Composer Laurence Rosenthal will be honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at 23rd World Soundtrack Awards

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News 20 Apr 2023
Composer Laurence Rosenthal is set to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 23rd edition of the World Soundtrack Awards, which takes place as the concluding event of Film Fest Gent on Saturday 21 October. The 50th edition of the festival crowns two grandmasters of the world of film music in its anniversary year. Earlier, it was announced that Italian composer Nicola Piovani will be a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award as well.

A veteran composer for film, television and theatre, Laurence Rosenthal has been a musical force for decades and has built a distinguished career since the fifties. In his more than six decades-spanning career, the American composer has written music for over a hundred films and television shows, such as George Lucas’ The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992) and its subsequent TV movies, earning him critical acclaim and countless accolades, including three additional Emmys, to go with his previous four.

Born in Detroit in 1926, Rosenthal began his music studies at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Upon graduation, he moved to Paris to study composition with Nadia Boulanger and to Salzburg to learn conducting at the Mozarteum. Later, while serving in the U.S. Air Force, he was chief composer in the Air Force Documentary Film Squadron. After his military service, he went back to New York and began composing for Broadway theatre and motion pictures. Rosenthal’s early work for feature films include the scores for Daniel Petrie’s A Raisin in the Sun (1961) and Arthur Penn’s Oscar-winning film The Miracle Worker (1962).

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In the 60s, Rosenthal had a strong creative partnership with actor-director Peter Glenville, for whom he wrote three original film scores, starting with a film version of Becket in 1964 that earned Rosenthal an Oscar nomination for Best Original Score, and continuing with two other successful features, Hotel Paradiso (1966) and The Comedians (1967). Rosenthal’s first collaboration with Glenville was an exotic score for a Broadway theatrical version of the classic Japanese film of Kurosawa, Rashomon. The composer picked up a second Oscar nomination in 1972 with the score for Arthur Hiller’s Man of La Mancha. Other highly acclaimed film scores include The Return of a Man Called Horse (1976), The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977), Meetings with Remarkable Men (1979), Clash of the Titans (1981), and the last film of both Jack Lemmon and George C. Scott, Inherit the Wind (1999).

Rosenthal has composed extensively for television, winning seven Emmy Awards. His first Emmy win was his score for the NBC documentary Michelangelo: The Last Giant (1965). His compositions for TV mini series Peter the Great (1986), Anastasia (1986) and The Bourne Identity (1988) also won Emmy Awards. Rosenthal’s arguably best-known work for television however, is the triple Emmy-winning music for the popular series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and its complementary TV films, along with the iconic Fantasy Island (1977). Rosenthal’s classic original Fantasy Island theme is once again being heard in the 2021 reboot of the series from Fox, now in its second season.

Rosenthal color© Daniel Munier, Diem Productions

"I am greatly honoured by this recognition from the World Soundtrack Awards and am so much looking forward to being present for the 50th anniversary edition of Film Fest Gent. It has been so lovely to see appreciation of film music and the enjoyment of live film music reaching new heights in recent years. The World Soundtrack Awards has been so vital in leading the way. Music in a film has the capacity of representing what the eye does not see. Beyond its more conventional functions of underscoring action and providing atmosphere of locale and time period, film music can offer an interior view of what is happening on the screen, often remarkably probing inside a character’s mind and feeling and mirroring mental and emotional states, an additional dimension to story and visual impression. An average viewer may often be completely unaware of music’s role, but nevertheless responds subconsciously and its sounds will influence their relation to what they are seeing." - Laurence Rosenthal, March 2023.

Awarded annually, the Lifetime Achievement Award is one of the highest honours bestowed by the World Soundtrack Academy and Film Fest Gent upon a composer for screen. Previous recipients include - amongst others - George Martin, Krzysztof Penderecki, Frédéric Devreese, Eleni Karaindrou, Gabriel Yared, Peer Raben and Bruno Coulais.

At the 23rd edition of the World Soundtrack Awards, Laurence Rosenthal will be joined by Nicola Piovani, also Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, and 2022 Discovery of the Year Award winner Eiko Ishibashi. A selection of their scores will be performed by Brussels Philharmonic, conducted by Maestro Dirk Brossé.


The 23rd World Soundtrack Awards Ceremony & Concert takes place on Saturday 21 October in Capitole Gent.