Hugo Friedhofer (1901-1981) - film composer and arranger:

Hugo Friedhofer: An Affair to Remember - soundtrack CD cover Hugo Friedhofer was initially employed as an orchestrator for established composers like Erich Korngold and many of his screen credits throughout the 1930s and 1940s were in this context. As an orchestrator he worked with Korngold on most of his films "Captain Blood", "The Sea Hawk", "The Sea Wolf", "Anthony Adverse", "The Prince and The Pauper", "The Adventures of Robin Hood" and "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex". He also carried out orchestration duties for Max Steiner on "Gone with the Wind", "Casablanca", "Now, Voyager", "Angels with Dirty Faces" and "Arsenic and Old Lace". These are just a small selection of the films he worked on so he was very busy indeed and gained a wealth of hands on experience.

Hugo Friedhofer: Seven Cities of Gold & The Rains of Ranchipur - soundtrack CD cover Composing schedules could be very tight in those days as now, and so there were frequently times when composing duties were delegated to anyone available in the music department. In many cases only the main composer would receive a screen credit, but it wasn't unknown for some films to end up with complex music credits consisting of original composers and orchestrators, plus music borrowed from earlier films and "stock" music used many times over by the same studio. So it was that people out of necessity became multi-skilled and the most talented rose to better things. So it was with Hugo W. Friedhofer who became established as a composer in his own right and then went on to become quite prolific in that role. His first full original score was for "The Adventures of Marco Polo" starring Gary Cooper in the title role, and 6 years later with the support of Alfred Newman he landed his most famous score for "The Best Years of our Lives".

Hugo Friedhofer: The Best Years of our Lives - soundtrack CD cover As a composer Friedhofer's style was very much in the romantic tradition prevalent at that time, similar to Steiner. Friedhofer was to receive many oscar nominations and he won the award with his score to "The Best Years of our Lives". Among other memorable films to which Friedhofer provided the music there is "An Affair to Remember", though most people remember this for the songs written by Harry Warren with lyrics by Harold Adamson and Leo McCarey (and sung by Marni Nixon dubbing the singing voice of Deborah Kerr) . Not many of his soundtracks are available on CD, but a few examples are listed below under "recommendations". From a film history point of view another memorable film is "Broken Arrow". Although many of the old Western cliches are still there, "Broken Arrow" is the story of the first treaty with the Apache Indians with Jeff Chandler playing the Apache leader, Cochise. The music is also quite traditional in nature, but has a strong love theme element for the relationship which develops between James Stewart's character Tom Jeffords and the Indian girl Sonseeahray played by Debra Paget.

Interestingly, although Friedhofer became virtually a full-time composer, he didn't always orchestrate his own music. Thus it was that he generated work for other orchestrators, and some of these such as Jerome Morross were able to follow in his footsteps and become composers.

Films by Hugo Friedhofer:

Hugo Friedhofer Recommendations

As previously noted Friedhofer's music is rare on CD, but the following albums can be found if you search them out:

Hugo Friedhofer Memorabilia

We are pleased to publish here some memorabilia related to Hugo Friedhofer, and we thank Steve Vertlieb for giving his permission to include them. In 1980 Steve wrote a letter of appreciation to Hugo Friedhofer. The composer responded at length and here is the response. If you click on any of the small images, a full-size version will open in a separate window or tab. (Depending on your browser the full-size image may be scaled to fit the window space, but in most cases if you click with the magnifying-glass pointer it can be further enlarged.)

Hugo Friedhofer letter to Steve Vertlieb

Hugo Friedhofer's letter to Steve Vertlieb.

Hugo Friedhofer signature (close-up)

Close-up of Hugo Friedhofer's signature on his letter to Steve Vertlieb.

Hugo Friedhofer envelope to Steve Vertlieb

The envelope from Hugo Friedhofer's letter to Steve Vertlieb.


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