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Moon River (Henry Mancini) Piano solo

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Moon River (Henry Mancini) Piano solo with sheet music

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Henrt Mancini

“Whatever style you have comes out of years of synthesizing your own mind. In your daily work, certain harmonies, certain intervals, certain colors in orchestration come back because they express you. Whatever came into your ear comes out of the hand in some way or another. That’s what I like about movies.

The canvas is always empty when you start and you can always go in any direction you want.” The number of films that Henry Mancini has scored—more than 70—attests to the statement of individual creativity that he made to Filmmusic Notebook in 1978.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 16, 1924, Mancini was raised in the industrial town of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, where his father was a steelworker. His introduction to music came from his father’s avocation, playing flute and piccolo in the local Sons of Italy band. Mancini, who learned his father’s instruments, has credited that amateur band with sparking his interest in both classical and new music and wrote a tribute to it in his orchestral work, Beaver Valley ’37.

In the Pittsburgh Symphony program for its premiere in May 1970, he described “our weekly ration of Puccini, Rossini, Leoncavallo and Verdi … Sunday morning at about eleven o’clock. ‘The William Tell Overture’ was my big feature number.”

moon river henry mancini sheet music

As well as Adkins, Mancini credits formal studies with composers Ernst Krenek and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and an apprenticeship with Universal’s orchestrator David Tamke. He has written a highly acclaimed textbook himself—Sounds and Scores: A Practical Guide to Professional Orchestration.

On Glenn Miller’s recommendation, Mancini joined the Army Air Forces band. Following the end of World War II, during which Miller had been killed, he began to perform and arrange with the Miller Orchestra, now led by Tex Beneke.

With his wife, Ginny O’Connor (then a vocalist with the MelloLarks), he moved to Hollywood. Radio scoring from 1947 to 1952 taught him the “craft of writing for dramatic shows,” as he later told Filmmusic Notebook. His wife’s recording job with Jimmy Dorsey’s Orchestra in 1952 led him to Universal Studios, where he soon became a staff composer and arranger. He has estimated that he worked on several hundred films before his first complete scoring assignments on the jazz-oriented movies “The Glenn Miller Story”.

He became expert enough to be named first flute in the All-State Band, and taught himself piano by imitating a neighbor’s player piano rolls. Mancini’s formal training in orchestration and arranging began at 14 when he studied with Max Adkins, then the leader of the pit band at the Stanley Theatre in Pittsburgh. He attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology and Juilliard briefly before he was drafted into the Air Force.

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