William Perry

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Birthday: Dec 16, 1962
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William Perry has enjoyed two sometimes interlocking careers, most visibly as a composer for the concert hall and for motion pictures and theater, and as an Emmy-winning television producer. Born in Elmira, NY, in 1930, Perry was a natural composer and wrote and produced his first stage musical, a work entitled On the Double, in 1945, when he was 15 years old. As an undergraduate at Harvard -- where his teachers included Paul Hindemith, Walter Piston, and Randall Thompson -- he organized his own orchestra in Boston, which was devoted to the presentation of new works. He later relocated to Europe, where he composed for the stage. Perry wrote scripts for early television and was later employed by the Museum of Modern Art as head of the music department and composer-in-residence, where part of his job included composing (and performing) new scores for several hundred silent films owned and programmed by the museum. His work at the museum also led Perry to produce the Emmy-winning television series The Silent Years, in conjunction with The Killiam Collection, one of the world's largest and most widely distributed libraries of silent films -- his scores for such varied silent-era works as The General, The Beloved Rogue, The Iron Horse, The Mark of Zorro, The Great K&A Train Robbery, Tumbleweeds, and Pandora's Box have since become the most familiar accompaniment to those films, in theatrical and home video presentations. Later in the decade, he produced two award-winning series devoted to poetry, Anyone for Tennyson and The Master Poets.But it was his work in connection with adaptations of the writings of Mark Twain (aka, Samuel L. Clemens) that would dominate much of Perry's professional activities. The latter was a mission that Perry was all but born to, his birthplace of Elmira, NY, having been the home for many years, from the 1860s onward, to Clemens, who is regarded as the most illustrious citizen in the city's history. Starting with the 1980 television production Life on the Mississippi and continuing with The Mysterious Stranger, The Innocents Abroad, Pudd'nhead Wilson, The Private History of a Campaign That Failed, and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Perry wrote the scores for (and also usually produced) these adaptations. His 1987 stage work Mark Twain: A Musical Biography has also found popularity as a performance piece and a cast recording. His 1986 Broadway musical Wind in the Willows received three Tony Award nominations, but it is the Twain-related works that remain his most familiar musical endeavors. Although Perry has written many works for the concert hall, including trumpet concerto and an orchestral nocturne, his film scores have achieved something more than a cult following, mostly owing to their highly melodic nature and flowing lyricism. Despite the fact that his musical training began in the postwar era, he has proved to be an admirable successor as a film composer to the likes of Alfred Newman and Dimitri Tiomkin. And although most of his film-related work dates from the 1980s, he has retained his focus on the field in the twenty first century; in 2008, he premiered a concert work entitled Six Title Themes in Search of a Movie. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

Filmography

MOVIES

CREDIT
No Score Yet UFOs: 50 Years of Denial Actor 2005

TV

CREDIT
No Score Yet According to Jim
2001-2009
Himself
  • 2009
No Score Yet The A-Team
1983-1987
  • 1986

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