonic)
Hangin’ Out, RCA CPL1-0672
Symphonic Soul, RCA APD1-1025 (Quadraphonic)
Mancini’s Angels, RCA CPL1-2290
(with Johnny Mathis), The Hollywood Musicals, Columbia FC 40372
The Pink Panther Meets Speedy Gonzales, Koch Schwann CD
The Legendary Henry Mancini, BMG Australia 3 CD set
Soundtrack Albums (incomplete, CD and LP)
Many of Mancini’s “soundtracks” are actually “Music from …,” which allowed him to rearrange the music to be more accessible and to release records without the expense of paying studio orchestra fees.
Music from Peter Gunn, RCA Victor LSP 1956
More music from Peter Gunn, RCA Victor LSP 2040
Music from Mr. Lucky, RCA Victor LSP 2198
Bachelor in Paradise, Film Score Monthly FSMCD vol. 7 Nr. 18
Breakfast at Tiffany’s, RCA Victor LSP-2362
Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, Intrada special collection vol. 11
Experiment in Terror, RCA Victor LSP-2442
Hatari!, RCA Victor LSP-2559
Charade, RCA Victor LSP-2755
The Pink Panther, RCA Victor LSP 2795
The Great Race, RCA Victor LSP-3402
Arabesque, RCA Victor LSP-3623
What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?, RCA Victor LSP-3648
Two for the Road, RCA Victor LSP-3802
Gunn, RCA Victor LSP-3840
The Party, RCA Victor LSP-3997
Me, Natalie, Columbia OS 3350
Visions of Eight, RCA Victor ABL1-0231
The Great Waldo Pepper, MCA 2085
Darling Lili, RCA LSPX 1000
Gaily Gaily, UAS 5202
The Glass Menagerie, MCA MCAD 6222
The Great Mouse Detective, Varèse Sarabande VSD 5359
The Hawaiians, UAS 5210
Lifeforce, BSXCD 8844
The Molly Maguires, Bay Cities BCD 3029
Oklahoma Crude, RCA APL1 0271
The Party, RCA BVCP 1030
The Pink Panther Strikes Again, UA-LA 694
Revenge of the Pink Panther, EMI 791113-2
Santa Claus – The Movie, EMI SJ 17177
Silver Streak, Intrada special collection vol. 5
Sometimes a Great Notion (1971 film), Decca DL 79185
Son of the Pink Panther, Milan 21-16461-2
Sunflower, SLC SLCS 7035
The Thief Who Came to Dinner, WB BS 2700
The Thorn Birds, Varèse Sarabande 30206 65642 8
Tom and Jerry – The Movie, MCA MCD 10721
Touch of Evil, Movie Sound MSCD 401
Victor/Victoria, GNP Crescendo GNPD 8038
W.C. Fields and Me, MCA 2092
Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe, Epic SE 35692
A Change of Seasons
Music from Condorman, 1981
Top Hat Music from the films of Astaire and Rodgers, 1992 BMG Music
Mancini, Henry: Sounds And Scores: a practical guide to professional orchestration (Book on orchestration of popular music, 1962)
Mancini, Henry: Did they mention the music? (Autobiography, with Gene Lees, 1989)
Thomas, Tony: Music For The Movies (1973)
Thomas, Tony: Film Score (1979)
Larson, Randall: Henry Mancini: On Scoring Lifeforce and Santa Claus (interview)(in: CinemaScore #15, 1987)
Büdinger, Matthias: An interview with Henry Mancini (in: Soundtrack, vol. 7, No. 26, 1988)
Büdinger, Matthias: Henry Mancini (in: Soundtrack, vol. 13, No. 50, 1994)
Büdinger, Matthias: Henry Mancini remembered (in: Soundtrack, vol. 13, No. 51)
Büdinger, Matthias: Whistling Away The Dark. In: Film Score Monthly # 45, p. 7
Büdinger, Matthias: Henry Mancini 1924-1994. In: Film Score Monthly # 46/47, p. 5
Büdinger, Matthias: Feeling Fancy Free (in: Film Score Monthly vol. 10, No. 2)
Brown, Royal S.: Overtones and undertones – reading film music (1994)