At age 20, he successfully applied for a scholarship to the Paris Conservatoire. While there, he attended Olivier Messiaen's classes and formally studied with Charles Koechlin, a disciple of Maurice Ravel. At night he played jazz in the Paris clubs. In 1955, Schifrin represented his country at the International Jazz Festival in Paris. After returning home to Argentina, Schifrin formed a jazz orchestra, a 16-piece band that became part of a popular weekly variety show on Buenos Aires TV.
Schifrin also began accepting other film, television and radio assignments. In 1956, Schifrin met Dizzy Gillespie and offered to write an extended work for Gillespie's big band. Schifrin completed the work, Gillespiana, in 1958. Later that year Schifrin began working as an arranger for Xavier Cugat's popular dance orchestra. While in New York in 1960, Schifrin again met Gillespie, who had by this time disbanded his big band for financial reasons.
Gillespie invited Schifrin to fill the vacant piano chair in his quintet. Schifrin immediately accepted and moved to New York City. In 1963, MGM, which had Schifrin under contract, offered the composer his first Hollywood film assignment with the African adventure, Rhino!. Schifrin moved to Hollywood late that year. To date, he has written more than 100 scores for films, television and video games.
Among the classic scores are Mission Impossible, Mannix, The Fox, Cool Hand Luke, Bullitt, Enter the Dragon, THX1138, Dirty Harry, The Cincinnati Kid, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Schifrin wrote music for the television series although the main theme was composed by Jerry Goldsmith) and The Amityville Horror. Recent film scores include Tango, Rush Hour, Rush Hour 2, Bringing Down The House, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, After the Sunset, and Abominable. He also wrote the songs for Splinter Cell. In 1970, he composed the Paramount Television logo jingle "Color I.D." It was an 8-note jingle featuring horns, woodwinds and timpani.
This music would have a long run in Paramount's TV production logos through 1987. Schifrin's "Tar Sequence" from his Cool Hand Luke score was the longtime theme for the Eyewitness News broadcasts on New York station WABC-TV and other ABC affiliates, as well as National Nine News in Australia. CBS Television used part of the theme of his St. Ives soundtrack for its golf broadcasts in the 1970s and early 1980s. To date, Lalo Schifrin has won four Grammy Awards (with twenty-one nominations), one Cable ACE Award, and received six Oscar nominations, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Read more on Last.fm.
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