Peter Matz


SCL Grieves Loss of Advisory Board Member Peter Matz

The Society of Composers & Lyricists (SCL) grieves the loss of SCL Advisory Board Member Peter Matz who passed away Friday, August 9th in Los Angeles from lung cancer. He had been ill for the past few months. At this moment no memorial is planned. Peter Matz is survived by his wife, Marilynn, and his two sons, Zachary and Jonas, along with many friends and colleagues.

Peter Matz distinguished himself as one of the foremost musical director/arranger/composers in every medium of entertainment. He was honored with three Emmy Awards, a Grammy Award, two Tony Awards nominations, a Clio Award, and an Academy Award nomination. His original scores for countless feature films and television movies also earned him additional awards, nominations and critical acclaim. As a musical director, he arranged and conducted for such legendary superstars as Noel Coward, Marlene Dietrich, Barbra Streisand, Bernadette Peters, Peggy Lee, Lena Horne, Bing Crosby, Liza Minnelli, Diahann Carroll, Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan, Dionne Warwick, Sam Ramey, and Melissa Manchester.

Following graduation from UCLA and two years of intensive musical studies in France, Matz began his career on Broadway creating orchestrations, vocal arrangements and dance music for Harold Arlen’s House of Flowers, starring Diahann Carroll, and Jamaica, starring Lena Horne. After serving as arranger/accompanist for Noel Coward’s celebrated engagement in Las Vegas, he returned to Broadway to arrange and conduct Coward’s Sail Away and Richard Rodgers’ No Strings and to provide orchestrations for Jule Styne’s Hallelujah, Baby! Working simultaneously in television, Matz composed the themes and served as musical director for such popular hits as The Jimmy Dean Show, The Kraft Music Hall, and Hullabaloo. Diversifying into feature films, he also composed original scores for Sidney Lumet’s Bye Bye Braverman, and Marlowe, starring James Garner. During this period, he met Barbra Streisand and ultimately arranged and conducted most of the material on her first five albums for Columbia (including his own composition “Gotta Move”), as well as two Emmy Award-winning television specials, My Name Is Barbra and Color Me Barbra. Theirs proved to be a long and prolific working relationship which would later include his Oscar-nominated work on Funny Lady and the 1986 platinum hit, The Broadway Album, on which he served as co-producer as well as arranger/conductor.

In addition to his concert work and arranging/producing albums for most of the great singers of our time, Matz composed scores for the feature motion pictures, Torch Song Trilogy and The Gum Shoe Kid. In the 1989-1990 season, he returned to his roots on Broadway to orchestrate the hit musical, Grand Hotel, directed by Tommy Tune.

Peter frequently taught seminars and served on the faculty of the USC School of Music. He and his wife, singer Marilynn Lovell, also wrote and performed a series of benefit concerts around the country which raised several hundred thousand dollars to provide home health care for people with AIDS.

Society of Composers & Lyricists Past President James Di Pasquale writes:

“I met Peter Matz in 1962 when, at age 20, I was playing in a Chicago orchestra backing Judy Garland in concert. Peter was subbing for Judy’s conductor, Mort Lindsey, and having never worked with her before, he was pretty nervous. In talking during a rehearsal break, he and I discovered that he’d been a student of the Chicago Symphony clarinetist I was then studying with. That fact led to a real friendship between us when I moved to L.A. several years later and began scoring television. Peter was always very encouraging, often inviting me to the tapings of the Carol Burnett Show where I learned a lot watching him work.

In 1983, when we began the movement to establish the SCL, Peter was one of the principal volunteers I constantly called on for help. Though he was very busy, he always found time to come over to the Writers Guild to make phone calls, attend strategy meetings, or do whatever we asked of him. Regardless of his personal success, his total commitment to the group shows the kind of rare human being he was.

I think every SCL member owes Peter a debt of gratitude. I know I certainly do.”

– James DiPasquale