ASMAC Members Part of Disney Musical Legacy

29 May 2023

Mark Watters conducting in the center. Hand copied piano/conductor score from the film "Snow White." For the ASMAC (American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers) event on Composers and Orchestrators of Disney (Part 1) [in an Art Deco font] with Mark Watters and Caleb Nelson.
In celebration of Disney’s 100 Years of Wonder, we take a look at some of the past ASMAC members who have been so integral to the Disney musical legacy, including composer Leigh Harline who wrote the melody that continues to open most Disney films even to this day, “When You Wish Upon a Star.”

Join us online for this free event on Saturday, 15 July 2023, noon PDT (UTC-07) as Mark Watters and Caleb Nelson take us through the Composers & Orchestrators of Disney (Part 1). Rare photographs of those former ASMAC composers and orchestrators below, scores, stories, and more will be shared. Should be a fun and educational event!

  • Buddy Baker — Disney staff composer from 1954–1983, including The Mickey Mouse Club as well as scoring Winnie the Pooh and The Haunted Mansion ride among many other Disney films and television shows.
    For more from Buddy, himself, listen to this 30 April 2001 interview with Buddy Baker by Jon Burlingame (hosted at the Television Academy).
  • Sonny Burke — co-composer of the songs for Lady and the Tramp.
    Sonny Burke papers collection at Duke — includes 76 big band arrangements.
  • Ken Darby — choral arranger on Pinocchio, Dumbo, Make Mine Music, Fun and Fancy Free, Melody Time.
    Ken Darby papers at BYU. A Centennial Tribute to Ken Darby at
  • Joseph S. Dubin — Disney staff orchestrator on many films including Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, 20.000 Leagues Under the Sea and the True-Life Adventures. Wikipedia entry for Joseph S. Dubin.
  • Charles Eggett — music copyist on The Parent Trap and other Disney films.
  • Sidney Fine — orchestrator on Bambi, Cinderella as well as Lady and the Tramp & arranged Dinah Shore’s vocals for Bongo.
  • Leigh Harline — received two Academy Awards for his songs and score for Pinocchio, as well as composing much of the Snow White underscore including the music for the Magic Mirror.
    Finding aid for the Leigh Harline papers collection at the University of Cincinnati, Archive and Rare Books Library.
  • Charles Henderson — choral arranger on Fantasia and Bambi. Wikipedia entry.
  • William Lava — composer for The Mickey Mouse Club serials as well most of the underscore for Disney’s Zorro television series.
    William Lava papers (1942–1970) at the American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
  • Charles Maxwell — William Lava’s orchestrator including on the Disney feature film The Littlest Outlaw. IMDb page.
  • Edward Plumb — co-composer on Bambi, musical director of Fantasia and orchestrator for Dumbo, Peter Pan and Davy Crockett, among many other Disney projects. Wikipedia.
  • Walter Sheets — Disney staff orchestrator from 1960 until 1983 including The Jungle Book. He receives an orchestration credit on at least 60 Disney films. IMDb page.
  • Paul J. Smith — arranging and composing on Snow White and also received an Academy Award for Pinocchio, as well as scoring most of the True-Life Adventures, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Shaggy Dog and The Parent Trap. Wikipedia.
  • Fred Stark — received a special commendation from Los Angeles for his work as the Disney orchestra contractor and music librarian, as well as conducting the Grand Canyon Suite for the Disney short and musical supervision on the Disney film about Beethoven. IMDb page.
  • Alex Steinert — conducted the Bambi score, as well as doing some arranging on that film. Alexander Steinert Papers, JPB 06-62 in the Music Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
  • Clifford Vaughan — Oliver Wallace’s orchestrator on several Disney films including Old Yeller and Darby O’Gill. IMDb page.
    Clifford Vaughan musical compositions, [1925]-1987 at UCLA Library Special Collections.
  • Oliver G. Wallace — received an Academy Award for Dumbo, as well composing the scores for Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan & Lady and the Tramp. IMDb page. Wikipedia. Discography of American Historical Recordings.
  • Charles Wolcott — orchestrator on Pinocchio, Bambi and music director on Disney’s musical films as well as traveling to South America for the Good Neighbor films. IMDb page. Wikipedia.

Members of ASMA New York Chapter

* Special thanks to Caleb Nelson for the Disney background. This is a partial list, many from a 1945 ASMA newsletter.

Additional Reading

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