Bronisław Kaper

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Bronisław Kaper
Birth name Bronisław Kaper
Also known as Bronislau Kaper, Bronsilaw Kaper, Bronislaw Kapper, Benjamin Kapper, and Edward Kane
Born (1902-02-05)February 5, 1902
Origin Warsaw, Poland
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Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Occupation(s) Composer

Bronisław Kaper ([brɔniswaf ˈkapɛr], February 5, 1902 – April 26, 1983) was a Polish film composer who scored films and musical theater in Germany, France, and the USA. The American immigration authorities misspelled his name as Bronislau Kaper. He was also variously credited as Bronislaw Kaper, Bronislaw Kapper, Benjamin Kapper, and Edward Kane.

Kaper is now perhaps best remembered as the composer of the jazz standards "On Green Dolphin Street" (lyrics by Ned Washington) and "Invitation" (lyrics by Paul Francis Webster) which were originally the respective title tracks for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's films Green Dolphin Street (1947) and Invitation (1952). He also scored the MGM film musical Lili (1953), MGM's 1962 remake of Mutiny on the Bounty,[1] and the TV series The F.B.I. (1965–1974).


Bronisław Kaper began playing the piano at the age of six, and soon demonstrated considerable talent on this instrument. He studied composition and piano at the Warsaw Conservatory, and law at Warsaw University, in deference to his father's wishes. Soon after completing his studies, Kaper went to Berlin - then a city with many theaters and cabarets, where many artists from Eastern Europe - mainly Russia, Poland and Hungary were trying their luck.[citation needed]

In Berlin, in the late 1920s, Kaper met another young composer, the Austrian Walter Jurmann. The two decided to work as a team, first in Berlin and then, after the Nazis took power in Germany, in Paris. The emergence of sound film created a major market for their talents. In Paris, they composed music for films directed by persons who had fled Hitler.[citation needed]

In 1935, upon being offered a seven-year contract with MGM by Louis B. Mayer, Kaper and Jurmann emigrated to the United States, where they continued their work. One of their first American films was the Marx Brothers comedy A Night at the Opera (1935), for which they scored the song "Cosi-Cosa". Kaper went on to compose the music for nearly 150 Hollywood movies, and won an Oscar for the musical Lili. His score for the Orson Welles film The Stranger (1946) is an interesting example of how much the soundtrack can contribute to a classic Hollywood film. With Walter Jurmann he co-wrote the theme song for the 1936 film San Francisco, and the theme music and several scores for the Quinn Martin television series The F.B.I.[citation needed]

In 1959, Kaper composed most of the music for MGM's production on Green Mansions with Audrey Hepburn and Anthony Perkins, after MGM had asked Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos to write the score. Only some of Villa-Lobos' music was actually used in the film; much of the rest was later arranged as the secular cantata Forest of the Amazons, which Villa-Lobos recorded in stereophonic sound for United Artists Records with the Symphony of the Air. One of Kaper's last projects under his MGM contract was also his most ambitious: scoring the massive 1962 remake of Mutiny on the Bounty, involving epic sea themes and native Polynesian music (Nominated for Academy Award for Best Musical Score). Kaper's interest in melding exotic indigenous music with traditional cues continued in Lord Jim, which introduced the unique sound of gamelan orchestras to Western audiences for the first time in the mid-1960s.[citation needed]

In Los Angeles during the 1940s, Kaper was part of a significant community of exiles, including Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Bertolt Brecht, Arnold Schoenberg, Lion Feuchtwanger, Max Reinhardt, Hanns Eisler, and Berthold and Salka Viertel.

Credits on Broadway

Recordings - Film Scores

Fewer recordings of Kaper's music were made and sold in his lifetime than was the case with other classic Hollywood composers. This has changed recently, as Them! has been released on compact disc in a re-recording by the Monstrous Movie Music label. Recent changes in the copyright status of older music has made it possible for more of his film soundtracks to be released on compact disc, primarily by another specialty label, Film Score Monthly (Lili, Home from the Hill, The Swan and others).


The Bronisław Kaper Awards

The Bronisław Kaper Awards For Young Artists are held annually by the Los Angeles Philharmonic for the piano and strings instrumental categories, which alternate each year. Named in honor of Bronisław Kaper, who served for more than 15 years as a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association's Board of Directors, the Awards encourage the development of young and gifted musicians. Award winners receive monetary awards: first place receiving $2,500, second place receiving $2,000 and Most Promising Musician winning $500.

The 2007 Bronisław Kaper Awards competition has been for string players.

Selected filmography


  • Viertel, Salka, The Kindness of Strangers (New York: Rinehart,1969), pp. 250–251
  • Elisabeth Buxbaum: Veronika, der Lenz ist da. Walter Jurmann – Ein Musiker zwischen den Welten und Zeiten. Mit einem Werkverzeichnis von Alexander Sieghardt. Edition Steinbauer, Wien 2006, ISBN 3-902494-18-2


External links