The late Max Steiner was one of the true pioneers of the genre known as movie music. In fact, Steiner was awarded the very first Oscar citation ever given by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his score for The Informer in 1935.
Born Maximilian Raoul Steiner in Vienna, Austria on May 10, 1888, Max grew up surrounded by music. A close family friend was Johann Strauss and both his father and grandfather were active Operetta producers. Steiner was trained in the classic European tradition, attending the Imperial Academy of Music in Vienna and completing the prescribed five?year program of courses in one and one half years and received the Academys Gold Medal. At 14, he wrote and conducted his first operetta, "Beautiful Greek Girl," which ran for a full year at The Orpheum Theater in Vienna.
In 1904, Steiner journeyed out of Austria for the first time, to England, where he conducted at Daly's Theater, The Adelphi Theater, The Hippodrome and the London Opera House. In 1914, Steiner accepted conducting stints in the Alhambra Theater in Paris and The Winter Garden in Blackpool.
Just prior to the opening of World War 1, Steiner accepted an invitation from the legendary Florenz Ziegfeld to come to America and conduct the Ziegfeld productions. Over the following years, he led many theater bands, toured, and became the chief orchestrator for Harms Music Company. At this leading music house in New York City, Max came into contact with some of America's best composers including Jerome Kern, Victor Herbert, Vincent Youmans, and George Gershwin, to name a few.