Boris Claudio Schifrin was born into a musical family
in Argentina, where he father played violin at the Teatro Colon for the
Philharmonic Orchestra of Buenos Aires. It was not the violin young Boris would
take a fancy to, but the piano, which he started playing at the age of
six. His piano instructor was
Enrique Barenboim, father of concert pianist Daniel Barenboim. There must have been a practical
side to the teenage Schifrin, who was studying law and sociology at the
University of Buenos Aires when his application to the Paris Conservatoire
was accepted. Among his
teachers was Olivier Messiaen.
In spite of all his formal music training, Schifrin's real
love was jazz, and he soon became a fixture of the Paris club circuit. Shortly thereafter, he returned to
Buenos Aires and started his own band.
Much to his good fortune, Dizzy Gillespie was in the house and asked
him to be his arranger and pianist.
By 1960, Schifrin was living and working New York, playing piano in
Other notables with whom Schifrin performed were Count Basie, Ella
Fitzgerald, Stan Getz, and Sarah Vaughan. In 1963, MGM contracted him to
compose the score for Rhino!
Thus began the illustrious film and television career of Lalo
Schifrin. Although he is best
known for his theme to Mission
Impossible, Schifrin has scored more than one hundred TV shows and
films, including The Amityville
Horror, Bullitt, The Cincinnati Kid, Coogan's Bluff, Cool Hand Luke, The Dead Pool, Dirty
Harry, Enter The Dragon, The Four Musketeers, Kelly's Heroes, Magnum Force, The Osterman Weekend, and Sudden
Impact. His television
credits include Ben Casey, Dr. Kildare, Mannix, Medical Center,
Planet of the Apes, and Starsky and Hutch. He also composed the Paramount
Television jingle, which they used off and on for about seventeen
years. The "Tar
Sequence" from Cool Hand Luke
became a staple of evening news broadcasts on WABC-TV in New York and
WLS-TV in Chicago. In 1988, he
was awarded BMI's Lifetime Achievement Award and his own star on the
Hollywood Walk of Fame. Despite
these accomplishments, he has not let himself be pigeonholed as a film and
TV composer. He has
also contributed greatly to classical and jazz, having written over sixty
concert pieces, many of them combining the two genres. The most recent of these is Jazz Meets The Symphony #6, part of
an ongoing, Grammy-nominated series.
In 1987, the Paris Philharmonic Orchestra appointed him Musical
Director, a post he held for about five years. He was partially responsible for
bringing The Three Tenors together, at the World Cup Finals in 1990. His "Concerto for Guitar and
Orchestra" was recorded by Angel Romero and the London Philharmonic,
one of the many orchestras Schifrin has conducted. His "Piano Concerto No.
2" was conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich, with Cristina Ortiz as
soloist, along with the National Symphony Orchestra, at the Kennedy Center
in Washington, D.C., on 11th June 1992. He was instrumental in the production
of the popular Christmas in Vienna
special, arranging the music for Jose Carreras, Natalie Cole, and Placido
Domingo. It first aired on 23rd
December 1995 and continues to be a holiday favourite. As a conductor, he has worked with
the London Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Vienna
Symphony Orchestra, among others.
He has won four Grammys and a special BMI award for the oft-used Mission Impossible theme. He continues to tour in support of
his Jazz Meets the Symphony
series, and lives with his wife Donna in Beverly Hills in what used to be
Groucho Marx's mansion.
They have been married for over thirty years and have three
children, Frances, Ryan and William, and their own recording label, Aleph
Records. Schifrin's music
has been introduced to a new audience in an unlikely fashion, as an
oft-sampled composer in the hip-top and trip-hop genres: His "Danube Incident"
appears in both Heltah Skeltah's "Prowl" and
Portishead's "Sour Times".
All for the
Love of Sunshine (Lalo Schifrin)
"Medical Center" (Lalo Schifrin)
from "The Concorde - Airport '79" (Lalo
"The Concorde - Airport '79" (Lalo Schifrin)