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January 16, 2007
Composer/Arranger Harvey Cohen Dead at 55
Beloved music maker had diverse career in film, TV, big band
Harvey R. Cohen, two-time Emmy-winning composer, arranger and big-band leader, died Sunday, January 14 after suffering a heart attack at his home in Agoura Hills, California. He was 55.
Cohen received his two Emmys for music in the animated series Disney's Aladdin in 1995 and The Adventures of Batman and Robin in 1996. He earned four more Emmy nominations, including two for the animated series Casper, one for Batman: The Animated Series, and one for music direction on the Patti LaBelle PBS special, Musical Comedy Tonight III.
Cohen scored dozens of episodes of other animated shows throughout the '90s, including Superman, Tiny Toon Adventures and Taz-Mania for Warner Bros., and Disney's Little Mermaid, Disney's Gargoyles, Goof Troop and Bonkers for Disney.
He scored Santa vs. The Snowman, the first IMAX 3-D animated feature, in 2002, and composed the music for the direct-to-video Beauty and the Beast sequel Belle's Magical World in 1998.
Cohen also contributed music to many live-action shows in the '80s and '90s, including Dallas, Knots Landing, Growing Pains, Murphy Brown and The Wonder Years, and orchestrated for several film composers including John Williams, Marc Shaiman, James Horner, Michael Kamen and Teddy Castellucci. Among his work for Shaiman was orchestrating Billy Crystal's opening medley for the Academy Awards on four occasions.
Cohen arranged for numerous recording artists including Kenny G, Michael Feinstein, Monica Mancini, Patti Austin, Melissa Manchester, Liza Minnelli, Shirley MacLaine and Bernadette Peters. In 2005, he arranged the Kenny Ellis CD Hanukkah Swings! He also led his own 18-member big band which frequently performed in L.A. area venues.
His most recent concert commission was a three-movement work, "Columbia Suite for Orchestra," a tribute to the space-shuttle astronauts that was premiered in 2003 by the Tifereth Israel Community Orchestra in San Diego. In November, Cohen was honored for his "superb artistry and enthusiastic contribution to music" by the American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers.
Cohen was born in Brookline, Mass. on September 13, 1951, graduated from Connecticut's Hartt College of Music and did graduate studies at Brooklyn College and L.A.'s Grove School of Music.
The Society of Composers and Lyricists president Dan Foliart recalls that Cohen "demonstrated the qualities that all of us strive for... His gentle soul and spirit were an inspiration." Close colleague of 30 years and fellow composer/arranger Bruce Babcock admired not only Cohen's professional accomplishments but also his humanity, referring to Cohen's longtime mentorship in the Big Brother program. He adds, "I've known many associates and acquaintances in the music business, but very few true friends. Harvey was a true friend."
Survivors include his longtime partner Marilynn Musiker-Roth and her four children; and his mother Flora Cohen. Funeral services will be held Thursday, January 18, 1 p.m. at Groman Eden Memorial Park in Mission Hills.