John Stepan Zamecnik

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John Stepan Zamecnik (Cleveland, Ohio, May 14, 1872 - Los Angeles, California, June 13, 1953) was an American composer and conductor. He is best known for the "photoplay music" he composed for use during silent films by pianists, organists, and orchestras.

Zamecnik used many pseudonyms, including Dorothy Lee, Lionel Baxter, R.L. (Robert) Creighton, Arturo de Castro, "Josh and Ted", J. (Jane) Hathaway, Kathryn Hawthorne, Roberta Hudson, Ioane Kawelo, J. Edgar Lowell, Jules Reynard, F. (Frederick) Van Norman, Hal Vinton and Grant Wellesley.[1]


Zamecnik studied at the Prague Conservatory of Music under Antonín Dvořák in the mid-1890s, completing his classes there in 1897.

In 1899 Zamecnik finally returned to the United States. While living in Cleveland, where he worked as a violinist and composer, he also played in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as a violinist under Victor Herbert. In 1907, Zamecnik became music director of the newly constructed Hippodrome Theater in Cleveland, Ohio. When the Hippodrome commenced with the screening of silent films, Zamecnik began to compose music scores for them. They were published by Samuel Fox,[2] whose company was the first to publish original film scores in the United States.[3]

In 2011 Paramount Pictures secured the original manuscript score of the cues composed by Zamecnik for Wings from the Library of Congress. A new recording was produced for the 24 January 2012 launch of the Wings DVD and Blu-ray.


Works for orchestra[edit]

  • 1919 My Cairo Love, Egytische serenade
  • 1921 Somewhere In Naples
  • Babylonian Nights
  • China Doll Parade, for orchestra and organ
  • I Gathered a Rose I gathered a Rose
  • Treacherous Knave
  • Wings

Works for band[edit]

  • 1928 Scarlet Mask, overture
  • 1930 Olympia, overture
  • 1935 World Events, March
  • 1936 1776, overture
  • 1939 Fortuna, overture
  • Indian Dawn, serenade
  • Neapolitan Nights
  • Southern Miniatures, suite

Vocal music[edit]



  • 1916 Nola, Felix Arndt (1889–1918)


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Mont Alto: Composer Profile: J.S. Zamecnik (1872-1953);
  3. ^ "Sam Fox, 89, Dies; Music Publisher"; New York Times; Dec. 1, 1971.

External links[edit]