The German Upper Silesia born Franz Waxman was an important German-American composer, conductor and arranger. At the age of six, he took his first piano lessons, but should – according to the will of his father – work for the banking industry. In 1922, he left his home and the bank and moved to Dresden and then to Berlin to study music. There, he began writing music arrangements for some German movies, such as The Blue Angel (1930) with Marlene Dietrich and Fritz Lang‘s version of Liliom (1934).
Due to the rise of the Nazi regimen, Waxman had to flee from Germany and emigrated to America, where he later worked for the Universal Studios and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Waxman‘s first major success as a composer in the United States was the scoring of the horror classic The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) with Boris Karloff. He then composed the music for film classics such as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941), Hitchcock‘s Rebecca (1940), To Have and Have not (1944) with Lauren Bacall, Hitchcock‘s Suspicion (1942), Billy Wilder‘s Sunset Boulevard (1950), Rear Window (1954) and Fred Zinnemann‘s The Nun‘s Story (1959) with Audrey Hepburn. Franz Waxman wrote a total of 200 film scores and has been honored with two Academy Awards.
He died on February 24, 1967 in Los Angeles as a result of a cancer disease.