Composer and keyboardist born in New Westminster, British Columbia, Ralph Edwin Grierson attended the University of Southern California from 1962 to 1968, earning Bachelor of Arts and Masters degrees in music, and during that time, managed to perform on the CBC radio show Sound of the ’60s and television programme Chorus Gentlemen.
After graduation, he stayed in Los Angeles and divided his time between classical music, film and television. He collaborated quite a bit with Michael Tilson Thomas , both as a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and recording in tandem Igor Stravinsky’s four-hand piano transcription of The Rite of Spring. Other artists with whom he has collaborated include Ray Charles, Neil Diamond , Rickie Lee Jones, and Randy Newman.
His keyboard virtuosity inspired a number of composers to write music specifically for him, and they have been chronicled on the avant-garde album, For Ralph Grierson:Commissioned Works for Keyboard, on Townhall Records.
Film credits include After Dark, My Sweet, Bicentennial Man, California Suite, Dad, Fantasia/2000 (in which he makes a cameo as, you guessed it, a pianist), The Horse Whisperer, Jumanji, Midnight Run, Nine Months, Oscar, Prancer, Rhapsody in Blue, Sophie’s Choice, and Thirteen Conversations About One Thing. He also composed the soundtracks for the TV movies Habitat, The Hired Heart, Red Earth, White Earth, and To Find My Son.
His 1975 album S’Wonderful was nominated for a Grammy, as was the soundtrack to Fantasia/2000, on which he performed George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”.
Here is his “The Town Follies” from Fried Green Tomatoes…