Kojak composer dies

Kojak composer dies


norman lebrecht

August 06, 2020

The highly esteemed Billy Goldenberg has died at 84.

He composed the themes for the TV series Kojak and Rhoda, as well as the pilot for Columbo and lost more.

Billy started out in New York as Frank Loeeser’s gofer. His mother was a professional violinist, his father played percussion. He learned music from the soles up.



  • drummerman says:

    His father was the legendary percussionist/teacher Morris “Mo” Goldenberg, one of the all time greats. I had the pleasure of working with his mother, Isabelle (“Izzy”) in the old Great Neck (NY) Symphony, where she was also the personnel manager.

    • NYMike says:

      Mo taught @ Juilliard and was on NBC staff when major b’cast networks had staff orchestras. I remember a holiday party @ their house that included Eleanor Slatkin, son Fred, and Alan Shulman among other revelers. Mo and Izzy were delightful people!

    • Greg Bottini says:

      So sorry to hear this. R.I.P., Billy.
      I had no idea that Billy was Mo Goldenberg’s son. How many hours I spent sweating through the etudes in the Mo Goldenberg mallet book! The pages in my copy are covered with little mallet craters, the results of my frustration.

  • Kevin Scott says:

    Fabulous composer who also scored one of Steven Spielberg’s first major films, the psychological thriller “Duel” with Dennis Weaver that was made for ABC television. His musical “Ballroom” is also one that showed another side of this composer’s talent. RIP.

  • Billy was the kindest human being I ever met. We became lifelong friends from my days as a student in New York. He could spin out a tune, adapt to the varying styles required and had a fantastic sense of humor. Although he had been ill for quite a while, Billy still retained that twinkle in his eyes. RIP my dear, dear friend.

  • Grittenhouse says:

    He was also Bea Arthur’s collaborator.