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Voices of Walter Schumann

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Biography

Choral director, conductor, and arranger Walter Schumann was born October 8, 1913, in New York City; he later studied law at the University of Southern California, but as his collegiate dance band earned a devoted campus following he ultimately quit school to pursue music full-time. By the late '30s Schumann was working with the likes of Eddie Cantor and Andre Kostelanetz; during World War II he also served as musical director of the Armed Forces Radio Service, later conducting the touring orchestra that supported the Irving Berlin revue This Is the Army. After the war ended Schumann went to Hollywood, where he conducted and arranged music for countless film and television productions; among his most notable projects was the score to the cult classic The Night of the Hunter. While by the mid-'50s Schumann was known primarily for his instrumental work -- his immortal theme for the TV crime drama Dragnet won an Emmy award in 1955 -- he also harbored an affection for choral music that ultimately led to his formation of the group Voices of Walter Schumann. After issuing a self-titled LP for Capitol, the ensemble jumped to RCA Victor for a series of easy listening albums including Scrapbook and When We Were Young; another release for the the label, Exploring the Unknown, is highly prized among connoisseurs of space age pop. Sadly, Voices' run was cut short after Schumann died of a sudden heart attack following a performance in Minneapolis on August 21, 1958; he was just 45 years old. ~ Jason Ankeny
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