Albert Harris

Albert Harris (13 February 1916 – 14 February 2005) was an English musician who worked most of his life in Hollywood as an orchestrator, arranger and composer for several of the big Film Studios and for such pop icons as Barbra Streisand, Roberta Flack and Cher.

Harris was born in London and studied piano from age 6 and was also a self-taught guitarist; his knowledge of this instrument enabled him in later years to compose pieces specifically for guitar (his Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel was recorded by Andrés Segovia). During the mid-1930s he began to make a name for himself as a session musician in London where he featured on many recordings, most notably as session guitarist with the Lew Stone band, his delicate but swinging improvisations enhancing many of Stones records during the 1934-35 period. He came to New York in 1938 at which time he started playing piano in big bands across the U.S., after which he began studying at New York University's College of Music where he earned a doctorate in music in 1944. Before earning his doctorate he moved to Los Angeles in 1942. Albert Harris studied composition with Mary Carr Moore and Eugen Zador in Los Angeles, and conducting with Richard Lert. He is a recipient of several awards for choral pieces, songs, and an octet for French Horn from the Los Angeles Horn Club. Albert Harris served as professor of orchestration at UCLA. He was Assistant Musical Director for NBC from 1946–49.

In 1959, conductor Frank deVol recorded an album of Harris's compositions, Bacchanal, which was 15 pieces, each named for a Greek god.

"Music Service Incorporated" (MSI) was formed by Harris and two colleagues (one of whom was Nelson Riddle) and was responsible for the music for four TV Shows: "Mary Tyler Moore – Dick Van Dyke Show," "Ray Bolger Show," "Danny Thomas Show," and "Andy Griffith Show."

He was music director for Barbra Streisand on the TV special "Barbra and Other Instruments," music orchestrator and arranger for Cher’s album "Bittersweet Moonlight" and was music arranger for Roberta Flack for appearances in Hollywood. Harris was the composer and conductor for Quinn Martin Productions, specifically "Cannon", "Barnaby Jones", "Streets of San Francisco" and "FBI." Over a period of 30 years, Mr. Harris was employed by all the major film studios as an orchestrator and composer.

A popular teacher and lecturer in Los Angeles, he was invited to speak at the Santa Barbara Academy of the West by Darius Milhaud. While he was president of the American Society of Music Arrangers (a post he held from 1989–91), he co-lectured at a composer's workshop with Henry Mancini.

Albert Harris was a member of Composers and Lyricists Guild of America, on the board of directors of the American Society of Music Arrangers. He won the National Composer's Award for his "Concerto de California" scored for guitar and String Quartet. Among those nominating Harris was Aaron Copland with whom Harris shares a harmonic language that, in the words of Ned Rorem, "sounds like the great outdoors". Harris retired from film and television work in 1990.

He married Diane Smith, from New Zealand, in California in 1986, and the couple retired to New Zealand in 1992. He died in Auckland. He is survived by his wife Diane Harris and his sister Bette Friedman.

Birth and Death Data: Born February 13, 1916 (London), Died February 14, 2005

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1936 - 1952

Roles Represented in DAHR: guitar, leader

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BS-043945 10-in. 12/1/1939 Calling all bars Sextet of the Rhythm Club of London Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-043946 10-in. 12/1/1939 Mighty like the blues Hazel Scott ; Sextet of the Rhythm Club of London Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-043947 10-in. 12/1/1939 You gave me the go-by Hazel Scott ; Sextet of the Rhythm Club of London Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-043948 10-in. 12/1/1939 Why didn't William Tell? Pete Barry ; Sextet of the Rhythm Club of London Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca L 6693 3/27/1952 Jack and the beanstalk, part 1 Bud Abbott ; Lou Costello leader  
Decca L 6694 3/27/1952 Jack and the beanstalk, part 2 Bud Abbott ; Lou Costello leader  
Decca CE 7765 10-in. 7/15/1936 Drummer goes to town Joe Daniels and his Hot Shots instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca CE 7766 10-in. 7/15/1936 I got rhythm Joe Daniels and his Hot Shots instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca CE 7767 10-in. 7/15/1936 Beale Street blues Joe Daniels and his Hot Shots instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca CE 7768 10-in. 7/15/1936 Japanese sandman Joe Daniels and his Hot Shots instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca CE 7769 10-in. 7/21/1936 After you've gone Joe Daniels and his Hot Shots instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca CE 7770 10-in. 7/21/1936 Cuban Pete Joe Daniels and his Hot Shots instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca CE 7894 10-in. 10/21/1936 Loveless love Joe Daniels and his Hot Shots instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca CE 7895 10-in. 10/21/1936 Who? Joe Daniels and his Hot Shots instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca CE 7898 10-in. 10/21/1936 I can't give you anything but love Joe Daniels and his Hot Shots instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca CE 7899 10-in. 10/21/1936 Alexander's ragtime band Joe Daniels and his Hot Shots instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca CE 8611 10-in. 9/28/1937 Avalon Joe Daniels and his Hot Shots instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca CE 8612 10-in. 9/28/1937 Ain't misbehavin' Joe Daniels and his Hot Shots instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca CE 8613 10-in. 9/28/1937 For me and my gal Joe Daniels and his Hot Shots instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca CE 8614 10-in. 9/28/1937 Swing, swing, swing Joe Daniels and his Hot Shots instrumentalist, guitar  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Harris, Albert," accessed June 20, 2024, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/204279.

Harris, Albert. (2024). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/204279.

"Harris, Albert." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2024. Web. 20 June 2024.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/204279

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