Hugo Riesenfeld

Hugo Riesenfeld (January 26, 1879 – September 10, 1939) was a Jewish Austrian-American composer. As a film director, he began to write his own orchestral compositions for silent films in 1917, and co-created modern production techniques where film scoring serves an integral part of the action. Riesenfeld composed about 100 film scores in his career. His most successful compositions were for Cecil B. DeMille's Joan the Woman (1917), The Ten Commandments (1923) and The King of Kings (1927); D. W. Griffith's Abraham Lincoln (1930); and the original scores to F. W. Murnau's Sunrise (1927) and Tabu (1931). Hugo Riesenfeld's musical career began at the age of seven with a violin study at the Conservatory of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, where he graduated at the age of 17 in piano, violin and composition degrees. He briefly played in the Vienna Philharmonic. By the end of the 19th century, he was playing with Arnold Schönberg, Arthur Bodanzky, and Edward Falck in a local string quartet. In 1907, Riesenfeld emigrated to New York City, where he worked until 1911 as concert-master for Oscar Hammerstein's Manhattan Opera Company.


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