Ian Fraser

Jun 15 • In Memoriam

Ian Fraser was born and educated in England. After five years army service in the Royal Artillery band and orchestra, as solo concert pianist, harpist, and military band percussionist, he began working as a pianist in London night clubs, theater and television. During this period he became an arranger. After arranging a number of hit recordings with Anthony Newley and other artists for the English record company Decca, he came to New York in 1962 with Mr. Newley’s Stop the World, I Want to Get Off, for which he was Musical Director and Arranger of both the original London and Broadway productions. He has lived in the United States since then. In 1965, after conducting Pickwick on Broadway, he moved to Los Angeles to serve as Vocal Supervisor for Leslie Bricusse’s Doctor Dolittle, and then as John Williams’ associate on Goodbye Mr. Chips. For the musical film Scrooge, starring Albert Finney, both he and Mr. Bricusse received Academy Awards nominations. His still ongoing musical association with Julie Andrews began in 1972 as Vocal Arranger for her Emmy winning ABC-TV weekly variety series. He became her Musical Director the following year, when they recorded the first of their two Christmas Albums, followed by five television specials, which were taped in London. The first of these specials was produced by Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion, which began another still ongoing musical association with Mr. Smith. He returned with Ms. Andrews to Broadway after an absence of thirty years to conduct Victor/Victoria. Her new children’s book, Simeon’s Gift, for which he composed music to Ms. Andrew’s narration, will be in bookstores in October 2003.

In 1977 he received his first EMMY Award for the Musical Direction of America Salutes Richard Rodgers, beginning what was to become the longest run of individual EMMY nominations in the history of the Television Academy, ending in 1999, when he received his twenty-third consecutive nomination for the NBC-TV Christmas in Washington special. In 2001 he received the first of three more nominations, and was awarded his eleventh EMMY in 1993 for the 52nd. Presidential Inaugural Gala.

Miss Andrews’ The Sound of Christmas and Baryshnikov on Broadway are two of his other EMMY winning shows. He conducted the orchestra for the 1984 Oscar show, the 1984, 1993, and 2002 EMMY shows, and shared the podium with John Williams for the Liberty Weekend Opening Ceremonies in 1986. Most recently he scored the Bob Hope birthday special 100 Years of Hope and Humor, and his fifth annual AFI 100/100 special, which this year celebrated 100 years of film Heroes and Villains. He will be back in Washington DC this December, as Musical Director of Christmas in Washington, which he has conducted every year since its inception in 1982, and for which he has received three of his EMMY awards. His 2003 EMMY nomination was his sixth for this show.

In his television work, he has worked with most of the major artists of the last fifty years in all fields of music, both popular and classical, a list that ranges from Placido Domingo to Christina Aguilera. He was the last person to conduct White Christmas for Bing Crosby, on Bing’s final 1977 Christmas special. On that show he also collaborated in the writing of the duet Peace on Earth for Bing and David Bowie. Written as a counterpoint to The Little Drummer Boy, it is still played on radio stations all over the world every Christmas season, and was included in a 2002 Virgin Records Christmas album, which sold over two million copies.

His film and television scores include Torn Between Two Lovers, Hopscotch, First Monday in October, and Zorro the Gay Blade. His 1995 and 1997 Broadway albums with Miss Andrews on Philips Classics were both Grammy Nominees. In 1992 he made his debut as a guest conductor with the Boston Pops Orchestra. He is the past President of the American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers, and has just completed his seventh two-year term as a Music Governor of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

He and his wife Judith, a psychotherapist, writer and actress, live in Los Angeles. Their son Neal is the chef/owner of GRACE Restaurant, which opened earlier this year on Beverly Boulevard , and has already become one of Los Angeles top restaurants. Their daughter Tiffany is an actress, and very successful Los Angeles yoga teacher.


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