Early ASMAC Hero: Arthur Lange

Arthur Lange (1889-1956) was one of the early heroes in ASMAC’s history. He was considered by many of his generation to be the “Dean of Arrangers,” because he wrote Arranging for the Modern Dance Orchestra, published by Robbins Music in 1926. Later he organized the MGM Music Department and was musical director for some of the earliest sound films. He is credited with developing film scoring, music recording, and editing techniques in use for decades in the industry.

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Herschel-Gilbert-Overture-1956-coverIn 1931, he was music director at RKO and in 1932 became music director for 20th Century-Fox. While there he was loaned to MGM to compose and direct the music for The Great Ziegfeld, which received an Academy Award for Best Picture (1936). In 1938, he became a free-lancer and co-directed an arranged the music for The Great Victory Herbert. By 1939, he had founded Co-Art Records and in 1945 joined International Pictures. In 1944 he helped to organize the New York Chapter of ASMA. He turned to concert music composition full time in 1947 and assumed the conductorship of the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra.

He also taught music composition at the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music. For two decades, Lange was essential to the core of ASMA (before Composers was added to the name in 1991) and recruited his employees, associates, and students to join the organization. He mentored many arrangers and helped them get established in their careers, including several subsequent ASMA Presidents and numerous Board members.

Arthur-Lange-Overture-1955-coverASMAC Board member Herschel Gilbert 1918-2003) recalled that in 1943, he “…attended a meeting one evening in a private room of a Hollywood restaurant. Arthur Lange was ASMA’s president and the speaker that night. I was most impressed as Mr. Lange spoke authoritatively about arranging and composing for the movies. He talked about the need for an organized and united move toward better conditions for arrangers within the framework of the Local 47 of the Musicians Union. He pointed out the need to encourage new young aspirants and show them how to enter and work in the field of motion pictures. Inspired by Arthur Lange, I joined ASMA, and having time on my hands (being unemployed) volunteered to serve on a committee. Lange asked me to serve on his own committee which was investigating ways to improve the quality and upgrade the standards of commercial music. I was enamored of Arthur’s success with his legendary “hit” arrangement of “Dardanella” and looked for him for guidance and leadership.” [See The Cue Sheet: The Journal of the Society for the Preservation of Film Music, Vol. 7 No..4, December 1990, “An Appreciation: Arthur Lange,” by Herschel Burke Gilbert.

Herschel Gilbert later served as President of ASMA and served on the Board in various capacities until his death in 2003. He composed many instrumental theme songs heard on American television through the 1950s and 1960s, including The Rifleman, Michael Shayne, The Lawless Years, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Stories of the Century, The Dick Powell Show, Four Star Playhouse, The DuPont Show with June Allyson, The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor, The Westerner, Mrs. G. Goes to College, Law of the Plainsman, Target: The Corruptors!, Man with a Camera, and Burke’s Law.

Many of ASMAC’s board members and members have been associated with the organization for decades and hopefully some of their stories will be told in this ASMAC Members’ Only Blog.

The Arthur Lange Estate has made available for a free download to ASMAC members a pdf of Arthur Lange’s famous “Spectotone Chart.” We hope you enjoy having it. Arthur Lange’s book, Harmony and Harmonics, is available for purchase from Cambria Master Recordings, at www.cambriamus.com. In the future, we will make some of Arthur’s famous recipes available to our Members; he was a notoriously good chef.

Arthur Lange’s Spectotone Chart


[button link=”http://asmacblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Arthur-Lange-chart.pdf” size=”small” style=”download” color=”silver” text=”dark” window=”yes”]MEMBERS ONLY: CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD ARTHUR LANGE’S SPECTOTONE CHART[/button]

by Jeannie Gayle Pool, Ph.D., ASMAC Board of Directors


Herschel Gilbert and Jeannie Pool
Herschel Gilbert and Jeannie Pool in the 1990’s.

Herschel Gilbert and Jeannie Pool in the 1990’s

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ASMAC Members: Please LOGIN (in the sidebar) to read the entire tribute to Arthur Lange by Jeannie Gayle Pool, Ph.D, ASMAC Board of Directors, and download Arthur Lange’s Spectotone Chart.

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