Among the films for which he wrote music were Lassie Come Home (1943), The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), and Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951). Zeisl's style was essentially tonal, and conservative compared to contemporaries such as Arnold Schoenberg, and thus not totally unsuited to film music composition. But his heart lay elsewhere. At one stage he was employed to arrange the music for a highly inaccurate stage show about the life of Tchaikovsky, Song without Words. His anguish about his reduction to such work (together with the straits to which other emigré composers in America were reduced at the time) is evident in a letter written to a friend in 1945: 'Even Milhaud, Stravinsky, Tansman are struggling.
Bela Bartok died in New York of hunger! Last year I orchestrated a Tchaikowsky operetta which provided [a] living for 8 months, but why does Tchaikowsky have to be put into an operetta? No composer is important here'. Nonetheless Zeisl was able eventually to find academic appointments and time to compose in his own style. These works included a variety of chamber music, a piano concerto, a concerto for cello (written for Gregor Piatigorsky), and a setting for choir, soloists, and orchestra of Psalm 92 in Hebrew, which he entitled Requiem Ebraico, written in 1944-5 in memory of his father. His opera Hiob was never completed. Zeisl died of a heart attack while teaching in Los Angeles. Zeisl's status as a proscribed musician under the Nazi regime has been one element in a revival of interest in his music, some of which is now available on CD. Premiere performances of the Requiem Ebraico were held in Israel (under the baton of Zubin Mehta) and in London in 2006.
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