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Max Steiner: Man and Myth
A Symposium

February 24-25, 2018

The Anatol Center at California State University, Long Beach

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About the Symposium

Max Steiner in 1942.
Max Steiner in 1942.

Max Steiner, the film composer for King Kong, Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, and The Searchers, has long been hailed "Dean of Film Music." But Steiner’s familiar presence in iconic films overshadows the vast majority of his work and legacy, which remain more acknowledged than studied. Only recently, for instance, has research on early sound cinema corrected long-held beliefs on the relationship of Steiner’s music in King Kong to early Hollywood scores. Similar work remains to be done, whether considering Steiner’s upbringing in Vienna, his peripatetic career in musical theater, his fluctuating arrangements with Hollywood studios, his relationships with individual filmmakers and musicians, and his shifting approach to composition across genres and over time.

This symposium brings together scholars to reconsider and expand our understanding of Steiner's work, its historical context, and its broader relationship to musicological film studies.

Symposium Organizing Committee

  • Aaron Fruchtman (California State University, Long Beach)—Chair
  • Nathan Platte (University of Iowa)
  • William H. Rosar (University of California, San Diego)
  • Roger Hickman (California State University, Long Beach)

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Saturday, February 24

9:00am-10:30am: Max Steiner in Pictures and Documents (Roundtable)

  • Steven C. Smith (author)—Chair
  • Diana Friedberg (filmmaker)
  • Nathan Platte (The University of Iowa)
  • Peter Wegele (pianist, composer, arranger, author)


  • Roger Hickman (California State University, Long Beach)—Chair
  • William H. Rosar (University of California, San Diego)—"Theme Songs without Words"
  • Jordan Stokes (Hunter College and The Juilliard School)—"Max Steiner and Extended Tonality"
  • Charles Leinberger (The University of Texas at El Paso)—"An Austrian in Hollywood: Leitmotifs, Key Relationships, and Self-Plagiarism in Max Steiner’s Music for Now, Voyager and Mildred Pierce"


Lunch Break


  • William H. Rosar (University of California, San Diego)—Chair
  • Aaron Fruchtman (California State University, Long Beach)—"Max Steiner's Jewish Identity and Score to Symphony of Six Million"
  • Jonathan Friedmann (Academy for Jewish Religion California)—"Was Max Steiner a Jew?"
  • Stephen Butler (composer)—"Max Steiner: Music, Magic, and Humour"


  • James D’Arc (Brigham Young University) with Roger Hickman (California State University, Long Beach)—"Steiner Noir: The Juxtaposition of Light and Darkness"

Sunday, February 25


  • William H. Rosar (University of California, San Diego)—Chair
  • Jeff Lyon (Brigham Young University) and Brent Yorgason (Brigham Young University)—"Cataloging Max Steiner: A Corpus Study of Film Scores"
  • Michael Lee (University of Oklahoma)—"Deflating Fascism: Steiner's Score for The Most Dangerous Game"
  • Peter Wegele (pianist, composer, arranger, author)—"Max Steiner: Composing, Casablanca, and the Golden Age of Film Music"


  • Aaron Fruchtman (California State University, Long Beach)—Chair
  • Nathan Platte (The University of Iowa)—"Max Steiner and the Invention of the Studio Film Composer"
  • Brent Yorgason (Brigham Young University) and Jeff Lyon (Brigham Young University)—"Fanning out from the Fanfare: Max Steiner's Theme for Warner Brothers"


Lunch Break

1:30pm-3:00pm: Strains from Gone with the Wind (Roundtable)

  • Nathan Platte (The University of Iowa)—Chair
  • Myrl Schreibman (University of California, Los Angeles, professor emeritus)
  • Leslie Andersen (California State University, Long Beach)
  • Janet Bradford (Brigham Young University)


Closing Remarks

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Location, Parking, & Maps

Conference Location:

  • The all-day conference will be held at the Karl Anatol Conference Center.
  • The Karl Anatol Conference Center is located on the bottom floor of the Academic Services (AS) building, which is positioned between the Macintosh Humanities Building (MHB) and the campus library (LIB). The Anatol Center is on the south end of campus, just off of Seventh Street.
  • Map of south campus.


  • Attendees, panelists, and visiting professors will need to purchase a general parking permit.
  • Daily permits for spring 2018 are $8
  • All CSULB parking rules apply.
  • The conference cannot reimburse you for the cost of parking and/or travel.
  • We advise parking in Lot E8.

Maps & Links:

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Music History Faculty

All Faculty/Staff
  • Bob Cole Conservatory of Music
  • California State University, Long Beach
  • 1250 N. Bellflower Blvd.
  • Long Beach, CA 90840-7101
  • 562-985-4781 phone
  • 562-985-2490 fax

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