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Victor Young

Not to be confused with the actor Victor Sen Yung who was sometimes billed as Victor Young
Victor Young
Victor Young
Background information
Birth name Victor Young
Born (1900-08-08)August 8, 1900
Origin Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died November 10, 1956(1956-11-10) (aged 56)
Palm Springs, California, United States
Occupation(s) Composer, arranger, violinist, conductor
Instruments Violin, piano
Years active 1920-1956

Victor Young (August 8, 1900 – November 10, 1956)[1][2] was an American composer, arranger, violinist and conductor. He was born in Chicago.


  • Biography 1
  • Records 2
  • Radio, film, and television 3
  • Death 4
  • Broadway 5
  • Awards and nominations 6
    • Academy Awards 6.1
    • Golden Globes 6.2
    • Primetime Emmy Awards 6.3
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Young was born in Chicago on August 8, 1900, into a very musical family, his father being a member of one Joseph Sheehan’s touring Opera company. The young Victor began playing violin at the age of six, and was sent to Poland when he was ten to stay with his grandfather and study at Warsaw Imperial Conservatory (his teacher was Polish composer Roman Statkowski), achieving the Diploma of Merit. He studied the piano with Isidor Philipp of the Paris Conservatory. While still a teenager he embarked on a career as a concert violinist with the Warsaw Philharmonic under Juliusz Wertheim, assistant conductor in 1915–16.

Playing before Russian generals and nobles, while in Warsaw, he was later introduced to Czar Nicholas in St. Petersburg, and his playing so impressed the Czar that he presented him with many gifts but the revolution cut short his success in Russia. Having been connected with the court of the Czar, the Bolsheviks deemed it advisable to get rid of him, and it is only by a miracle that he escaped death, for he was already sentenced to die. After a long and tiresome escapade, he succeeded in reaching Warsaw, then Paris, and from there to the United States.[3]

He returned to Chicago in 1920 to join the orchestra at Central Park Casino. He then went to Los Angeles to join his Polish fiancée, finding employment first as a fiddler in impresario Sid Grauman's Million Dollar Theatre Orchestra then going on to be appointed concert-master for Paramount-Publix Theatres. After turning to popular music, he worked for a while as violinist-arranger for Ted Fio Rito.[4]

In 1930 Chicago bandleader and radio-star Mitchell Parish to write lyrics for what then became a much performed love song.

In the mid-1930s he moved to Hollywood where he concentrated on films, recordings of light music and providing backing for popular singers, including Bing Crosby. His composer credits include "When I Fall in Love," "Blue Star (The 'Medic' Theme)," "Moonlight Serenade (Summer Love)" from the motion picture The Star (1952), "Sweet Sue, Just You," "Can't We Talk It Over," "Street of Dreams," "Love Letters," "Around the World," "My Foolish Heart," "Golden Earrings," "Stella by Starlight", "Delilah", "Johnny Guitar" and "I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You."


Young was signed to Brunswick in 1931 where his studio groups recorded scores of popular dance music, waltzes and semi-classics through 1934. His studio groups often contained some of the best jazz musicians in New York, including Bunny Berigan, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Joe Venuti, Arthur Schutt, Eddie Lang, and others. He used first-rate vocalists, including Paul Small, Dick Robertson, Harlan Lattimore, Smith Ballew, Helen Rowland, Frank Munn, The Boswell Sisters, Lee Wiley and others. One of his most interesting recordings was the January 22, 1932 session containing songs written by Herman Hupfeld: "Goopy Geer (He Plays Piano And He Plays By Ear)" and "Down The Old Back Road", which Hupfeld sang and played piano on (his only two known vocals).

In late 1934, Young signed with Decca and continued recording in New York until mid-1936, when he relocated to Los Angeles.

Radio, film, and television

On radio, he was the musical director of The Old Gold Don Ameche Show[5] and Harvest of Stars. He was musical director for many of Bing Crosby's recordings for the American branch of Decca Records. For Decca, he also conducted the first album of songs from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz,[4] a sort of "pre-soundtrack" cover version rather than a true soundtrack album. The album featured Judy Garland and the Ken Darby Singers singing songs from the film in Young's own arrangements. He also composed the music for several Decca spoken word albums.

He received 22 Academy Award nominations for his work in film, twice being nominated four times in a single year, but he did not win during his lifetime. He received his only Oscar posthumously for his score of Around the World in Eighty Days (1956). Thus, Victor Young holds the record for most Oscar nominations before winning the first award. His other scores include Anything Goes (1936),[6] The Big Broadcast of 1937 (1936),[6] Artists and Models (1937),[6] The Gladiator, Golden Boy (1939), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), The Uninvited (1944), Love Letters (1945), So Evil My Love (1948), The Emperor Waltz (1948),[6] The Paleface (1948),[6] Samson and Delilah (1949), Our Very Own (1950), My Favorite Spy (1951), Payment on Demand (1951), The Quiet Man (1952), Scaramouche (1952), Something to Live For (1952), Shane (1953), The Country Girl (1954),[6] A Man Alone (1955), and The Conqueror (1956).

His last scores were for the 1957 films Omar Khayyam, Run of the Arrow, and China Gate, which were released after his death. The latter was left unfinished at the time of his death and was finished by his long-time friend, Max Steiner.

"The Call of the Faraway Hills", which Young had composed for the film Shane, was also used as the theme for the U.S. television series Shane. Young won a Primetime Emmy Award for his scoring of the TV special Light's Diamond Jubilee, which aired on all four American TV networks on October 24, 1954.

As an occasional bit player, Young can be glimpsed briefly in The Country Girl (1954) playing a recording studio leader conducting Bing Crosby while he tapes "You've Got What It Takes".


Young died in Palm Springs, California after a cerebral hemorrhage at age 56. He is interred in the Beth Olam Mausoleum in Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, California.[7] Dr. Max Nussbaum, rabbi of Temple Israel, Hollywood, officiated.[1] His family donated his artifacts and memorabilia (including his Oscar) to Brandeis University, where they are housed today.[8]


Awards and nominations

Academy Awards

Year Film Category Result
1939 Breaking the Ice Best Original Score Nominated
Army Girl Best Original Score Nominated
1940 Man of Conquest Best Original Score Nominated
Gulliver's Travels Best Original Score Nominated
Golden Boy Best Original Score Nominated
Way Down South Best Music (Scoring) Nominated
1941 North West Mounted Police Best Original Score Nominated
Dark Command Best Original Score Nominated
Arizona Best Original Score Nominated
Arise, My Love Best Music, Score Nominated
1942 Hold Back the Dawn Best Scoring of a Dramatic Picture Nominated
1943 Take a Letter, Darling Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture Nominated
Silver Queen Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture Nominated
Flying Tigers Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture Nominated
1944 For Whom the Bell Tolls Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture Nominated
1946 Love Letters Best Original Song for "Love Letters" (shared with Edward Heyman) Nominated
Love Letters Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture Nominated
1949 The Emperor Waltz Best Scoring of a Musical Picture Nominated
1950 My Foolish Heart Best Original Song for "My Foolish Heart" (shared with Ned Washington) Nominated
1951 Samson and Delilah Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture Nominated
1957 Around the World in Eighty Days Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture Won
Written on the Wind Best Original Song for "Written on the Wind" (shared with Sammy Cahn) Nominated

Golden Globes

Year Film Category Result
1952 September Affair Best Original Score Won
1953 The Quiet Man Best Original Score Nominated

Primetime Emmy Awards

Year Project Category Result
1955 Light's Diamond Jubilee Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Variety Program Won
Medic Best Original Music Composed for TV Nominated
Light's Diamond Jubilee Best Original Music Composed for TV Nominated


  1. ^ a b "Victor Young, Composer, Dies of Heart Attack", Oakland Tribune, November 12, 1956.
  2. ^ Slonimsky, Nicolas (1978). "Young, Victor". Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (6th ed.). New York: Schirmer Books. p. 1929.  
  3. ^ "A New Jewish Violin Genius", Daily Jewish Courier, October 14, 1920.
  4. ^ a b Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 4th edn (2006), ISBN 9780199726363
  5. ^ "Friday's Highlights" (PDF). Radio and Television Mirror 14 (3): 52. July 1940. Retrieved 6 March 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f The Oxford Companion to the American Musical (2012), ISBN 9780199891474
  7. ^ Victor Young at Find a Grave
  8. ^ "Brandeis Special Collections". Victor Young Collection. Retrieved 2008-05-30. 

External links

  • Victor Young Collection of Television Music. UCLA. Performing Arts Special Collections,
  • Victor Young at the Internet Movie Database
  • Victor Young at the Internet Broadway Database,
  • Victor Young's Web,
  • Victor Young Collection at Brandeis University
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