Thursday, October 16, 2014

Leo F. Forbstein, 1892-1948

So that's what Leo Forbstein looks like!

Today marks the birth anniversary of Leo F. Forbstein. That's a name that you've almost certainly seen if you watch enough TCM. He was the musical director at Warner Bros. for oer 15 years until his death in 1948, conducting the orchestra. Forbstein started at Vitaphone which was a subsidiary of Warner Bros., which explains why in many of the early 1930s pictures he's credited as the conductor of the Vitaphone orchestra. Forbstein won an Oscar for Anthony Adverse, although that was as head of the music department; the actual score was written by Erich Korngold who also picked up an Oscar alongside Forbstein.

In fact, Forbstein wrote very few scores unlike some composers who are also conductors. IMDb lists only four credits for Forbstein as a composer, for movies I have to admit that I don't recognize. IMDb also lists two credits for Forbstein as an actor, although I doubt he was really acting. In both pictures: 1934's Twenty Million Sweethearts and 1935's Broadway Gondolier, he's listed as playing a conductor. I haven't seen either movie, but I'd presume both of them needed a conductor for the orchestra that showed up in a musical number, so why not use Forbstein?

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