An Appreciation - Eugene Zador


An Appreciation - Eugene Zador


Lullaby  - (1969)    

Music of Eugene Zador (1894-1977)
for piano

Eugene Zador


Eugene Zador was was born in 1894 in Hungary, and studied under Richard Heuberger at the Vienna Conservatory (1911) and under Max Reger in Leipzig (1912-14).  Among his other teachers were Hermann Abert (1913-14) and Arnold Schering (1919-20) at the University of Halle, and Fritz Volbach at Münster University (1920-21), where he took his doctorate. Zador was invited to teach at the New Vienna Conservatory in 1921, and in 1934 he became an honorary teacher at the Budapest Academy of Music. He left Hungary in 1939, finally settling in Los Angeles. There he composed many operas and orchestral pieces, and wrote or arranged over 120 film scores for Hollywood. Unlike Arnold Schoenberg who could not find his way into film scoring for his egotistical personality, Eugene Zador was exceptionally self-effacing and willing to collaborate with other composers, producers and directors.


He was deeply trusted by film composers like Miklós Rózsa for whom he assisted in the scores to Moonfleet, the unusual apocalyptic sci-fi thriller The World, The Flesh And The Devil, Tribute to a Bad Man, and was known for his work on such epic films as  Ivanhoe, King of Kings, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, and Knights of the Round Table. Among his other classical works as the Divertimento for Strings (1956), Christopher Columbus, Studies for Orchestra and a Concerto for Accordion, Strings, and Orchestra.

In UCLA's Eugene Zador Collection of Music Manuscripts there may be found autograph manuscripts of orchestral works, including Fairy Tale: The remarkable adventures of Henry Bold, On the Banks of the Wabash, Rhapsody for Cimbalom and Orchestra, Scherzo for orchestra, Tempest Suite, Fugato for orchestra, Piano Concerto, Melody and Vivo for Orchestra, Symphony No.1, Fugue Fantasia for Orchestra, Prelude and Fugue for Orchestra, and 42 autographs comprising 32 autograph letters signed, one typed letter signed, two autograph postcards signed, four Christmas cards with autograph notes signed and two programs honoring the composer on his 80th birthday, with autograph notes signed. These are dated 1968-1976, mostly on the composer's letterhead paper from his home in Los Angeles. All are to the music critic Robert Breuer of New York. Nearly all are in German; an English summary is included in the collection.


I met Eugene Zador while performing as a young baritone, and singing semi-professionally in Los Angeles. I had done a number of his works in various venues, and was a guest soloist with the Roger Wagner Chorale as they prepared a piece of his. (Additionally, while at UCLA, I had studied choral conducting with Wagner.) Eugene was a genuinely kind and generous man as well as talented musician, and he took an interest in me as both performer and budding composer.


After studying twelve-tone composition and set theory at Immaculate Heart College with a composer who attempted to enforce a strict avant-garde aesthetic of that era, I mentioned to Eugene during a rehearsal of his work that I had not enjoyed my composition studies to date. He invited me to his home in the Larchmont area of Los Angeles, and thereafter we met many times as he commented on my early attempts at composition. His encouragement to me to return to melodic writing was seminal in the direction I would later take, and I honor his instruction for that singular reason, as well as for his time and other gifts he gave me freely.


My son, Jeff, was born in 1969. Eugene Zador surprised my with the composition below which he presented to me as a gift. It remains among my musical treasures as an original autograph and memory of this kind and gentle man. He misspelled Jeffrey as "Jeffry," and I have left that in this new engraving of that hand-written manuscript, and created a copyright for it from the date of its composition in Eugene Zador's name.


Jeff Bachlund as a toddler (1970)


The score is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer's estate. Click on the graphic below for this piano score.

Lullaby in new engraving


Original manuscript


An orchestral arrangement to honor this musical giant