Ernest Gold, born Ernst Sigmund Goldner (July 13, 1921 – March 17, 1999) was an Austrian-born American composer who is most noted for his work on the film Exodus produced in 1960, and whose contributions were recognized with Academy Award nominations and Golden Globe nominations. Gold was born on July 13, 1921, in Vienna, Austria, the son of Gustav and Elisabeth (Stransky) Goldner. Gold came from a musical family. His father played the violin, and his mother sang. His father also studied under Richard Heuberger. His paternal grandfather was Jewish, although his paternal grandmother was not. Gold said that he learned to read music before he had learned to read words. He started developing his musical talents at a young age. He studied the violin and the piano when he was only six years old and began composing music at eight. By age thirteen, Gold had written an entire opera. As a child, he always said he wanted to go to Hollywood and be a composer.
Gold would go to the movies as a teenager to listen to the musical compositions. He admired Max Steiner. Gold attended the State Academy of Music that is located in Vienna in 1938; however, he moved to the U.S. in 1938, after the Anschluss of Austria. In the United States, Gold earned money by performing piano accompaniment and writing pop songs in New York City. He studied with Otto Cesana and Leon Barzin at the National Orchestra Association. The NBC Orchestra performed Gold’s first symphony in 1939, only a year after he moved to the United States. In 1941, Gold composed a symphony that was later played at Carnegie Hall in 1945. Gold later moved to Hollywood in 1945 to work with Columbia Pictures. Gold wrote the score for an hour-long melodrama called Girl of the Limberlost (1945). After this opportunity, Gold wrote scores for other minor films. For the next ten years, he continued to work on B movies, mainly orchestrating and arranging music for western movies and melodramas.
Gold was married to singer and actress Marni Nixon in 1950. They had three children, musician Andrew Gold (composer of “Lonely Boy” and “Thank You for Being a Friend”), Martha Gold Carr, and Melanie Gold. Gold was asked by Stanley Kramer to orchestrate Not as a Stranger (1955). The music for the film was written by George Antheil. This production opened the door for Gold to work with other scores written by Antheil and orchestrate more of Kramer’s films. Gold worked on almost every film Kramer made, including A Child is Waiting and It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. Gold produced his first original score in 1958 for Too Much, Too Soon. He received a big break when he was asked to score On the Beach, a 1959 production. Antheil got sick and was unable to score the film, so he recommended Gold for the job. He won a Golden Globe in 1960 for Best Motion Picture Score for 1959’s On the Beach. This film was also nominated for a Music Academy Award that same year.
Gold was most widely recognized for his work on Exodus (1960). Gold was contracted by Otto Preminger and was able to watch the actual filming of the movie. Gold spent time in Israel to write the score. In 1960, Gold’s Exodus was nominated for a Golden Globe under the Best Original Score category. The film won an Academy Award for Best Music and a Grammy for Best Soundtrack Album. For his contributions, Gold had his name engraved in the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was the first composer to receive this honor.
In 1968, Gold even wrote a Broadway musical called I’m Solomon. He also wrote music for television including Fun with Dick and Jane. In his later life, Gold was the musical director of the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra. He also founded the Los Angeles Senior Citizens Orchestra. His classical works also included a piano concerto, a string quartet, and a piano sonata. Ernest Gold’s “Fight for Survival” from Exodus was sampled by Moby in his song Porcelain. Gold died on March 17, 1999, in Santa Monica, California, at the age of 77 from complications following a stroke.
The following work by Ernest Gold is contained in my collection:
Exodus (1960): Overture