Michael A. Levine
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|Michael A. Levine|
February 20, 1964 |
|Genres||Classical, film scores|
|Occupations||Composer, music producer|
|Instruments||Violin, tenor violin|
Life and career
His Concerto for Pedal Steel Guitar and Orchestra is believed to be the first concerto ever written for the pedal steel guitar. It was premiered on April 16, 2005, in a performance by the Nashville Chamber Orchestra with Gary Morse (of Dierks Bentley and Dwight Yoakam's bands) as soloist, and Paul Gambill as conductor. Levine also composed Divination By Mirrors for musical saw and strings. It was premiered in New York City's Merkin Hall in 1998 by the New York Virtuosi with Dale Stuckenbruck as the saw soloist. The piece makes extensive use of quarter tones and golden mean sections.
Levine has also written several opera and musical theater pieces including Orpheus Electronica (2000), widely believed to be the first "rave opera". Orpheus was developed for the stage by William Philip McKinley, who directed Spiderman: Turn off the Dark and The Boy From Oz on Broadway.
Trained as a violinist, Levine began his career as a studio musician in New York in the 1980s playing both keyboards and violin. He appeared on recordings and/or live performances with Carla Bley, Michael Mantler, John Greaves, Peter Blegvad, Joe Jackson, Lenny Kravitz, and Marianne Faithfull. His violin playing on Faithfull's rendition of Boulevard of Broken Dreams is considered signature. In the mid-1980s, Levine led the New York City-based quartet, No Guitars, in which he sang and played electric violin. Patrick Moraz of Yes described him as "The Jimi Hendrix of the violin."
By the late 80s, he switched his emphasis to composition, first making a name in advertising. Levine, with lyricist Ken Shuldman, wrote "Gimme a Break", the Kit Kat jingle. In a 2003 study of earworms (tunes that get stuck in people's heads) Univ. of Cincinnati researcher James Kellaris named "Gimme a Break" as one of the top ten worst offenders. Levine is, perhaps, best known as the composer for the television dramas Cold Case and Close to Home, both produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. In 2007, he scored the features Adrift in Manhattan and Columbus Day and in 2011, the feature thriller No One Will Know. In 2012, he became the series composer for George Lucas' animated television comedy Star Wars: Detours.
Levine also produced, with Michael Wolff, the songs for the Nickelodeon TV preteen comedy series and combo, The Naked Brothers Band. One of the songs, Crazy Car, peaked at #23 on the Top 200 Billboard Charts and was written by musician/actor Nat Wolff, thought to be the youngest person to ever compose a charting song. (He was 6 when he wrote the song.)
Michael has done extensive work for other film composers including Hans Zimmer, Harry Gregson-Williams, Rupert Gregson-Williams, and Cliff Martinez as an arranger and composer of additional music. He was the arranger of the choral version of "Spider-Pig" from The Simpsons Movie and composed the music for the murder scene in Veronica Guerin.
Levine often plays violin on his and others' recordings. He is a featured player on Hans Zimmer's and James Newton Howard's score for the Batman movie, The Dark Knight. He also plays tenor violin and the ciola (pronounced chee OH la) an instrument the size of a viola but which sounds in the same range as a cello. He is the recipient of seven ASCAP awards, two Clio awards, an NEA grant, a Meet The Composer grant, and a Massachusetts Arts Foundation grant.
He is the recipient of seven ASCAP awards, two Clio awards, an NEA grant, a Meet The Composer grant, and a Massachusetts Arts Foundation grant.
In Dec. 2012, Levine was elected a Governor of the music branch of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (the Emmys).
Filmography (as composer)