Russell Garcia (composer)

Russell Garcia, QSM (12 April 1916 – 19 November 2011) was a composer and arranger who wrote a wide variety of music for screen, stage and broadcast.

Garcia was born in Oakland, California, but was a longtime resident of New Zealand. Self-taught, his break came when he substituted for an ill colleague on a radio show. Subsequently, he went on to become a composer/arranger at NBC Studios for such television shows as Rawhide 1962 and Laredo, 1965–67. He worked at Universal Studios and MGM, where at the latter he composed and conducted the original scores for such films as George Pal’s The Time Machine (1960) and Atlantis, the Lost Continent (1961).

He also orchestrated the music for Father Goose (1964) and The Benny Goodman Story (1956). Garcia collaborated with many Hollywood musicians and celebrities, including Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Anita O’Day, Mel Torme, Julie London, Oscar Peterson, Stan Kenton, Maynard Ferguson, Walt Disney, Orson Welles, Jane Wyman, Ronald Reagan, Andy Williams, Judy Garland, Henry Mancini, and Charlie Chaplin making arrangements and conducting orchestras as needed. Russ loved to ski so he would write on-site scores to ski-content films.

Garcia and his wife Gina have been members of the Bahá’í Faith since 1955. In 1966 they set sail and ended up in the south Pacific when some musicians from Auckland, New Zealand invited Russell to do some live concerts, radio and television shows and to lecture at the various universities around the country on behalf of the New Zealand Broadcasting Commission and Music Trades Association. Russell, finished with his lectures and concerts and on advice of friends, drove up to the Bay of Islands in the north of North Island where they live.

They spent many years there, but after they moved to Kerikeri, Garcia continued to compose and arrange, including projects in the United States and around the world. His most recent project prior to his death was his and Gina’s first opera, The Unquenchable Flame. Together, the Garcias further volunteered their services on a regular basis to teach primary school children in New Zealand about the virtues gained through the use of songs, stories, games and creative exercises.

In Fiji, in 1969, the “charm” spun again when musicians visiting from Auckland invited Garcia, on behalf of the New Zealand Broadcasting Commission and the Music Trades Association, to do live concerts, radio and TV shows as well as lecture at universities around the country, a perfect fit seeing as Garcia is also known in music circles as the author of what are considered the definitive textbooks on composition: The Professional Arranger Composer Books I and II. They have been translated into six languages and are used in universities and conservatories around the world.

At the age of ninety-two, Garcia was was still composing and touring internationally.

His music

1950 – Radar Secret Service
1953 – Limelight, miscredited 1972 Oscar for Best Original Dramatic Score given to Raymond Rasch and Larry Russell [8]
1955 – Wigville
1955 – Four Horns and a Lush Life
1956 – On Four Horns and a Lush Wife
1956 – The Johnny Evergreens
1956 – That Old Black Magic (with Peggy Connelly)
1956/57 – About the Blues (with Julie London)
1956 – The Complete Porgy and Bess
1957 – Porgy and Bess (Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong)
1957 – Louis Under the Stars (Louis Armstrong)
1957 – I’ve Got the World on a String (Louis Armstrong)
1957 – The Warm Feeling
1957 – Listen to the Music of Russell Garcia
1957 – Make Love to Me (Julie London)
1957 – Sounds in the Night (Bethlehem Records)
1958 – Anita Sings the Winners (Anita O’Day)
1958 – “Carioca” – RCA LPM-1691
1959 – Get Happy! (Ella Fitzgerald)
1959 – Jazz Music for Birds and Hep Cats
1959 – Fantastica: Music From Outer Space – see Theodore Keep
1960 – Cool Velvet (see Stan Getz)
1960 – Swingin’ On the Moon (Mel Tormé)
1960 – Margaret Whiting Sings the Jerome Kern Songbook (Margaret Whiting)
1960 – Soubrette Sings Broadway Hit Songs (Blossom Dearie)
1960 – The Time Machine (soundtrack)
1961 – Atlantis, the Lost Continent (soundtrack)
1965 – Laredo (TV series) (soundtrack)
1965 – “Adventure in Emotion” on Stan Kenton Conducts the Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra (Capitol)
1966 – The Pad and How to Use It (soundtrack)
1968 – Three Guns for Texas (soundtrack)
1979 – Variations for Flugelhorn, String Quartet, Bass & Drums
1986 – Jazz Variations
2002 – The Unquenchable Flame (about Táhirih)
2009 – Charmed Life: Shaynee Rainbolt SINGS Russell Garcia