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Henry Mancini On Piano Jazz

Composer, arranger and pianist Henry Mancini was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1924. His father, a flutist and piccolo player, encouraged his son to pursue music, and the young Mancini began taking lessons from Philadelphia concert master and jazz enthusiast Max Adkins. Adkins was influential on the local music scene, and Mancini's cohorts in Adkins' stable included Billy Strayhorn and Jerry Fielding.

Mancini decided to pursue music and attended the Juilliard School. After a brief stint in the Army band during WWII, Mancini worked as a composer and arranger with the Glenn Miller Band. There, he met and later married the group's singer, Ginny O'Connor.

The couple settled in L.A., and after working odd jobs as an arranger and freelance musician, Mancini was eventually hired by Universal Studios. Universal proved to be a unique training ground for Mancini; there, he was called on for a multitude of jobs, from producing new arrangements of old tunes to writing original pieces for all kinds of theatrical situations. His big-band experience made him a natural choice to score The Glenn Miller Story in 1954, as well as The Benny Goodman Story in 1956.

After a successful run at Universal, Mancini left and began working as an independent arranger and composer. In 1958, he was tapped to write the score for a new television series, Peter Gunn. The theme song for the show became an immediate success; the soundtrack went to No. 1 on Billboard's charts, and Mancini received an Emmy nomination and two Grammys for the album.

In the early '60s, with a growing reputation as a composer who could write hits, Mancini made a living as a freelance composer/arranger, and during this time, he wrote such hits as "Moon River," "Days of Wine and Roses" (both with Johnny Mercer) and "The Theme from The Pink Panther."

Mancini continued composing and arranging for film and television through the early '80s. Newhart, Remington Steele and Hotel were some of the hit shows for which he penned the theme. In addition to his composition work, Mancini began actively appearing as a conductor and special guest of symphony orchestras around the world.

Throughout his career, Mancini recorded more than 90 albums, eight of which went gold. He won 20 Grammys, though he earned a whopping 72 nominations. Mancini also received a Golden Globe, two Emmys and four Oscars.

Mancini died in Beverly Hills in 1994.

Originally recorded March 14, 1985. Originally broadcast May 29, 1985.

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