Maximilian Raoul Walter Steiner (May 10, 1888 – December 28, 1971) was an American-Jewish composer of Austrian descent known for composing the background music for numerous Hollywood classics such as "Gone with the Wind" and "Casablanca."
Steiner was born in Vienna and was the grandson of Maximilian Steiner, the influential manager of the Theater an der Wien (Vienna Theatre). Even in his childhood, he displayed a talent for composing and was considered a "child prodigy." As a young boy, he studied piano under the guidance of Johannes Brahms and later, as a teenager, enrolled at the Royal Academy of Arts and Music in Vienna, where he received instruction from Gustav Mahler. He completed the four-year curriculum in just one year. In 1914, he emigrated to the United States.
Steiner composed the background music for hundreds of Hollywood films, becoming one of the most influential composers in the industry. He primarily worked for Warner Bros. Studios and received a total of 26 Academy Award nominations, winning three Oscars.
Interestingly, his most famous work, the music for "Gone with the Wind," did not earn him an Oscar. He collaborated extensively with director Michael Curtiz, another Austro-Hungarian expatriate in Hollywood, on films such as "Casablanca" and "The Adventures of Robin Hood."
Steiner's arrival in Hollywood coincided with the rise of the "talkies" (sound films) and led to his pioneering contributions to film scoring. His compositions were tailored to complement the on-screen action and characters, effectively enhancing the emotional impact of the films. For over three decades, Steiner was the leading composer in the American film industry.
Steiner passed away in 1971 in Hollywood, California, at the age of 83 due to heart failure.
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