Lalo Schifrin is a true Renaissance man. As a pianist, composer and conductor, he is equally at home conducting a symphony orchestra, performing at an international jazz festival, scoring a film or television show, or creating works for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the London Philharmonic and even The Sultan of Oman.
As a young man in his native Argentina, Lalo Schifrin received classical training in music, and also studied law. He came from a musical family, and his father, Luis Schifrin, was the concertmaster of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Buenos Aires at the Teatro Colon. Lalo Schifrin continued his formal music education at the Paris Conservatory during the early 1950’s. Simultaneously, he became a professional jazz pianist, composer and arranger, playing and recording in Europe.
When Schifrin returned to Buenos Aires in the mid 1950’s, he formed his own big concert band. It was during a performance of this band that Dizzy Gillespie heard Schifrin play and asked him to become his pianist and arranger. In 1958, Schifrin moved to the United States and thus began a remarkable career.
His music is a synthesis of traditional and twentieth-century techniques, and his early love for jazz and rhythm are strong attributes of his style. “Invocations,” “Concerto for Double Bass,” “Piano Concertos No. 1 and No. 2,” “Pulsations,” “Tropicos,” “La Nouvelle Orleans,” and “Resonances” are examples of this tendency to juxtapose universal thoughts with a kind of elaborated primitivism. In the classical composition field, Schifrin has more than 60 works.
He has written more than 100 scores for films and television. Among the classic scores are “Mission Impossible,” “Mannix,” “The Fox,” “Cool Hand Luke,” “Bullitt,” “Dirty Harry,” “The Cincinnati Kid” and “Amityville Horror.” Recent film scores include “Tango,” “Rush Hour,” “Rush Hour 2,” “Rush Hour 3,” “Bringing Down The House,” “The Bridge of San Luis Rey,” “After the Sunset,” and “Abominable.”
In 1987, a select group of some of the best musicians in France decided to form the Paris Philharmonic Orchestra for the purpose of recording music for films, performing concerts and participating in television shows. The appointed Lalo Schifrin as Musical Director and their inaugural concert took place at the Theatre des Champs Elysees on January 26, 1988. His first recording with this orchestra was released on September 1988. Schifrin held this post for five years before resigning to spend more time composing.
Among Schifrin’s other conducting credits are the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic, the Mexico Philharmonic, the Houston Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Mexico City Philharmonic, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of Saint Luke (New York City), the National Symphony Orchestra of Argentina, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and the Lincoln Center Chamber Orchestra.
In 1986, the Glendale Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Lalo Schifrin performed at the Hollywood Bowl. His “Salute to the Statue of Liberty” was received with a tumultuous ovation by a crowd of 17,000 people. In 1987, Schifrin was commissioned to write the overture for the Pan American Games which he recorded in Toronto and premiered with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. In 1995, Schifrin composed ad conducted the finale for the Pan American Games, which were held in Argentina.
It is Schifrin’s ability to switch musical gears which makes him so unique in the music world. As a jazz musician he has performed and recorded with great personalities such as Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz, Count Basie, Jon Faddis, James Moody, Louie Bellson, and Kenny Burrell.
His “Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra,” was recorded by the London Philharmonic Orchestra featuring soloist Angel Romero. “Dances Concertantes” for clarinet and orchestra which he conducted at the Pyramids of Teotihuacan in Mexico with Placido Domingo as the tenor soloist. The event was telecast in 1989. In 1999, this concert was released on CD, DVD and VHS.
In April, 1989, Lalo Schifrin was appointed Music Director of the Glendale Symphony Orchestra, and he served in that capacity for six years.
He was commissioned to write the Grand Finale for an event which took place in Caracalla, Italy, July 7th, 1990, to celebrate the finals of the World Cup Soccer Championship. In this concert, the Three Tenors, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras sang together for the first time. The orchestras of the Rome and Florence opera companies were conducted by Zubin Mehta. The record and videotape of this event have gone on to become the biggest sellers in the history of classical music. Schifrin also was engaged to arrange the sequels for July 1994, also for Carreras, Domingo, Pavarotti and Zubin Mehta, which was performed at Dodger Stadium, again on the eve of the World Cup Soccer Championships; the Three Tenors event that was held in July of 1998 in Paris, France, and the latest one for the World Cup Finals in Japan.
Schifrin was commissioned by the Steinway Foundation to write his “Piano Concerto No. 2,” which was premiered by the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich, in Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center on June 11, 1992, featuring Cristina Ortiz as the soloist. In that year, he also produced, conducted and arranged a CD featuring Jose Carreras with the London Symphony Orchestra: “Friends for Life.”
Among Schifrin’s most recent commissions include “Fantasy for Screenplay and Orchestra” for Daniel Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony, premiered in 2002-2003 season, and Symphonic Impressions of Oman, which was commissioned by the Sultan of Oman, recorded in England with the London Symphony Orchestra, and released by Aleph Records in 2003. His other key appearances in 2003 included Schifrin with the Georgian State Symphony Orchestra; with The Moscow Symphony Orchestra and with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in Geneva, Switzerland.
“Lalo Schifrin’s work is spectacular.”
-CBS Sunday Morning News
“A musician of exceptional imagination and skill.”
-Los Angeles Times