Jonathan Tunick Biography

Songwriter(1938–)
Jonathan Tunick is an American orchestrator, musical director, composer and arranger who has won all four entertainment awards: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony.

Synopsis

Orchestrator, musical director, composer and arranger Jonathan Tunick was born in New York City in 1938. He attended the Juilliard School before starting to work in theater, music, film and television. His projects include Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd and Blazing Saddles. Tunick is one of only 14 people to have received all four major entertainment awards: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony.

Early Life

Jonathan Tunick was born in New York City on April 19, 1938. While growing up on the Upper West Side, he displayed an early passion for music. In 2005, Tunick described what he had been like as a child: "I started as a clarinetist. When I was 8 or 9, our teacher would play records like Tubby the Tuba and Peter and the Wolf, and this exposure to musical instruments and orchestras created a passion for them that has dominated my life."

Tunick attended the Fiorello H. La Guardia High School of Music and Art, where he formed his own dance band. Having discovered a talent for music theory and harmony, he majored in composition at Bard College, where he also participated in the theater community. He later studied at the Juilliard School before pursuing a career as an arranger and composer.

Career Success

Tunick's stage career began with Take Five (1957). He went on to frequently collaborate with Stephen Sondheim, orchestrating shows such as Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), Pacific Overtures (1976), Sweeney Todd (1979), Merrily We Roll Along (1981), Into the Woods (1987), Passion (1994) and Putting It Together (1999). Tunick also worked on other Broadway musicals, including Promises, Promises (1968), A Chorus Line (1975) and Nick & Nora (1991).

Tunick's arrangements have been heard in movies as well. His film work includes Blazing Saddles (1974), Young Frankenstein (1974), A Little Night Music (1977), Endless Love (1981) and Sweeney Todd (2007). Tunick also composed for television shows such as Murder, She Wrote and Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories. He has acted as the arranger and conductor in recordings of famous entertainers like Judy Collins, Placido Domingo, Johnny Mathis, Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney and Bernadette Peters.

Man of Many Awards

Over his long career, Tunick has composed or arranged the music for dozens of musicals, films and TV shows. In 1997, he won his first Tony Award, given for his work on the musical Titanic. This accomplishment made Tunick one of the only 14 people who have received all four major entertainment awards—he had previously received an Academy Award for A Little Night Music (1977), an Emmy Award for Night of 100 Stars (1982) and Grammy Award for "No One Is Alone" (1988).

In addition to his "EGOT" awards, Tunick was given a Drama Desk Special Award in 1982. He has won three Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Orchestration, in 1994, 1997 and 2007. Tunick has also received several more Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominations.

Personal Life

Tunick is married to singer and actress Leigh Beery, a noted performer who received a Tony Award nomination for her portrayal of Roxana in Cyrano, in a production that also starred Christopher Plummer. Tunick and Beery split their time between New York City's Upper West Side and the Connecticut Berkshires.

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