- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 26, 2002

Composer Franz Waxman studied at the Berlin Conservatory but forged his Oscar-winning career in Tinseltown.
The German-born Mr. Waxman was but one of a wave of composers who sought out the California shore during the 20th century as a haven for artistic freedom.
Mr. Waxman and his peers helped the golden age of cinema sound 14-karat worthy.
The influx of talent will be honored during "Journey to America: A Musical Immigration," a National Symphony Orchestra festival running Thursday through Feb. 9 at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.
The festival will include works by Michel Camilo from the Dominican Republic, Hungarian composer Bela Bartok and Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff.
The Washington Chorus will play in three different concerts, led by Music Director Robert Shafer.
In keeping with the patriotic theme, the national anthem will be played before and after each concert, but as orchestrated by a number of composers, including Walter Damrosch, Antal Dorati, Igor Stravinsky and Kurt Weill.
Film music historian John Waxman, son of Mr. Waxman, says the festival represents "the arc of contemporary music in the last century."
Mr. Waxman will take part in a post-concert panel discussion on the festival's themes Feb. 9 with NSO Music Director Leonard Slatkin and New Yorker writer Lawrence Weschler. The talk will be moderated by American University professor Alan M. Kraut, who specializes in immigration and ethnic history.
Mr. Waxman says his father's journey typified that of many immigrant composers.
"My father came from a family that didn't have much money. To support himself at the Berlin Conservatory, he got into the German film industry," he says.
The elder Waxman began his film career with UFA studio, but an anti-Semitic street mugging convinced him that he should flee to Paris, and later, the United States.
At 29, his career bloomed, his son recalls.
"It's interesting how many composers came here from other countries," he says. "Their music was embraced and became American music."
His father picked up American jazz while still in Germany and played piano in a band. Those jazz sensibilities bubbled through in his Oscar-winning scores for "Sunset Boulevard" (1950) and "A Place in the Sun" (1951).
Known for his lush, romantic melodies, Mr. Waxman scored nearly 200 films, including "Rebecca" (1940), "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," "Suspicion" (both 1941) and "The Silver Chalice" (1954).
"My father went on to be a musical chameleon, from traditional European concert music to jazz to contemporary jazz," he says.
He wasn't the only composer to incorporate the uniquely American sound of jazz into his work.
Alex North, an American of Russian ancestry, scored 1951's "A Streetcar Named Desire," which teemed with jazz motifs.
Another composer whose work will be featured, he says, is Austrian "wunderkind" Eric Korngold. The composer's Cello Concert will be played Feb. 8 by Frederick Zlotkin, son of cellist Eleanor Aller, a founding member of the famed Hollywood String Quartet, and also the brother of Mr. Slatkin.
Other immigrant composers worked both coasts, such as Max Steiner, who went on to compose the score for 1939's "Gone With the Wind."
Mr. Steiner, born in Vienna, helped create technical innovations like the "click track," which helps synchronize music to the actions on screen. He also toiled on Broadway.
Russian composer Dimitri Tiomkin, born in St. Petersburg, contributed the rich score for a film, 1946's "It's a Wonderful Life."
"How American is that?" asks Mr. Waxman.

WHAT: "Journey to America: A Musical Immigration"
WHERE: The Kennedy Center Concert Hall, F Street and New Hampshire Avenue NW
WHEN: Thursday through Feb. 9, show times vary
TICKETS: $18 to $69
PHONE: 202/467-4600

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