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October 21, 2010
Unchained Melodies: A Centennial Tribute to Alex North
KUSC-FM to broadcast two-hour film-music special

Alex North

Film composer Alex North, who would have turned 100 this year, will be celebrated in a two-hour radio special — "Unchained Melodies: A Centennial Tribute to Alex North" — airing at 2 p.m. Pacific time Sunday, Oct. 24, on Classical KUSC (91.5 FM in the Los Angeles area) and at www.kusc.org.

North, composer of such landmark movie scores as A Streetcar Named Desire, Spartacus and Cleopatra, was a 15-time Oscar nominee and the first composer ever to receive an honorary Academy Award (in 1986) for his body of work. Selections from these three film scores are among more than two dozen works by North to be featured in the program.

Other highlights include host Jon Burlingame's recent interview with composer John Williams, a longtime friend and colleague of North, who offers his insights into the composer's life and career. North's own voice will also be heard in archival clips discussing his music for Broadway and Hollywood.

Among the rare recordings on this broadcast will be previously unavailable excerpts from such early, pre-Hollywood North works as "Negro Mother," a cantata based on a Langston Hughes text; "Revue for Clarinet and Orchestra," a concerto written for Benny Goodman in 1946; North's music for Broadway's Death of a Salesman in 1949; and a movement from the composer's second symphony.

Other film scores will include Viva Zapata!, The Misfits, The Agony and the Ecstasy, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and the original London recording of North's unused music for 2001: A Space Odyssey. Television scores represented in the program will include a miniature ballet written for the 1950s variety series Your Show of Shows, plus the themes for Playhouse 90 and Rich Man, Poor Man.

Burlingame is writer and producer of the program. Gail Eichenthal is executive producer for KUSC-FM. This is Burlingame's seventh radio documentary on leading figures in Hollywood film-music history.

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