Ian Fraser, Famed Composer for TV and Film, Dies at 81

Ian Fraser Obit - H 2014
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Ian Fraser Obit - H 2014

He won 11 Emmys from 32 nominations and collaborated often with Julie Andrews

Ian Fraser, whose 11 Emmy Awards and 32 nominations for outstanding music direction made him the most honored composer/conductor in the history of television, has died. He was 81.

The British native, who was known for his long association with singer-actress Julie Andrews, died of cancer Friday at his Los Angeles home, his daughter, Tiffany, told the Los Angeles Times.

Survivors also include his wife, actress Judee Morton, and their son, Neal, a top chef who with his wife, Amy, has been behind such well-regarded L.A.-area restaurants as Grace, BLD and Vibiana.

Fraser first worked with Andrews in 1972 as vocal arranger for her Emmy-winning weekly ABC variety hour. He became her musical director the following year when they recorded the first of their two Christmas albums. His 1995 and 1997 Broadway albums with Andrews were Grammy Award nominees.

Fraser returned to Broadway with Andrews in 1995 to conduct Victor/Victoria for the stage, and he composed and performed music to her narration for the accompanying CD of her 2003 children's book, Simeon's Gift.

In 2006, he and lyricist John Bucchino composed the songs for the children's musical version of Simeon's Gift.

Fraser received an Academy Award nomination for the musical film Scrooge (1970), starring Albert Finney, and worked on such films as Hopscotch (1980), First Monday in October (1981) and Zorro: The Gay Blade (1981).

Fraser conducted the orchestra for the 1984 Oscar telecast and served as musical director for the 1984, 1993 and 2002 Emmy Awards.

"Ian will be remembered by all who had the great fortune to know and work with him as a man of great taste and talent, intelligence and warmth and a wonderful sense of humor and fun," Television Academy chairman and CEO Bruce Rosenblum said in a statement.

Fraser was in the midst of his 10th term as the Music Peer Group governor at the TV Academy.

In 1977, Fraser received his first career Emmy for his musical direction of America Salutes Richard Rodgers: The Sound of His Music. Other than 1979 and 2000, he received at least one Emmy nom in every year through 2005.

He was nominated one last time in 2013 for the special Christmas in Washington.

Fraser also contributed to the iconic "The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth" duet between Bing Crosby and David Bowie in 1977 on Crosby's last Christmas TV special.

Fraser came to New York in 1962 with Anthony Newley's Stop the World, I Want to Get Off for which he was musical director and arranger of the original London and Broadway productions.

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