Jerome Moross

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Jerome Moross
Born (1913-08-01)August 1, 1913
New York City
Died July 25, 1983(1983-07-25) (aged 69)
Miami, Florida
Residence Los Angeles, California
Occupation Composer: Television series Wagon Train
Religion Jewish

Jerome Moross (August 1, 1913 – July 25, 1983) was an American-born composer. He composed works for symphony orchestra, chamber ensembles, soloists, musical theatre. He also orchestrated motion picture scores for other composers. He is best known for the excellent quality of his music for film and television.


He was born in New York City in 1913. He became a talented piano player and composed music for the theater. During his early years, Moross met and became lifelong friends with Bernard Herrmann.[1] In 1931 he met Aaron Copland and joined his Young Composers Group, whose members included Bernard Herrmann. Copland supported his work and Herrmann provided him an introduction to the entertainment media, beginning with composition of music cues for radio shows in 1935. In the 1940s he began to work in Hollywood, California, where he would compose the music scores for sixteen films from 1948 to 1969.

In 1956 he composed the score for the World War II drama The Sharkfighters, possibly traveling to Cuba with the film company. The score is distinctive in its use of ethnic themes featuring syncopation and percussion instruments that stress the ostinato rhythm that soon became the signature style element of his scores for many westerns.[2]

His best-known film score is that for the 1958 movie The Big Country, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Original Music Score. According to Moross, he composed the main title after recalling a walk he took in the flat lands around Albuquerque, New Mexico, during a visit in October 1936, shortly before he moved to Hollywood.

His other works include the music for the films The Proud Rebel (1958), The Mountain Road (1951), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1960), Five Finger Exercise (1962), The Cardinal (1963), The War Lord (1965), Rachel, Rachel (1968), The Valley of Gwangi (1969) and Hail, Hero! (1969). He also composed the main theme to the 3rd–8th seasons of the television western series Wagon Train, the theme of which was based on his score for the 1959 historical western The Jayhawkers!.

He also orchestrated for other composers, usually uncredited, including such films as Our Town for Copland and The Best Years of Our Lives for Hugo Friedhofer.

Moross's concert works include a sonata for piano duet and string quartet, and a symphony that was premiered by conductor Sir Thomas Beecham on 18 October 1943 in Seattle, Washington. It featured an "intrinsically American sound" that characterized all of Moross's compositions in every genre and form.

Moross died in Miami in 1983 of congestive heart failure following a stroke.

Theatre works[edit]

  • Mother (1935) – play – co-incidental music composer
  • Susanna and the Elders (1948) – one-act musical – composer
  • Willie the Weeper (1948) – one-act musical – composer
  • The Eccentricities of Davey Crockett (1948) – one-act musical – composer
  • The Golden Apple (1954) – musical – composer
  • Gentlemen, Be Seated! (1963) – musical – composer


  1. ^ Whitmer, Mariana (2013). "The Jerome Moross Story". The Estate of Jerome Moross. Retrieved 24 May 2013. 
  2. ^ Whitmer (2012), pp. 45-47
  • Whitmer, Mariana (2012). Jerome Moross's The Big Country: A film Score Guide. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-81088-501-8. 


  • Bloom, Ken. American song. The complete musical theater companion. 1877–1995’’, Vol. 2, 2nd edition, Schirmer Books, 1996.
  • Borroff, Edith; Clark, J. Bunker. American Opera. A Checklist, Harmonie Park Press, 1992.
  • Larkin, Colin. The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Third edition, Macmillan, 1998.
  • Press, Jaques Cattell (Ed.). Who's who in American Music. Classical, First edition. R. R. Bowker, New York 1983.
  • Sadie, Stanley. The new Grove dictionary of music and musicians, Macmillan, 1980.
  • Sadie, Stanley; Hitchcock, H. Wiley (Ed.). The New Grove Dictionary of American Music. Grove's Dictionaries of Music, 1986.
  • Wescott, Steven D. A Comprehensive Bibliography of Music for Film and Television, Information Coordinatores, 1985.

External links[edit]