Composer, conductor and jazz pianist Elliot Lawrence was honored as an SCL Ambassador at the annual New York Holiday Party on December 11, 2018.
The son of broadcast pioneer Stan Lee Broza, Lawrence wrote his first composition at just 6 years of age, but was then stricken with polio. He fought the illness for six months, eventually making a full recovery. By age 12, Elliot had already formed his first big band; a 15-piece unit called The Band Busters, performing at clubs on weekends. He went on to lead big bands for the Columbia and Decca labels until 1960.
He took on the name Elliot Lawrence to distinguish himself from his family name when he became music director for WCAU’S House Band in 1945. In 1953, he joined The Ed Sullivan Show band as part of the first American broadcast from the Soviet Union. On the show were the well-known theatrical couple Marge and Gower Champion. Gower asked Elliot to be music director of his next show, Bye Bye Birdie (1960) for which Lawrence was nominated for a Tony Award®.
After 1960, Lawrence gave up jazz performance and began composing and arranging for film, television and the stage. Among his many television credits, he was music director and conductor for every Tony Awards® telecast, from its 1965 inception until 2011. Other notable credits include the shows As The World Turns, Search for Tomorrow, and Edge of Night, and the feature film Network. As a music director, Elliot Lawrence has won 9 Emmy Awards® for musical direction, and received many more nominations.
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