Henry Mancini (1924-1994) was one of the most versatile talents in contemporary music. During his lifetime he was nominated for 72 Grammy Awards, winning 20. Mancini was also nominated for 18 Academy Awards, winning 4, as well as a great variety of other awards and honors.
Henry Mancini created many memorable film scores, including Touch of Evil, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Pink Panther, Days of Wine and Roses, Hatari!, Charade, Victor/Victoria and Blake Edwards’ 10. For television he wrote themes and scores for Peter Gunn, Mr. Lucky, Newhart, Remington Steele and The Thorn Birds. Mancini recorded over 90 albums with styles varying from big band to jazz to classical pop, eight of which were certified gold by The Recording Industry Association of America.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio on April 16, 1924, Henry Mancini was introduced to playing music and the flute at the age of eight by his father, Quinto. The family moved to Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, where, at the age of twelve, Mancini took up piano and became interested in arranging. After graduating from high school in 1942, Mancini enrolled in New York’s Juilliard School of Music. His studies were interrupted the next year when he was drafted. He served overseas in the Air Force and later the infantry.
In 1946, Mancini joined the Glenn Miller–Tex Beneke Orchestra. It was there he met the future Mrs. Henry Mancini, Ginny O’Connor, who was one of the original members of Mel Tormé’s Mel Tones. Ginny and Henry were married in Hollywood the following year.
In 1952 Mancini joined the Universal-International Studios music department. During the next six years, he contributed to over 100 films, most notably The Glenn Miller Story and Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil. Mancini left the studio in 1958 to work as an independent composer/arranger. Soon after, he scored the television series Peter Gunn for writer/producer Blake Edwards, commencing a close relationship that lasted over 30 years and produced 26 films.
Mancini was an in-demand concert performer, conducting over 50 engagements a year, resulting in over 600 symphony performances. Among the symphony orchestras he conducted were the London Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, the Boston Pops, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Mancini’s deep love of music and support of young musicians is evident in the scholarships and fellowships he established at top music schools. Many up-and-coming composers, conductors and arrangers have benefitted from Mancini’s programs at Juilliard School of Music, UCLA, USC, the Henry Mancini Institute at UM and at The American Federation of Music’s “Congress of Strings.”
Henry Mancini died in 1994. His wife Ginny, and their three children, Chris, Monica and Felice, and three grandchildren, Christopher, Leila and Luca, continue the Mancini Legacy.
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