John Lissauer

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John Lissauer
Background information
Genres Pop, rock, jazz, classical and film soundtracks
Occupation(s) Composer, music producer, arranger, conductor, instrumentalist, educator
Instruments Piano, woodwinds[1]
Years active 1974-present
Associated acts Leonard Cohen, Loudon Wainwright, Mary Fahl, Anjani, Bette Midler
Notable instruments

John Lissauer is an American music producer, instrumentalist, and composer. In the 1970s he became known for producing and arranging New Skin for the Old Ceremony by Leonard Cohen,[1] and has since arranged, produced, or conducted for artists such as Whitney Houston, Bette Midler, Luther Vandross and Loudon Wainwright III.[2]

He has won a number of Clio Awards for commercial soundtracks,[2] and his 1975 score for La Tete de Normande St. Onge won a Canadian Academy Award for "Best Original Score in a Motion Picture." More recently, he has composed the scores for films such as The Last Godfather, End Call, Pokémon: The First Movie and Apartment 1303. He operates the Katonah Mill Studio on a farm in Westchester, New York.

Music career[edit]

John Lissauer graduated with a degree in music composition from Yale University, where he also focused on woodwind instrumentals.[2] He moved to New York in 1971.[1] According to Lissauer, his first big gig happened when he was nineteen, when he was brought on to arrange and produce jazz singer Al Jarreau's first recordings.[2]

After having worked with artists such as Lewis Furey and The Manhattan Transfer in his early twenties,[3] Lissauer went on to produce and arrange the 1974 album New Skin for the Old Ceremony by Leonard Cohen.[1] From 1974 through 1976, Cohen toured with a band led by Lissauer, first in Europe and then the US and Canada.[3] Ten years later Lissauer also produced, arranged, and conducted Cohen's album Various Positions,[4] which was well received in Rolling Stone, who singled out Lissauer's "lucid and beautiful production."[3] That album contained three of Cohen's most popular songs, including the seminal recording of "Hallelujah," one of the most recorded songs in American pop music history. Between his work for Cohen and Bette Midler, Lissauer has worked on four gold records.[2] Among other artists he has arranged or produced for are Whitney Houston, Mary Fahl, Tony Bird and Ayo.[2]

Lissauer has also composed, arranged, or conducted the scores for numerous films, and his 1975 score for La Tete de Normande St. Onge won a Canadian Academy Award for "Best Original Score in a Motion Picture." More recently, he has composed the scores for such films as The Last Godfather, End Call, Pokémon: The First Movie and Apartment 1303, and he orchestrated and arranged both the scores for Seven and That Thing You Do for Howard Shore.[2] Since age 21 he has scored over 2000 radio and TV commercials, and has won a number of Clio Awards, including the "Campaign Of The Decade" award for his work on Polaroid with James Garner.[2]

Lissauer has composed and conducted for orchestras in New York, Hollywood, London, Paris, Prague and Toronto,[2] and is also a woodwind player with various local symphonies around New York. He has taught music at both Yale and Kingsborough Community College.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Lissauer and his wife, Lilian,[1] have a son, Greg and live in Westchester, New York.[2] On his farm he operates The Katonah Mill Studio; the digital 96-track recording facilities[2] are less than an hour from Midtown Manhattan, and groups that have recorded there come from genres as diverse as heavy metal, avant garde big band, choir and gospel, string quartet, and classical guitar.[5]


Production credits[edit]

Year Title Artist Producer Arranger Conductor
1974 New Skin for the Old Ceremony Leonard Cohen Yes Yes
1975 Lewis Furey Lewis Furey Yes Yes Yes
1976 T-Shirt Loudon Wainwright Yes
1976 Songs for the New Depression Bette Midler Yes Yes
1978 Bird of Paradise Tony Bird Yes Yes Yes
1978 Final Exam Loudon Wainwright Yes Yes
1979 The Sky is Falling Lewis Furey Yes Yes Yes
1980s Leata Leata Galloway Yes Yes Yes
1984 Various Positions Leonard Cohen Yes Yes Yes
1999 The Embrace Clara Ponty Yes Yes
2003 The Other Side of Time Mary Fahl Yes Yes
2005 In The Presence Daniel Rodriguez Yes Yes
2006 Blue Alert Anjani Thomas Yes
2006 Joyful Ayo Yes Yes
2011 Ten Feet Deep Ten Feet Deep Yes Yes
2013 Love & Gravity Mary Fahl Yes Yes


Year Movie title Director Composer Arranger Conductor Producer
1975 La Tete de Normande St. Onge Gilles Carle Yes
1977 L'Ange et la Femme Gilles Carle Yes
1977 Rubber Gun Alan Moyle Yes
1978 Jacob Two Two Meets the Hooded Fang Theodore J. Flicker Yes
1980 Fantastica Gilles Carle Yes
1990 Pump Up the Volume Alan Moyle Yes
1995 Seven David Fincher Yes
1996 Managua Mikele Taverna Yes Yes Yes Yes
1996 Looking for Richard Al Pacino Yes
1996 That Thing You Do! Tom Hanks Yes
1998 Pokémon: The First Movie Kunihiko Yuyama Yes
1998 Flood: A River's Rampage Bruce Pittman Yes
1999 Pokémon 2000 Kunihiko Yuyama Yes
2003 Gods and Generals Ronald F. Maxwell Yes Yes
2005 David & Layla Jay Jonroy Yes Yes Yes Yes
2005 Supernova John Harrison Yes Yes
2007 Apartment 1303 Ataru Oikawa Yes Yes Yes Yes
2008 End Call Kiyoshi Yamamoto Yes Yes Yes Yes
2009 Watchmen
(track "Hallejuh" by Leonard Cohen)
Zack Snyder Yes Yes Yes
2010 The Last Godfather Hyung-rae Shim Yes Yes Yes Yes
2012 So This Is Christmas Richard Foster Yes Yes Yes Yes
2013 Dark Disciple Allan Caggiano Yes Yes Yes Yes


  1. ^ a b c d e "Dick Straub interview with John Lissauer, Katonah Mill Studio". Anjani Music. August 24, 2005. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "About". Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  3. ^ a b c Light, Alan (Nov 19, 2013). The Holy Or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent ... Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781451657852. 
  4. ^ "The Minor Fall, The Major Lift of Hallelujah". Mojo Working International. 2009. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  5. ^ "Katonah Mill Studio". Retrieved 2014-02-01. 

External links[edit]