Two books on Dimitri Tiomkin are great starting points to learn more about the composer’s life and music. Tiomkin’s autobiography, Please Don’t Hate Me, published in 1959, contains a first-hand account of his early years in Russia, on making his way in the concert music world from Berlin to Paris, on his entry into vaudeville in America with choreographer Albertina Rasch, and finally, to his work as a composer in Hollywood.
The biographical portion of Christopher Palmer’s book, Dimitri Tiomkin: A Portrait, draws heavily on the composer’s autobiography, with new material covering from the 1960s on. Palmer also offers a perspective on Tiomkin’s place in Hollywood and film music history as well as musical analysis of his work. The analysis, by the way, presents some thoughtful writing on the relationship between music and film and students would be well served by reading it.
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The British Film Institute published a dossier in 1986 in conjunction with retrospective screenings in London of films scored by Tiomkin. Derek Elley pulled together an interview director Curtis Lee Hanson conducted with Tiomkin published in Cinema magazine in July 1966, an essay by Palmer, and a reprint of Tiomkin’s “Composing for Films,” which first appeared in Films in Review in November 1951.
Published interviews with Tiomkin can be found in several magazines focusing on music. Etude magazine, geared toward pianists, printed an interview in February 1953 that publicist Dave A. Epstein conducted with Tiomkin. American composer Marion Bauer’s “Interview with Dimitri Tiomkin” appeared in Musical Leader in 1929. Tiomkin’s interview on composing his score for Lost Horizon appears in the March 20, 1937 issue of Pacific Coast Musician.
An interview-based entry by C. Sharpless Hickman appears in his “Movie and Music” column in The Music Journal in April 1955.
Cue magazine contains an interview-based article, “His Melodies Linger On,” by Los Angeles Times film critic Philip K. Scheuer in the March 23, 1957 issue.
Tiomkin was also the subject of numerous articles in magazines. Of interest is a post-World War II column by English composer Ernest Irving on Tiomkin’s music in Tempo, December 1946.
Christopher Palmer wrote “Dimitri Tiomkin: The Composer in Cinema” for Film in 1971 and 1972. The two-part article formed the basis for a chapter on Tiomkin in Palmer’s book, The Composer in Hollywood published in 1990. For Sight and Sound, Palmer wrote “Tiomkin: A Phenomenal Dramatic Instinct (Spring 1986). And he contributed “Dimitri Tiomkin: Master of the Symphonic Film Score” to Crescendo International in July 1972.
In addition to Curtis Lee Hanson’s interview, several other prominent film personalities have written about Tiomkin. Writer-director Carl Foreman wrote “Tiomkin by Foreman” for the July 31, 1961, issue of Variety.
Foreman and Tiomkin figure prominently in Glenn Frankel’s recent book, High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic.
Composer David Raksin penned an illuminating article for The Cue Sheet (issue 10:3–4, 1993–1994) featuring a recollection of his orchestrations for Tiomkin’s score for The Road Back.
Tiomkin himself wrote a number of articles on the craft of composing music for films, several early in his Hollywood career. “Screen Music, Better, Dooms Concert Stage” in Exhibitors Daily Review on November 30, 1929, and “A New Field for Composers” can be found in The Musical Observer of July 1930.
“Writing Symphonically for the Screen” and “The Music of Hollywood” appeared in the Music Journal, January 195 and November-December 1962, respectively.
For Variety from 1957 to 1962, Tiomkin contributed several articles on the aesthetics and business of film music. For a list, see page 473 in Warren M. Sherk’s Film and Television Music: A Guide to Books, Articles, and Composer Interviews.
This website often draws attention to current writings on Tiomkin.
Interested in further reading? Check out our page on books available from amazon.com.
Other resources include the Media History Digital Library.