Kenyon Hopkins

Kenyon Hopkins (January 15, 1912 April 7, 1983) was an American composer who composed many film scores in a jazz idiom. He was once called "one of jazz's great composers and arrangers."[1][2]

Kenyon Hopkins
Birth nameH. Kenyon Hopkins
Born(1912-01-15)January 15, 1912
Coffeyville, Kansas, U.S.
DiedApril 7, 1983(1983-04-07) (aged 71)
Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.
Occupation(s)Composer, arranger


Early life and education

Hopkins was born in Coffeyville, Kansas, to the marriage of Rev. Thomas John Hopkins (1871–1939) and Gertrude Conover Nevius (maiden; 1883–aft. July 6, 1967). He, with his parents and brother, Thomas Oliver Hopkins (1915–1973), lived in several towns were his father had been a clergyman who had served as pastor at (i) the First Baptist Church in Coffeyville from 1909 to 1918, (ii) the First Baptist Church in Adrian, Michigan, from 1918 to 1923, (iii) the Tenth Avenue Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio, from 1923 to 1928, (iv) the Central Baptist Church in Wayne, Pennsylvania, from 1928 to 1936, and (v) the Prospect Hill Baptist Church in Prospect Park, Pennsylvania, from 1936 until his death in 1939.[3]

Hopkins attended Indianola Junior High School in Columbus, then in June 1929, graduated from North High School.[4] In the fall of 1929, he enrolled at Oberlin College where he studied theory and composition. Hopkins transferred to Temple University, where, in 1933, he earned a degree in music.

Postgraduate influences

In the mid to late 1940s, after World War II, Hopkins studied theories and the concepts of serial music – including so-called serious music – with Stefan Wolpe.[5]


In the 1930s, Hopkins arranged in New York for Andre Kostelanetz and Paul Whiteman, and for radio and theater.[6]

Hopkins composed various orchestral works, including two symphonies, the Symphony in Two Movements and Town and County Dances for chamber orchestra, and the jazz ballet Rooms for Anna Sokolow.[7][8]

He recorded several albums for ABC Paramount Records, Cadence, Capitol, and Verve during the 1960s. Many of his soundtrack recordings were released on LP, including that for the 1956 film Baby Doll,[9] which was re-released on CD.[10]

Personal life and death

Hopkins married at least three times. He first married, in 1936, vocalist Ramona (née Estrild Raymona Myers, 1909 1972). They divorced around June 1943, reportedly in Mexico. On December 13, 1947, he then married a magazine writer and publicist whose first name was Florence.[11] They divorced in 1951 in Dade County, Florida.[12] On February 17, 1952, he married Geri Beitzel (née Geraldine Virginia Beitzel; 1924 1995) in Washington Township, Bergen County, New Jersey.[13] She was a soprano and a 1945 graduate of Juilliard.[14]

Hopkins died in Princeton, New Jersey, at the age of 71. He, with his wife Geraldine, had been living on their farm – the Backbone Hill Farm in Clarksburg, New Jersey (near Allentown), for 27 years.[15]


  • Contrasting Colors, Capitol, 1959
  • The Sound of New York, ABC Paramount, [ABC 2269 (mono) / ABCS 2269 (stereo)], recorded November 17, 21, and 27, 1958, in New York; released 1959;[16] conducted by Hopkins (the album included the Geri Beitzel Singers)
  • Ridin' The Rails, Capitol Records, [T-1302 (mono) / ST-1302 (stereo)], 1960[17]
  • Nightmare!!, MGM Records [E/SE 4104 (mono) / SE 4104 (stereo)], 1962[18]
  • The Yellow Canary (Music From The Motion Picture), Kenyon Hopkins and His Orchestra, Verve [V6-8548], recorded April 15 and 16, 1963, in New York; released 1963[19]
  • The Reporter: The Original Music From the CBS Television Network Series, (Columbia CL 2269 mono), 1964[20]
  • Sound Tour: France, Verve (in conjunction with Esquire Magazine) (produced by Creed Taylor), 1962[21]


Film scores



  1. "Kenyon Hopkins Profile". Doug Payne. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  2. "Hopkins, Kenyon," The Encyclopedia of Film Composers, by Thomas S. Hischak, Rowman & Littlefield (2015); p. 338
  3. "Dr. Hopkins Dies After Collapse," Philadelphia Inquirer, December 28, 1939, p. 6 (accessible via, subscription required)
  4. "Kenyon Hopkins," Polaris Annual (North High School yearbook) (1929), p. 39 (accessible via
  5. "Stefan Wolpe in Conversation with Eric Salzman," by Austin E. Clarkson, The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 83, No. 3, Autumn 1999, pps. 378–412; OCLC 6733273270 (accessible via JSTOR at
  6. "Hopkins, Kenyon," Grove Music Online (URL link) (retrieved September 24, 2019)
  7. "Composite Bodies of Dance: The Repertory of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater," by Thomas F. DeFrantz, Theatre Journal, Vol. 57, No. 4, Black Performance, December 2005, pps. 659-678; OCLC 359402526 (accessible via JSTOR at
  8. Eder, Bruce. "Kenyon Hopkins Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  9. "Civil Rights and The Black Presence in Baby Doll," by Philip C. Kolin, Literature/Film Quarterly, Vol. 24, No. 1; OCLC 194336575 (1996), pps. 2–11 (accessible via JSTOR at
  10. "Kenyon Hopkins". Space Age Musicmaker. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  11. "'Touch of Genius Boy' Touched for $75 a Week," by Leeds Moberley (né Ben Leeds Moberley; 1905–1970), New York Daily News, January 25, 1950, p. C4 (accessible via, subscription required)
  12. "Florida Divorce Index, 1927–2001," (FamilySearch database)
    citing "Florence Hopkins" and "H. Kenyon Hopkins," Dade County, Florida, 1951, certificate no. 11574, vol. 555
    (online access requires regisistration, but is free)
  13. "Nuptials: Hopkins—Beitzel" (marriage announcement), Public Opinion, February 23, 1952, p. 2 col. 2 (of 8) (accessible via, subscription required)
  14. "Young Soprano to Give Recital – Geraldine Beitzel Prepares Interesting Program for Penn Hall Thursday," Public Opinion, June 17, 1947, p. 2, col. 6 (of 8) (accessible via, subscription required)
  15. Leszczak, Bob (2014). The Odd Couple on Stage and Screen: A History with Cast and Crew Profiles and an Episode Guide. McFarland & Company. p. 152. ISBN 978-0786477906.
  16. "Kenyon Hopkins/Creed Taylor: The Sound of New York". Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  17. "Kenyon Hopkins: Ridin' The Rails". Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  18. "Kenyon Hopkins: Nightmare!!". Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  19. Discogs: Kenyon Hopkins – The Yellow Canary (music from the motion picture), Verve V6–8548 (1963)
  20. "Kenyon Hopkins: The Reporter". Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  21. "Kenyon Hopkins: Sound Tour: France". Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  22. The Reporter Kenyon Hopkins LP, retrieved 2015-06-23
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