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From Saturday’s Hero (1951) and Robot Monster (1953) to Scorsese’s elegant The Age of Innocence (1993), Elmer Bernstein – a native New Yorker and protégé of Aaron Copland – was one of the most versatile and prolific composers to emerge in the “new” Hollywood of the 1950s. Bernstein’s formative work alternated dramatic orchestral underscoring with elements of big band jazz, but the composer also possessed an appealing pop touch that resulted in several commercial hits and title tunes in the ’50s. He even composed a Broadway musical, How Now Dow Jones in 1967.
But in his prime Bernstein was, like North, often a composer of choice for high-toned literary adaptations, often for those with Southern backgrounds. A key example of this genre is his sensitive score for To Kill A Mockingbird (1962), which captures both the delicate nostalgia and heartfelt compassion of Harper Lee’s now-classic novel.