The Spanish government awarded Dimitri Tiomkin the Order of Queen Isabella, one of Spain’s highest decorations in 1964.
The presentation of the Cruz de Caballero de la Orden de Isabel la Católica (Order of Isabella the Catholic) took place at Perino’s Restaurant in Los Angeles on July 30, 1964. The Consul of Spain, Eduardo Toda, was on hand for the awarding of the Knight’s Cross, a decoration consisting of a red-enameled cross, with a golden frame.
Neither religious nor military in nature, the Order is a civil order of merit that rewards outstanding achievements in cultural, social, or civic circles for services that benefit Spain. Two Tiomkin-scored historical epics, The Fall of the Roman Empire and 55 Days at Peking, were filmed in Spain and Tiomkin was a guest in Madrid on many occasions.
In his address, Toda recounted that Spain has been home to such musicians and artists as El Greco, Picasso, de Falla, Segovia, Casals, and Iturbi. And that the decoration was awarded by the Chief of the Spanish State to Tiomkin for his talented contribution to music.
In accepting the honor, Tiomkin said he appreciated that a motion picture musician was singled out and spoke of how the country of Spain was dear to his heart from its rich cultural heritage to the strings of the guitar.
The attendees included members of the Los Angeles Consular Corps, the Latin American Consular Association, Los Angeles civic leaders, armed forces personnel, motion picture stars and executives, and friends of both Toda and Tiomkin. Actress Rita Hayworth and singer Nat Cole sent congratulatory telegrams.
Columnist Hedda Hopper’s newspaper column the next day noted the honor. And after attending the evening celebration, in a handwritten letter to Tiomkin songwriter Mack David wrote, “Your contribution to the musical world is far greater than just the many excellent scores you have composed. You have brought increased stature, dignity and importance to all members of your craft.”
READ: Hal David letter 1964