Hugo Friedhofer

Hugo Wilhelm Friedhofer (May 3, 1901 – May 17, 1981)[1] was an American composer and cellist best known for his motion picture scores.

Hugo Friedhofer
Hugo Wilhelm Friedhofer

(1901-05-03)May 3, 1901
DiedMay 17, 1981(1981-05-17) (aged 80)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Era20th century
One-Eyed Jacks - main title


Hugo Wilhelm Friedhofer was born in San Francisco, California, United States.[2] His father, Paul, was a cellist trained in Dresden, Germany; his mother, Eva König, was born in Germany.

Friedhofer began playing cello at the age of 13. After taking lessons in harmony and counterpoint at University of California, Berkeley, he was employed as a cellist for the People's Symphony Orchestra.[citation needed]

In 1929, he relocated to Hollywood, where he performed as a musician for Fox Studios productions such as Sunny Side Up (1920) and Grand Canary (1934).[1] Later, he was hired as an orchestrator for Warner Bros. and worked on more than 50 films for the studio.[1] While at Warners he was largely assigned to work with Max Steiner and, because he could speak German, Erich Wolfgang Korngold.[2] Steiner, in particular, relied on Friedhofer's skill in turning his sketches into a full orchestral score.

In 1937, Friedhofer composed his first full-length film score, The Adventures of Marco Polo.[2] Though he was still employed as an orchestrator through the 1930s and into the 1940s, he gradually received more assignments as a composer. In 1942, he composed the score for the film Chetniks! The Fighting Guerrillas.[citation needed]

In 1946, Friedhofer was hired to compose the score for the 1946 William Wyler directed film, The Best Years of Our Lives, which earned him an Oscar for Best Original Score at the 1947 Academy Awards,[2] beating Bernard Herrmann, Miklós Rózsa, William Walton and Franz Waxman.[citation needed] A new recording of the score, released in 1979 by Entr'acte Recording Society, was favorably received at the time.[citation needed]

Friedhofer was also nominated for other films, including The Bishop's Wife,[citation needed] Joan of Arc,[2] Above and Beyond,[citation needed] Between Heaven and Hell,[citation needed] Boy on a Dolphin,[citation needed] An Affair to Remember,[citation needed] and The Young Lions.[2]

Friedhofer, who was greatly admired by his colleagues, was also noted for his caustic, self-deprecating wit. When asked by fellow composer David Raksin as to the progress he was making on his score for Joan of Arc, he replied, "I've just started on the barbecue!". In reply to an interview by Page Cook, the film music critic at Films in Review magazine, who inquired about his place in the pantheon of film musicians, Friedhofer said, "I am just a fake giant among real pygmies."[citation needed]

A biographical collection of essays, letters and interviews has been edited by Linda Danly.[3]

He died at St. Vincent Hospsital from complications of a fall on May 17, 1981.[2]

Film and television workEdit

Friedhofer wrote music for 256 movies, shorts or television episodes without credit — as a music department composer of themes, additional music, stock music, incidental music or background music. He composed as a primary composer, both credited and uncredited, for 166 movies, shorts or television episodes.



See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 920. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Film Composter Hugo Friedhofer Dies". The Los Angeles Times. May 18, 1981. p. 33. Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  3. ^ Danly, Linda, ed. (September 28, 2002). Hugo Friedhofer: The Best Years of His Life: A Hollywood Master of Music for the Movies. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-4478-8.

External linksEdit