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Max Steiner (May 10, 1888 – December 28, 1971) was an Austrian American composer of music for theatre productions and films. He probably is known best for the score he composed for Gone with the Wind and for the score and theme song for the film A Summer Place.

Steiner was born Maximilian Raoul Steiner in Viennamarker, Austria-Hungary. Steiner later claimed that he was given, and rejected, the name Walter, but there is no evidence of this in his birth register, held at the Jewish community of Vienna. Later on in his life he found out he had a half brother named James Owen, with whom he co-wrote the song Theme from A Summer Place. His paternal grandfather was Maximilian Steiner (1830-1880), the influential manager of Vienna's Theater an der Wienmarker; his father was Gabor Steiner (1858-1944), Viennese impresario and carnival and exposition manager, responsible for the Ferris wheel in the Pratermarker that would become the setting for a key scene of the film The Third Man (1949); his godfather was the composer Richard Strauss. A child prodigy in composing, Steiner received piano instruction from Johannes Brahms and, at the age of sixteen, enrolled at the Imperial Academy of Musicmarker (now known as the University of Music and Performing Arts), where he was taught by Gustav Mahler among others. His musical aptitudes enabled him to complete the school's four-year program in only two.

At the age of 16 Steiner wrote and conducted the operetta The Beautiful Greek Girl. At the start of World War I, he was working in London and was classified as an enemy alien but was befriended by the Duke of Westminster and given exit papers. He arrived in New York Citymarker in December 1914 with $32 to his name.

Steiner worked in New York for eleven years as a musical director, arranger, orchestrator, and conductor of Broadwaymarker operettas and musicals written by Victor Herbert, Jerome Kern, Vincent Youmans, and George Gershwin, among others. His credits included George White's Scandals (1922), Lady, Be Good (1924), and Rosalie (1928).

In 1929, Steiner went to Hollywood to orchestrate the European film version of the Florenz Ziegfield show Rio Rita for RKO. The score for King Kong (1933) made Steiner's reputation; it was one of the first American films to have an extensive musical score. He conducted the scores for several Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals, including Top Hat (1935) and Roberta (1935).

Steiner scored hundreds of Hollywood films, and was the most prominent composer in the music department at Warner Bros., where he wrote the famous fanfare that introduced most of the studio's films from 1937 to 1952, and was used most recently in 1984. It was also used as the fanfare for Warner Home Video from 1986 to 1997. Steiner continued to score Warner films until the mid 1960s. Until approximately 1943 he worked with noted orchestrator and composer Hugo Friedhofer; thereafter it was Murray Cutter. After his final contract with Warners ended in 1953, Steiner began to freelance, working for other studios, though he continued to return to Warners on a regular basis. His final original film score was the 1965 film Two on a Guillotine. He also wrote music for several of the television series produced by Warner Brothers.

In 1954, RCA Victor asked Steiner to prepare and conduct an orchestral suite of music from Gone with the Wind for a special LP, which was later issued on CD.

In 1963, Max Steiner began writing his autobiography, which, although completed, was never published, and is the source of a few biographical errors concerning this composer. A copy of the manuscript resides with the rest of the Max Steiner Collection at Brigham Young Universitymarker in Provo, Utahmarker.Max Steiner received 26 Academy Award nominations for his work and won three Oscars, for The Informer (1935), Now, Voyager (1942), and Since You Went Away (1944). His 26 Oscar nominations make him the second-most nominated composer in the history of the Academy Awards, behind Alfred Newman and John Williams, who each have 45.

Steiner died of congestive heart failure in Hollywood. He is entombed in the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemeterymarker in Glendale, Californiamarker.

After his death, Charles Gerhardt conducted the National Philharmonic Orchestra in an RCA Victor album of highlights from Steiner's career, titled Now Voyager. Additional selections of Steiner scores were included on other RCA classic film albums during the early 1970s. The quadraphonic recordings were later digitally remastered for Dolby surround sound and released on CD.

In 1995, Steiner was inducted posthumously into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He has a star located at 1551 Vine Street on the Walk of Fame for his contribution to motion pictures.

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