Alan Menken

From Wind Repertory Project
Alan Menken


Alan Irwin Menken (b. 22 July 1949, New York) is an American musical theatre and film composer and pianist.

Menken was born the son of dentist Norman Menken and his wife Judith. He developed an interest in music at an early age, studying piano and violin. He went to New Rochelle High School in New Rochelle, New York. He attended college as a pre-med student, but later changed his focus to music at New York University's Steinhardt School. After college, he attended the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop. He performed frequently in local clubs and worked as a composer of jingles and songs and as an accompanist.

Menken's first major professional work was with Ashman for the Off-Broadway 1979 WPA Theatre production of the play God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, an adaptation of a Kurt Vonnegut novel. This was well received, but three years later, he achieved greater success with the 1982 Off-Broadway musical Little Shop of Horrors, again with Ashman, for which he earned a Drama Desk Award nomination.

Menken is best known for his work over the past two decades with Walt Disney Pictures scoring numerous films, including Disney animated classics The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Home on the Range, and most recently, Disney's 2010 animated film Tangled. He also wrote music for the Disney live-action films Newsies (1992) and Enchanted (2007). Menken has received dual Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song on four of these projects. With eight Academy Award wins (four each for Best Original Score and Best Original Song), only composer Alfred Newman (nine wins) and Walt Disney (twenty-two wins) have received more Oscars than Menken. He currently holds the record for the most wins for a living person. He was named a Disney Legend in 2001.

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