Robert Maxwell (songwriter)

Robert Maxwell (songwriter)

Robert Maxwell (born April 19, 1921) is a harpist and songwriter, who wrote the music for two well-known songs: "Ebb Tide" and "Shangri-La."

He was born in New York City. Neither of his parents had been involved in music, but at age 10 he began playing the harp. In high school, he won a scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music. At age 17, he became the youngest member of the National Symphony Orchestra. He also gave solo performances in both New York and Los Angeles. Among the conductors he performed under were Arturo Toscanini and Serge Koussevitsky.

He eventually found himself in the United States Coast Guard in a unit commanded by Rudy Vallee, giving him the opportunity to play the harp in a popular music context. Vallee arranged tours where he performed for servicemen, and he developed a talent for playing in a more down-to-earth style.

He entered a contest on radio station KFI in Los Angeles, failing to make the finals but gaining second prize. This led to many appearances on radio, television, and the movies, including one summer as replacement for Frank Sinatra on the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) network.

He went on to devising his own arrangements, and composed the three songs which gave him the biggest fame. "Ebb Tide" (1953) is a perennial favorite. "Shangri-La" hit #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1964. Previously, Maxwell had scored a hit with "Little Dipper" under the name The Mickey Mozart Quintet, which peaked at #30 in 1959. [Joel Whitburn, "The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits". 7th edn, 2000]

Another of his songs, "Solfeggio", performed by Maxwell's orchestra and the Ray Charles Singers, gained unexpected fame as the theme for the comedy skit called The Nairobi Trio.

Robert Maxwell is the father of well-known modern dancer, Carla Maxwell, artistic director of The Jose Limon Dance Company. * []


External links

*Biography of Maxwell on [ Music Match] site
*Biography of Maxwell on [ Space Age Musicmaker] site

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