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Henry Mancini

If the recognition of one's peers is the true measure of success, then few men are as successful as composer, arranger, and conductor Henry Mancini. In a career that spanned 40 years, writing for film and television, Mancini won four Oscars and twenty Grammys, the all-time record for a pop artist. For 1961's Breakfast at Tiffany's alone, Mancini won five Grammys and two Oscars. Breakfast at Tiffany's includes the classic "Moon River" (lyrics by Johnny Mercer), arguably one of the finest pop songs of the last 50 years. At last count, there were over 1,000 recordings of it. His other notable songs include "Dear Heart," "Days of Wine and Roses" (one Oscar, two Grammys), and "Charade," the last two with lyrics by Mercer. He also had a number one record and won a Grammy for Nino Rota's "Love Theme From Romeo and Juliet." Among his other notable film scores are The Pink Panther (three Grammys), Hatari! (one Grammy), Victor/Victoria (an Oscar), Two for the Road, Wait Until Dark, and 10. His television themes include "Peter Gunn" (two Grammys, recorded by many rock artists), "Mr. Lucky" (two Grammys), "Newhart," "Remington Steele," and The Thorn Birds television mini-series.

As a child, Mancini learned how to play a variety of musical instruments and as a teenager, he became enamored with jazz and big bands. He began to write arrangements and sent a few to Benny Goodman, who wrote the teenager back, encouraging him to pursue a career in music. Mancini enrolled in the Julliard School of Music in 1942, but his studies were cut short when he served in the military during World War II. After the war, he was hired by Tex Beneke, the leader of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, as a pianist and arranger. In the late '40s, he began writing scores for record and film studios, first for a recording session by the Mel-Tones, which featured his wife Ginny O'Connor, and then the Abbot & Costello film Lost in Alaska, the first movie he scored.

Lost in Alaska led to more film scores, in particular 1954's The Glenn Miller Story and 1956's The Benny Goodman Story, which both showcased his big band roots. Soon, he was working on a large number of films and television, including Orson Welles' Touch of Evil and the TV show Peter Gunn. Mancini's scores frequently straddled the line between jazz and Hollywood dramatics, making his music both distinctive and influential.

Mancini's heyday was the early '60s, when his score for Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) yielded the Oscar-winning hit single "Moon River," which instantly became a pop standard. The following year, he wrote the music for Days of Wine and Roses, which also won an Oscar for its title song. Throughout the next three decades, he continued to be one of the most successful film composers in the world, as well as a popular concert conductor. He continued working until his death in 1994; just prior to his demise, he was writing the score for the musical adaption of Victor/Victoria.

What kept Mancini's work fresh was his ability to write in almost any style imaginable and his successful experimentations with unusual sounds and instruments. In his 1989 memoir Did They Mention the Music?, Mancini's co-author Gene Lees wrote that "More than any other person, he Americanized film scoring, and in time even European film composers followed in his path," and that Mancini wrote scores that "contained almost as many fully developed song melodies as a Broadway musical." Had he not remained true to his first love, film scoring, Mancini would have more than likely made as large an impact on the Broadway stage as he made on the silver screen. ~ Kenneth M. Cassidy & Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Walt Sugalski Henry Mancini is the greatest, but so is Bert Kaempfert!
Dreamsville - Henry Mancini (from The Peter Gunn album): The title says it all - Dreamsville. - love it
I LOVE the pink panther theme!! Fun to play on guitar, but never anywhere as good as the big band thing...
Haunting drums and a edge of wild undertow in this theme music. So cool...
Great
Mancini..... . . w o w !
Never another mancini..... . . . . . . !
I used to call my husband, Edgar's father, Mr Lucky
He is a greater composer
Charade was also a fave own that movie also......ma n c i n i is one of the greats.....
Love this song........ a n d I own the movie!
Still one of my fav's after all these years, music the stands the test of time.
Which orchestra played the Theme from the tv series Route 66?
All I need to keep me revved and ready to gogogo is Peter Gunn's theme from"the best of Henry Mancini!" Ficking phenomenal
Cut my love tooth on Moon River.
Who dat tippy toeing into someone's bedroom at this late hour.
I saw Mr. Mancini in person at a concert one evening, with Jack Benny, and it was one of the greatest nights I ever spent at the Garden State Arts Center
This is not his original version??? - sounds like a re-recording . - not even the same tempo??
tsbljj
LOVING THE PANDORA EXPERIENCE. I HOPE MY ADDRESS DOES NOT GET REJECTED AGAIN?
Brilliant
Ilove them all but John Barry is the best.
blingbling55 2
Thank you Pandora for providing all of the great music from when I was a kid. It brings back great memories whenever I hear them,you can't listen to them on any radio station nowadays.
When I was a kid and teenager I thought Mancini was a square and wrote music for old fogeys. In my 30's I realized he was a genius. Some of the songs are still a bit sappy, but get a greatest hits CD, put it on a GOOD stereo (not your ipod with cheezy tinny speakers) and crank it up. I mean to levels that his live orchestra would have played.
Songs like the Pink Panther Theme, Experiment in Terror, Baby Elephant Walk and others just ROCK.
awesome, check out my station: jade paris & her exotic bachelorette pad
How about Lawrence Welk?
You omitted Exodus!
one of a kind
isasherrie
I grew up with Mancini and his Orchestra! Wonderful music
love your music
Love all his music..Great !
aprice364
This is music as it should be played. Talented Mancini!
newsbn
A lot of good memories come to mind when I listen to his music. Love it.
Love this music, Mancini is on of the best but I love them all. No radio net work can come close to just one of my stations, Thank you Pandora
muchas gracias. es hermoso
Unlike the noise on the radio today, this music is forever. I grew up in the 60s/70s, but thx to my dad, I heard big bands & mood music, not rock. Beautiful Music stations had Mancini, Mantovani, Percy Faith, Herb Alpert, Roger Williams, etc. The best ear-training ever! Add in Basie/Goodma n / M i l l e r / S h a w , and later, bop, & there's the recipe for a jazz musician, which is what I became! Thanks Dad!
This is great music! I was very fortunate to be raised for many years by my grandparents . From them I derived a love of the classics: Mancini, Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, etc, etc.
And so today I still garner a lot of attention from folks as to why I listen to these old tunes. I just laugh and say, Man, this music is great! You don't know what you're missing.
RIP to Mancini and the rest of the greats; you are all sorely missed, because they don't make em like they used to.
It was the intervention of the Mancini theme and score for PETER GUNN that, at 12 years old, I turned from rock-a-billy , rock and country to jazz. I have never looked back. While many folks my age would say that their first album was by Elvis or one of the nascent early rockers, my first album was THE MUSIC FROM PETER GUNN, my second was MORE MUSIC FROM PETER GUNN and my third was THE MUSIC FROM MR. LUCKY. I am blessed and better person because I didn't bother with rock. Go figure...
don5193
A great Thank You to my music teacher Don Wagner for introducing me to Henry Mancini and Peter Gunn way back in high school. I've been hooked on jazz ever since. I still have my original LP of Peter Gunn.
ebradley501
listening to his recordings is great but his concerts were absolutely wonderful. Never knew if he was going to play the piano (most of the time), conduct the orchestra or join the piccolo section to play Stars and Stripes Forever
Classic and timeless - best moments of my life growing up were listening to his music.
bpbuyers
how do you define someone who had an appeal for all to enjoy. never be another
I agree with all of you: if there ever was a great 20th Century music compositiona l i s t , it was Hank Mancini. We've all swooned to many of his songs. Yeah, the Peter Gunn stuff has always been among my faves!
jspenc20
Mancini was one of the greatest composer/arr a n g e r / c o n d u c t o r s of the modern era. There are many of his tunes that I love but Dreamsville (from Peter Gunn) ranks as my absolute favorite. VERY laid back!
heavywater51 3
I can't get through Moon River without shedding a tear. My favorite composer ever. :)
Henry Mancini was a true genius . . his music has forever impacted my own music. My first foray into Jazz was playing trombone along with his recordings. To this day, my spirits are lifted whenever I hear his music. Thank you Lord for the gift of his talent.
My first love on piano! Henry Mancini!
He was a genius in putting together orchestras to play his music. He used only the best . . . from Plas Johnson, the Candoli Brothers, Bob Brookmeyer,, etc. Wonderful musicians, one and all!
waymark2
One of the true artists that you can never get tired of listening too!
mantrobus4
Henry, the best of the best!
linda.mishle r
Why do we have the bio on Monica Mancini in the place of Henry Mancini's works? Is she on his albums? Just curious...
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