Dave Grusin  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

David Grusin (born June 26, 1934) is an American composer, arranger and pianist. Grusin has composed many scores for feature films and television, and he has won numerous awards for his soundtrack work. Although he has worked in many musical styles, Grusin is often thought of as a jazz or smooth jazz artist. In his soundtrack work he has forged a signature sound of largely strings- and piano-dominated, through-composed themes with a solid melodic foundation, often injecting strong jazz sensibilities and fusing pop and classical stylings.



Grusin was born in Littleton, Colorado, the son of Rosabelle (née De Poyster), a pianist, and Henri Grusin, a violinist who immigrated from Riga, Latvia. An alumnus of the University of Colorado at Boulder, College of Music who was awarded his bachelor's degree in 1956, Grusin has a filmography of about 100 titles. His many awards include an Oscar for best original score for The Milagro Beanfield War, as well as Oscar nominations for The Champ, The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Firm, Havana, Heaven Can Wait, and On Golden Pond. He also received a best original song nomination for "It Might Be You" from the film Tootsie. Six of the fourteen cuts on the soundtrack from The Graduate are his. Other film scores he has composed include Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?, Three Days of the Condor, The Goonies, Tequila Sunrise, Hope Floats, Random Hearts, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and The Firm.

For television, he was the conductor for The Andy Williams Show (1963–1965) and the composer of the theme songs for such series as It Takes a Thief (1968), The Name of the Game (1968), Dan August (1970), The Sandy Duncan Show (1971-1972) Maude (1972), Good Times (1974), Baretta (1975), and St. Elsewhere (1982). He also composed music for individual episodes of each of those shows. His other TV credits include The Wild Wild West (1966), The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. (1966), and Columbo: Prescription: Murder (1968). He also did the theme song for One Life to Live (1968) from 1984–1992.

About 35 Grusin CD titles are currently available including soundtracks, originals, collections, and homages to jazz greats George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, and Henry Mancini. Recently he has turned his attention to his own compositions. As in much of his career, these defy easy classification. They can be heard on CD's in collaboration with major artists including Lee Ritenour, James Taylor, and Renee Fleming. In addition to Grusin's jazz, film work and other collaborations, he has also lent his talents as a producer / arranger / musician to numerous albums by artists including Paul Simon, Sergio Mendes, Quincy Jones, Al Jarreau, Patti Austin, Dave Valentin and Sadao Watanabe. Billy Joel has also on occasion tapped Grusin for horn and string arrangements - Grusin arranged the horns on "Half A Mile Away" for Joel's "52nd Street" album, and contributed horn and string arrangements to Joel's 1982 concept album "The Nylon Curtain."

Grusin and Larry Rosen co-founded GRP Records in 1978. In 1994, GRP was in charge of MCA's (soon to be renamed Universal Music Group) jazz operations. Founders Grusin and Rosen left in 1995 and were replaced by Tommy LiPuma. In 1997, Grusin and Rosen co-founded N2K Encoded Music (after renamed N-Coded Music).

He received honorary doctorates from Berklee College of Music in 1988 and University of Colorado, College of Music in 1989.

Dave is married to Nan Newton. He is the father of music editor Stuart Grusin, music editor and musician Scott Grusin, and aerospace engineer Michael Grusin. He is the stepfather of artist Annie Vought, and elder brother of keyboardist Don Grusin and sister Dee Grusin.

Awards and recognition

  • Academy Award Nominee, 1978 "Best Original Score" for Heaven Can Wait
  • Academy Award Nominee, 1979 "Best Original Score" for The Champ
  • Academy Award Nominee, 1981 "Best Original Score" for On Golden Pond
  • Academy Award Nominee, 1982 "Best Original Song" for "It Might Be You", from Tootsie
  • Golden Globe Nominee, 1988 "Best Original Score" for The Milagro Beanfield War
  • Academy Award Winner, 1988 "Best Original Score" for The Milagro Beanfield War
  • Academy Award Nominee, 1989 "Best Original Score" for The Fabulous Baker Boys
  • Golden Globe Nominee, 1989 "Best Original Score" for The Fabulous Baker Boys
  • Grammy Award Winner, 1989 "Best Album, Original Background Score for a Motion Picture or Television" for The Fabulous Baker Boys
  • Grammy Award Winner, 1989 "Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals" for "My Funny Valentine"
  • Academy Award Nominee, 1990 "Best Original Score" for Havana
  • Golden Globe Nominee, 1990 "Best Original Score" for Havana
  • Grammy Award Winner, 1990 "Best Album of Original Instrumental Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television" for The Fabulous Baker Boys
  • Grammy Award Winner, 1990 "Best Arrangement on an Instrumental" Suite for The Milagro Beanfield War
  • Grammy Award Winner, 1991 "Best Arrangement on an Instrumental" for "Bess You Is My Woman/I Loves You Porgy"
  • Golden Globe Nominee, 1991 "Best Original Score" for For The Boys
  • Academy Award Nominee, 1993 "Best Original Score" for The Firm
  • Grammy Award Winner, 1993 "Best Arrangement on an Instrumental" for "Mood Indigo"
  • Grammy Award Winner, 1994 "Best Instrumental Arrangement" for "Three Cowboy Songs"
  • Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s), 2002 for "Mean Old Man", from the album October Road by James Taylor


  • Subways are for Sleeping - 1962
  • Piano, Strings, and Moonlight - 1963
  • Kaleidoscope - 1964
  • The Yakuza (Motion Picture Soundtrack) - 1975
  • Discovered Again - 1976
  • One of A Kind - 1977
  • The Champ (Motion Picture Soundtrack) - 1979
  • Mountain Dance - 1980
  • Dave Grusin Presents GRP All-Stars Live In Japan - 1980
  • Out of the Shadows - 1982
  • Night Lines - 1983
  • NY/LA Dream Band - 1984
  • Harlequin (w/ Lee Ritenour) - 1985
  • Cinemagic - 1987
  • Collection - 1988
  • Little Big Horn (w/ Gerry Mulligan) - 1988; GRP Records
  • Sticks and Stones (w/ Don Grusin) - 1988
  • The Fabulous Baker Boys (Motion Picture Soundtrack) - 1989
  • Migration - 1989
  • Havana (Motion Picture Soundtrack) - 1990
  • The Bonfire of the Vanities (Motion Picture Soundtrack) - 1991
  • The Gershwin Connection - 1991
  • The Firm (Motion Picture Soundtrack) - 1993
  • Dave Grusin and the GRP All-Star Big Band - 1993
  • Homage to Duke - 1993
  • The Orchestral Album - 1994
  • The Cure (Motion Picture Soundtrack) - 1995
  • Two for the Road - 1996
  • Mulholland Falls (Motion Picture Soundtrack) - 1996
  • Dave Grusin Presents: West Side Story - 1997
  • Random Hearts (Motion Picture Soundtrack) - 1999
  • Two Worlds (cd) (w/ Lee Ritenour featuring guest performances by Renee Fleming, Julian Lloyd Webber and Gil Shaham) - 2000
  • The Very Best of Dave Grusin - 2002
  • Now Playing: Movie Themes - Solo Piano - 2005
  • The Yakuza (Motion Picture Soundtrack, complete score, Film Score Monthly limited edition of 3000 copies) - 1975 / 2005
  • Lucas (Motion Picture Soundtrack, Varese Sarabande CD Club limited edition of 2000 copies) - 1986 / 2006
  • Author! Author! (Motion Picture Soundtrack, Varese Sarabande CD Club limited edition of 2000 copies) - 1982 / 2007
  • The Scorpio Letters (Motion Picture Soundtrack, Film Score Monthly limited edition of 3000 copies) - 1967 / 2007
  • Amparo (w/ Lee Ritenour) - 2008
  • The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. (Motion Picture Soundtrack) - 1967 / 2008
  • The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (Motion Picture Soundtrack, Film Score Monthly limited edition of 3000 copies) - 1968 / 2009


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Dave Grusin" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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