American composer and conductor Enrico Nicola “Henry” Mancini was born in Cleveland on April 16 in 1924.But he grew up in Pennsylvania, where he played the flute flute with his father in an Italian immigrant music group called “Sons of Italy”,
At age eight, Mancini started to learn to play the piccolo.
He later studied piano and orchestral arrangement under Pittsburgh concert pianist and Stanley Theatre, currently called Benedum Center, conductor Max Adkins. Adkins also introduced Mancini to the up and coming bandleader Benny Goodman. So additionally to producing arrangements for the Stanley Theatre bands, Mancini also wrote one for Benny Goodman.
In 1942 Mancini went to the Juilliard School of Music in New York after a year at Carnegie Tech, but he never finished his studies. He was drafted to fight in World War II, in 1943 when he turned 18, and served in both the Army air forces and the infantry. During the war, he got to know some musicians who played in Glenn Miller’s Army Air Corps Band.
Mancini was first assigned to the 28th Air Force Band before being reassigned overseas to the 1306th Engineers Brigade in France. In 1945 he ,participated in the liberation of the Austrian Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp.
After the war, Mancini arranged music and played piano for Miller’s band.
He was nominated for 18 Oscars and won four; in addition, he won 20 Grammys and 2 Emmys, made over 50 albums and had 500 works published. Mancini worked extensively together with Blake Edwards ,initially on TV’s Peter Gunn (1958), then on Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), which won him two Oscars; he won further Oscars for the titles song for Days of Wine and Roses (1962) and the score for Victor Victoria (1982); he will be best-remembered for the theme tune for The Pink Panther.
Mancini died of pancreatic cancer in Los Angeles on June 14, 1994. He was working at the time on the Broadway stage version of Victor/Victoria, which he never saw on stage. Mancini was survived by his wife of 43 years, singer Virginia “Ginny” O’Connor, with whom he had three children.
Finishing the blog with the theme for the Pink Panther and Moon River of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The song I have often sung for my daughter as a lullaby.
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