The Godfather’s conductor has died

The Godfather’s conductor has died


norman lebrecht

April 06, 2014

How many movie buffs can name him?

Paul Salamunovich conducted the chorus in major feature 10 movies and in the NBC series ER.

He sang solo on the soundtrack of How the West Was Won and prepared choruses for concerts conducted by Igor Stravinsky, Bruno Walter, Eugene Ormandy, Georg Solti, Carlo Maria Giulini, Simon Rattle and more.

Music director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale from 1991-2001, he died in Hollywood aged 86. Here’s a composer’s tale from his final days.

paul salamunovich


  • Martin Bernheimer says:

    Paul was something of a genius (and a self effacing one at that). Also a very nice man. We mourn.

  • M.A. Steinberger says:

    Got to play the most wonderful memorable Mozart Requiem under his baton a couple of years ago. I’m especially grateful, as the previous one I did was with a posturing, self-dramatizing baton owner.

  • The finest performance I ever heard of the Durufle Requiem was one Paul conducted for the ACDA Eastern Division Conference at Trinity Church in Boston. The group was a select high school choir, and 1 of my chorus students was in it. It was so beautiful that the tears were running down my face. The high school student, who is now an anesthesiologist, is still involved in music and remembers that performance day, too. Paul was one of the best and will surely continue conducting in heaven!

  • Joe DeStefano says:

    Actually, it was quite a few more than 10 movies. He was also one of the only parish chorus directors to conduct before a Pope. Not once but several times, including taking a semi-professional group to sing mass for Pope John Paul II in the papal chapel, on the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul. The only church choir ever so honored. After which, the Pope was reported to tell him, “I wish you had my choir, and I yours.” An artist, a powerful force for singing, not just choral singing, and a warm dear man. The world has lost a great artist, and we who sang for him, learned from him, have lost a friend, a mentor, and a light in our lives.