On this day in 1914, musician George Bruns was born in Sandy, Oregon. A composer of music for film & television, he was nominated for 4 Academy Awards over his lifetime. Although a Disney Legend since 2001 (18 years after his death), his name may only be familiar to some Disney fans ... but his music is most definitely familiar to all Disney fans.
First enrolling at Oregon State Agriculture College in 1932 to study engineering, Bruns spent most of his time on and off campus playing music (he had first learned to play the piano at age six). He played tuba in the ROTC band and string bass in a local popular orchestra. In 1934 he cut short his studies to become a full-time musician. Bruns played around the Northwest with his own swing/jazz band (which included a trumpeter named Doc Severenson - who would later have great success as the musical director for The Tonight Show). Finding the local Oregon music scene limiting, Bruns moved to California in 1950.
Based out of Los Angeles, Bruns began arranging and conducting for Capitol Records and UPA Studios, while still playing live in bands (including one led by Tennessee Ernie Ford). By 1953 Walt Disney was looking for someone to do the music for Sleeping Beauty and Bruns accepted the job. He would stay at Disney for 22 years. As one of three musical directors at Disney, Bruns worked in both TV and film.
His best-known works include "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" & "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)." Bruns' famous Davy Crockett tune (first recorded in 1955 and written for Walt's Disneyland series about the famous frontiersman) was co-written with lyricist Tom W. Blackburn. His Pirate anthem (originally used for the park attraction and later the feature film) was co-written with Xavier Atencio. Bruns also wrote the song "Love" for the animated Robin Hood as well as music for The Jungle Book, The Absent-minded Professor, Babes in Toyland, The Aristocats and Herbie the Love Bug. In his spare time, he also played tuba and trombone for Ward Kimball's Dixieland jazz band The Firehouse Five Plus Two. In all, Bruns contributed to over an amazing 200 motion pictures and television shows (which also included Zorro and Mickey Mouse Club).
He retired in 1975 and moved back to Oregon where he conducted, played, composed, and taught music. He passed away in March 1983.
"Walt was always good to me personally. He pretty much let me go my own way, trusting my own musical sense of what was right." -George Bruns
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