Obituaries » Robert Gerald Bornstein
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May 14, 1928 - February 18, 2022
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Robert G. (Bob) Bornstein
Violinist, Arranger, Orchestrator and Copyist
Robert Bornstein began his career as the youngest violinist in the New Jersey Youth Orchestra. While still in his teens, he taught himself to transpose and copy the orchestra parts for the songs “Angelina” and “Don’t Squeeza da Banana” for the Louis Prima Orchestra. He began to study arranging and orchestrating for several traveling orchestras in New Jersey.
On the day after high school graduation, Bob boarded a train for Los Angeles, CA. Upon arrival, he transferred his porfessional membership to the LA Musicians Union, Local 47. After a few months of side-lining motion pictures, parties and other casual work, he joined an orchestra that was hired by the Last Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas. During this time, he traveled to Los Angeles one night a week (after playing at the Frontier until midnight) to take lessons in orchestration and composition from calssical film composer Ernst Toch. He then returned to Nevada the same day for the evening performance.
After this engagement, Bob returned to LA as a freelance musician. IN 1947 he was introduced to Jimmy Durante by his piano player, who had written a new composition for which Bob had made a full orchestral arrangement and had recorded. Jimmy was so impressed that he made Bob the chief arranger of all of his performances – live television, and for his publishing company. Bob had a great relationship with Jimmy and spent many mornings having breakfast with him at Jimmy’s home in Beverly Hills. When Bob received a draft notice at the beginning of the Korean War (1951), Jimmy sent a letter to the dreaft board requesting that he be excused. Of course, the request for release from military service was refused and Bob was inducted into the U.S. Army. Bob and Jimmy were very close friends until Jimmy’s passing in 1980.
After Bob’s induction into the army, he was released from basic training and sent to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he served four years as Chief Arranger to the USMA Band (comprised of 100 musicians). He received a special commendation from commanding officer Lt. Col. Francis E. Resta.
After completing his military service in 1954, Bob returned to Los Angeles and freelanced, spending most of his time at major motion picture studios. In 1972 he was selected to supervise music preparation for all of Lorimar Television’s programs, a position he held until Lorimar’s closing in 1993. Bob worked at most of the other studios at different periods of time – the last being Paramount Pictures, where he was in charge of music production for over thirty years. During this time he produced and prepared the music for the Academy Awards (32 years) and the Peoples Choice Awards, as well as numerous motion pictures such as “Avatar” and “Titanic” by James Horner, with whom he worked for many years. Bob is also grateful to his dear friend, composer, pianist and conductor Bill Conti, for the opportunity to work with him on more Academy Awards shows than anyone else at that time, as well as numerous films and concerts.