Bert Shefter

Bert Abram Shefter was born on May 15, 1904 in Poltova,Russia.  He attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music, and the Damrosch Institute. He studied piano with such masters as Josef Hofmann, Benno Moiseiwitsch, and David Saperton, and from 1930 to 1936 he performed in theaters and on radio as half of the “Shefter and Gould” piano duo with Morton Gould. 

Shefter was a well-known concert pianist, appearing with many orchestras as both a soloist and conductor.  From 1946 to 1947 he was guest conductor at Carnegie Hall, and some of the orchestras he worked with included The Hollywood Bowl Symphony, The London Philharmonia, The New York Philharmonic, and The Santa Cecilia Academy Orchestra in Rome.  He also conducted his own orchestra featuring his compositions and arrangements for New York radio stations WOR, NBC, and WINS, where he was musical director.  Shefter recorded for the Victor, Decca, and Brunswick labels, as well as for Muzak. 

He began his film composing career in 1950, and among the more than sixty movies he worked on, some of his favorites included The Big Circus, A Dog of Flanders, The Fly, Jack the Giant Killer, Misty,Monkey on My Back, Sins of Jezebel, The Tall Texan, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Other film work was done for The Big Show, Cattle Empire, Cattle King, The Deerslayer, Gun Duel in Durango, The Last Man on Earth, The Lost World, Pier 5 Havana, Return of the Fly, Villa!!, and Wind Across the Everglades. Shefter contributed to about 900 television scores, and his long association with Warner Brothers resulted in him being heavily-represented in shows such as 77 Sunset Strip, Bourbon Street Beat,Bronco, Cheyenne, Hawaiian Eye, Lawman, Maverick, The Roaring 20’s, Sugarfoot, Surfside 6, and others. 

Much of his work in film and television was in collaboration with Paul Sawtell, their partnership beginning in 1957 and lasting until Sawtell’s death in 1971.  Shefter wrote instrumental pieces and popular songs both before and during his film career, with some of them being “Aeroplane and the Bee,” “Boogie Woogie Etudes,” “Haydn Seek,” “It’s Grieg to Me,” “The Lamp Is Low,” “Moonbeams,” “Portrait of the Duke,” “Prairie Portrait,” “Sonata Pathetic,” “Tic-Toc,” “Traffic in Times Square,” and “Twilight Serenade.”  He passed away on June 29, 1999.


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