Bernstein, composer of 'Great Escape', dies at 82

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The Independent US

Hollywood lost one of its music legends last night with the death of Elmer Bernstein, 82, an Oscar-winning composer who wrote the scores for more than 200 films over five decades, including such classics as The Magnificent Seven and True Grit .

Hollywood lost one of its music legends last night with the death of Elmer Bernstein, 82, an Oscar-winning composer who wrote the scores for more than 200 films over five decades, including such classics as The Magnificent Seven and True Grit .

A publicist said Bernstein, who was born in New York, died at his home in Ojai, California, on Wednesday. He had been in poor health for some time, she said.

Trained as a pianist, he first went to Hollywood in 1950 to work for the studios. His career was sidetracked when he professed sympathy for communism and found himself, in common with many others, ostracised.

Many will remember him best for the music he wrote for The Magnificent Seven , including a galloping march that was the signature music for Marlboro cigarette advertisements. Among his more successful scores were those for The Great Escape , My Left Foot and A River Runs Through It .

Bernstein earned 14 Academy Award nominations, although only one Oscar, for the score for Thoroughly Modern Millie . He was nominated most recently for Far From Heaven starring Dennis Quaid and Julianne Moore. Other scores that won nominations include his pared-down music for To Kill a Mockingbird, rendered by piano, harp and flute. The late actor Gregory Peck - who won an Oscar for his performance - said: "I was very, very lucky with that one. Elmer's music never repeated the emotional values that were already on the screen. It extended them with insight and subtlety"

Asked how composed music for each film, Mr Bernstein replied: "If I run the rough cut often enough, over and over again, it will start to talk to me. It will tell me stuff. The tone I need will come. Then you have something that fits, instead of just slapping some wallpaper at the end."

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