Maximillian Raoul Walter Steiner
was born in Vienna on May 10th, 1888. Max was the grandson of the musical impresario who discovered Strauss and brought Offenbach to Vienna. By the time he was 16 he was already conducting, composing, and continuing his studies under Gustav Mahler
. With the outbreak of the World War I, Steiner emigrated to America, where he kept busy with Broadway musicals and operettas.
One of his most beneficial American jobs was to compose the music to be conducted during screenings of the silent film The Bondman
(1915); he became a friend of William Fox, the film's producer, giving Steiner early entree into the Hollywood that would so gainfully employ him in later years. It was at RKO Pictures that Max developed his style of writing scores for films. Adapting the concept developed by Richard Wagner
, Max wrote music that became a dramatic content of the film, not just a background filler. His films Symphony of Six Million
, King Kong
, and The Informer
were examples of the leitmotif
style of music he became so very famous for. While his critics referred to this style of music as "Mickey Mousing
" the producers and directors loved his music. They could count on the fact that Steiner would make a good film better and great film superb. Shortly after being let go by RKO he was hired by David O Selznick
to begin work on the classic Gone with the Wind
. From there he was hired by Warner Bros. where he remained for the majority of his working days. One of his first assignments was a film Tovarich
part of which became the famous Warner Bros.
fanfare introduction to their films.
Max in his career produced scores for over 250 films! He received 26 nominations from the Academy and took home three Oscars.
After many years of suffering from cancer and failing eyesight Max Steiner passed away in Hollywood on December 28th 1971.
Notable Scores By Max Steiner Include: