WILLIAM PERRY

William Perry is an American composer and television producer. Born in Elmira, New York in 1930, he attended Harvard University and studied with Paul Hindemith, Walter Piston and Randall Thompson. His music has been performed by the Chicago Symphony, the Saint Louis Symphony, the Detroit Symphony and the symphonic orchestras of Cincinnati, Minnesota, Montreal and Hartford as well as the Vienna Symphony, the Rome Philharmonic, and other orchestras in Europe.

For twelve years, Perry was the music director and composer-in-residence at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where he composed and performed as a pianist more than two hundred scores for the Museum's silent film collection. His subsequent television series, The Silent Years (1971, 1975) starring Orson Welles and Lillian Gish, won an Emmy Award.

For three years (1976-1978) he produced a poetry series for PBS called Anyone for Tennyson? starring Henry Fonda, Jack Lemmon, Claire Bloom, William Shatner and Vincent Price among others. He later developed and produced the four-part DVD series, The Poetry Hall of Fame, which he also hosted.

William Perry conducting a film score with the Vienna Symphony and Vienna Boys Choir. The actor on the screen is a young Christoph Waltz.
 

He produced and composed the scores for the Peabody Award-winning Mark Twain Series of feature films on PBS (1980-1985), and his Broadway musical, Wind in the Willows, starring Nathan Lane, won him Tony nominations for both music and lyrics (1986).

Perry's dramatizations of the works of Mark Twain have included a staged musical biography, Mark Twain: The Musical, which ran for ten summers (1987–1995) in Elmira, NY and Hartford, CT.  PBS produced a television version of the show. LML Music recently issued a CD of the complete original cast recording.

His most prominent symphonic compositions include the Jamestown Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (2007), written to observe the 400th anniversary of the first permanent colony in America in Jamestown, Virginia. It was released on CD by Naxos Records with Yehuda Hanani as soloist and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra conducted by William Eddins. His Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra was written for and recorded by Armando Ghitalla with the composer conducting. A Naxos recording called Music for Great Films of the Silent Era includes his Three Rhapsodies for Piano and Orchestra with Michael Chertock, the Gemini Concerto for Violin, Piano and Orchestra, written for the Albek Duo, and the whimsical orchestral suite, Six Title Themes in Search of a Movie. Paul Phillips conducted, and orchestrations were provided by Robert Nowak.

William Perry conducting the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus.
 

His latest Naxos recording, a second volume of Music for Great Films of the Silent Era, features a song-suite for mezzo soprano and orchestra entitled Silent Film Heroines. It celebrates eight leading actresses of the silent film era and features the brilliant Canadian mezzo soprano, Wallis Giunta. On the same CD is a unique Concerto for Ophicleide and Orchestra with Australian soloist Nick Byrne, a new recording of the Summer Nocturne with flute virtuoso Timothy Hutchins, and a piece commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War One based on Perry's score for the D.W. Griffith film, Hearts of the World. This last selection includes Wallis Giunta and baritone John Brancy, with participation again by Paul Phillips as conductor and Robert Nowak as orchestrator.

Perry's next recording project will include his Overtures from Eight Decades and the Wind in the Willows Ballet Suite.

List of Works

Stage musicals

• On the Double (1946)
• Xanadu (1953)
• Happily Ever After (1967)
• Wind in the Willows (1985)
• Mark Twain Musical (1987)

Film and television scores

• Life on the Mississippi (1980)
• The Private History of a Campaign That Failed (1981)
• The Mysterious Stranger (1982)
• The Innocents Abroad (1983)
• Pudd'nhead Wilson (1984)
• Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1985)

Silent Film Scores (Selection)

• The Gold Rush • It • Metropolis
• The General • Broken Blossoms • Intolerance
• The Mark of Zorro • The Black Pirate • Sparrows
• Blood and Sand • Riders of the Purple Sage • The Last Laugh
• Orphans of the Storm • Way Down East • Storm Over Asia
• The Beloved Rogue • The Iron Horse • Stella Dallas
• Down to the Sea in Ships • Tempest • Seventh Heaven
• Hearts of the World • Tillie's Punctured Romance • What Price Glory?
  • College  

Major Orchestral Works

• Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra (1986)
• Two Dance Pieces for Trumpet and Orchestra (1986)
• Summer Nocturne for Flute and Orchestra (1988)
• Mark Twain Orchestral Suites (1992)
• Jamestown Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (2007)
• Six Title Themes in Search of a Movie (2007)
• Gemini Concerto: An Entertainment for Violin, Piano and Orchestra (2009)
• The Silent Years: Three Rhapsodies for Piano and Orchestra (2010)
• Brass from the Past: Concerto for Ophicleide and Orchestra (2012)
• Silent Film Heroines: A Song-Suite for Mezzo Soprano and Orchestra (2013)
• Market Street Overture (2014)
• Hearts of the World (2014)