Ernest Gold (composer)

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Ernest Gold
Born Ernst Sigmund Goldner
(1921-07-13)July 13, 1921
Vienna, Austria
Died March 17, 1999(1999-03-17) (aged 77)
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Cause of death Complications from a stroke
Occupation Composer
Spouse(s) Marni Nixon
(m. 1950; div. 1969)

Jan Keller
(m. 1975; his death 1999)
Children 3, including Andrew Gold

Ernst Sigmund Goldner (July 13, 1921 – March 17, 1999), known professionally as Ernest Gold, was an Austrian-born American composer. He is most noted for his work on the film Exodus produced in 1960.

Early life[edit]

Gold was born in 1921 in Vienna, the son of Elisabeth (Stransky) and Gustav Gold.[1][2] Gold came from a musical family. His father played the violin, and his mother sang.[3] His father also studied under Richard Heuberger.[4] His paternal grandfather was Jewish, although his paternal grandmother was not.[5] Gold said that he learned to read music before he had learned to read words.[4] He started developing his musical talents at a young age. He studied the violin and the piano when he was only 6 years old and began composing music at 8. By age 13, Gold had written an entire opera.[1] As a child, he always said he wanted to go to Hollywood and be a composer.[6]:24 Gold would go to the movies as a teenager to listen to the musical compositions. He admired Max Steiner.[4] Gold attended the State Academy of Music that is located in Vienna in 1938; however, he moved to the U.S. in 1938, after the Anschluss of Austria.[1] In the United States, Gold earned money by performing piano accompaniment and writing pop songs in New York City. He studied with Otto Cesana and Leon Barzin at the National Orchestra Association.[4]


NBC Orchestra performed Gold's first symphony in 1939, only a year after he moved to the United States.[1] In 1941, Gold composed a symphony that was later played at Carnegie Hall in 1945.[4] Gold later moved to Hollywood in 1945 to work with Columbia Pictures. Gold wrote the score for an hour-long melodrama called Girl of the Limberlost (1945). After this opportunity, Gold wrote scores for other minor films.[1] For the next ten years, he continued to work on B movies, mainly orchestrating and arranging music for western movies and melodramas.[3]

He was asked by Stanley Kramer to orchestrate Not as a Stranger (1955). The music for the film was written by George Antheil. This production opened the door for Gold to work with other scores written by Antheil and orchestrate more of Kramer's films.[1] Gold worked on almost every film Kramer made, including A Child Is Waiting and It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.[3]

Gold produced his first original score in 1958 for Too Much, Too Soon. He received a big break when he was asked to score On the Beach (1959 film), a 1959 production. Antheil got sick and was unable to score the film, so he recommended Gold for the job.[4]

Gold was most widely recognized for his work on Exodus (1960).[1] Gold was contracted by Otto Preminger and was able to watch the actual filming of the movie.[3] Gold spent time in Israel to write the score.[6]:26

In 1968, Gold even wrote a Broadway musical[1] called I'm Solomon.[7] He also wrote music for television including Fun with Dick and Jane.[3] In his later life, Gold was the musical director of the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra. He also founded the Los Angeles Senior Citizens Orchestra.[1]

His classical works also included a piano concerto, a string quartet, and a piano sonata. Ernest Gold's "Fight for Survival" from Exodus was sampled by Moby in his song Porcelain.[8]


Gold's contributions were recognized with Academy Award nominations and Golden Globe nominations. He won a Golden Globe in 1960 for Best Motion Picture Score for 1959's On the Beach. This film was also nominated for a Music Academy Award that same year. In 1960, Gold's Exodus was nominated for a Golden Globe under the Best Original Score category.[9] The film won an Academy Award for Best Music and a Grammy for Best Soundtrack Album.[10] For his contributions, Gold had his name engraved in the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was the first composer to receive this honor.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Gold was married to singer and actress Marni Nixon from 1950–1969. They had three children: musician Andrew Gold (composer of "Lonely Boy" and "Thank You for Being a Friend"), Martha Gold Carr, and Melanie Gold.[9][12] Gold had a marriage after being married to Nixon.[13]:62 From 1975–1999 he was married to Jan Keller Gold.[14]

Ernest Gold died on March 17, 1999, in Santa Monica, California, at the age of 77 from complications following a stroke.[1][15]

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Obituary: Ernest Gold". The Independent. 1999-03-30. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d e Eder, Bruce. "Artist Biography". All Music. Retrieved 21 June 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Thomas, Tony (March 1992). Film Score. Riverwood Press. pp. 47–55. ISBN 9781880756010. 
  5. ^ Bloom, Nate. "Interfaith Celebrities: Katie Couric's Jewish Mom and The Jewish Side to". interfaithfamily. Retrieved 20 June 2016. 
  6. ^ a b Thomas, Tony (October 1997). Music for the Movies. Silman-James Pr. ISBN 9781879505377. 
  7. ^ "I'm Solomon". Playbill. Retrieved 21 June 2016. 
  8. ^ "Moby's 'Porcelain' - Discover the Sample Source". WhoSampled. Retrieved 18 July 2017. 
  9. ^ a b "Biography". Ernest Gold. Retrieved 21 June 2016. 
  10. ^ "Exodus (1960) Awards". IMDb. Retrieved 21 June 2016. 
  11. ^ "Gold, Ernest". Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 21 June 2016. 
  12. ^ Cross, Lucy. "Marni Nixon". Masterworks Broadway. Retrieved 21 June 2016. 
  13. ^ Nixon, Marni (Sep 2006). I Could Have Sung All Night: My Story. Billboard Books. ISBN 9780823083657. Retrieved 21 June 2016. 
  14. ^ "Ernest Gold". Monstrous Movie Music. Retrieved 21 June 2016. 
  15. ^ "Ernest Gold, 77, Oscar-Winning Composer". The New York Times. 1999-03-21. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 

External links[edit]