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He was born in Poltava, Russian Empire (now Ukraine.) After emigrating to the U.S. he attended the Carnegie Institute, Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music & the Damrosch Institute, NYC. He began his musical career as a duo-pianist with Morton Gould (known as "Shefter & Gould".) They performed in theaters and on the radio between 1930 - 1936. He developed his skills as a conductor, and began appearing both as solo pianist and conductor on stage. He was the guest conductor at Carnegie Hall during the 1946-1947 season.
He formed his own orchestra, and appeared on New York radio including some broadcasts over the NBC Network. He also conducted his orchestra on recordings for several record labels and for the "Muzak" store music service.
In the late 1950s, Shefter struck up an alliance with fellow film composer Paul Sawtell and they produced many film scores together. Most notably they provided the music to classic science fiction and horror films including Kronos (1957), It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958), Return of the Fly (1959), The Lost World (1960), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961, in cooperation with producer Irwin Allen), and Jack the Giant Killer (1962). In 1965 they composed some scores for the director Russ Meyer, such as the cult classic Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Motorpsycho. The last score they provided was for the Mexican film Emiliano Zapata in 1970 shortly before Sawtell's retirement.
He retired in 1975 and died in 1999 at the age of 95 in West Hollywood, CA.
- Kronos (1957)
- Ambush at Cimarron Pass (1958)
- It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958)
- Return of the Fly (1959)
- The Big Circus (1959)
- The Lost World (1960)
- Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961)
- Jack the Giant Killer (1962)
- The Last Man on Earth (1964)
- Curse of the Fly (1965)
- Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)
- Motorpsycho (1965)
- The Last Shot You Hear (1969)
- Emiliano Zapata (1970)
- The Gatling Gun (1971)
- Bert Shefter, composer, at Monstrous Movie Music, http://www.mmmrecordings.com/Composers/Shefter/shefter.html
- Larson, Randall D. (2012). Musique Fantastique: 100 Years of Fantasy, Science Fiction, & Horror Film Music (2nd Edition), Chapter 8. Creature Features.
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