A child prodigy in Austria, Ernest Gold was already playing piano and violin by age six. He composed his first song at eight, and completed a full-length opera at age thirteen. He studied at the Vienna State Academy of Music but had to stop in 1938 when his family was forced to flee to escape the Nazis.
His family settled in Hollywood where Gold found work on the staff of Columbia pictures. He made his debut in 1945, becoming one of the many staff composers contributing additional uncredited music to a multitude of pictures.
His music began to be noticed in the 1950s through his work on popular TV shows such as Gunsmoke, Wagon Train and M Squad. But his big break came when he met director Stanley Kramer.
Kramer used Gold for many of his famous films, including The Defiant Ones (1958), On the Beach (1959), Inherit the Wind (1960), Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), Ship of Fools (1965), and The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969).
Gold had an international hit in 1960 with the popular theme for Exodus. The score won him the Academy Award and the theme won a Grammy Award for Song of the Year.
Gold also has a number of symphonic works to his credit, as well as the Broadway musical I’m Solomon, which lasted a total of seven performances in 1968. He directed the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra and founded the Los Angeles Senior Citizens Orchestra.
While not necessarily considered one of the top film composers by film score enthusiasts, Ernest Gold remains a personal favorite.