By Michael Baadke
Max Steiner was born May 10, 1888, in Vienna, Austria, where he studied at the Imperial Academy of Music. At age 26, he moved to the United States, taking work as a composer and conductor on Broadway.
Following the introduction of sound to motion pictures, Steiner moved to Hollywood where he contributed the score to the 1929 RKO film Rio Rita.
During the next 35 years, his compositions appeared in a staggering 300 films, including A Star is Born (1937), Gone With the Wind (1939), Casablanca (1942), and Michael Curitz’s 1952 remake of The Jazz Singer.
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On three occasions Steiner took home the Academy Award for best musical score: for The Informer (1935), Now, Voyager (1942), and Since You Went Away (1944).
One of Steiner’s most well-known compositions is his theme from A Summer Place (1959), popularized by Percy Faith and his Orchestra.
Steiner died in Hollywood in 1971. He was honored in 1999 on a 33¢ stamp in the Hollywood Composers set (Scott 3339), part of the larger American Music series.