Morton Gould was born in Richmond Hill, New York, United States. He was recognized early as a child prodigy with abilities in improvisation and composition. His first composition was published at age six. Gould studied at the Institute of Musical Art in New York. His most important teachers were Abby Whiteside and Vincent Jones.
During the Depression, Gould, while a teenager, worked in New York City playing piano in movie theaters, as well as with vaudeville acts. When Radio City Music Hall opened, Gould was hired as the staff pianist. By 1935, he was conducting and arranging orchestral programs for New York's WOR radio station, where he reached a national audience via the Mutual Broadcasting System, combining popular programming with classical music.
In the 1940s, Gould appeared on the Cresta Blanca Carnival program as well as The Chrysler Hour on CBS where he reached an audience of millions. In 1942, he composed music for the short film Ring of Steel, directed by Garson Kanin and produced by the Film Unit of the U.S. Office for Emergency Management.
Gould had four children. On 16 February 1945, Gould's son Eric was born. Gould's son David was born on 2 March 1947. Gould's first daughter, Abby, was born on 3 February 1950, and, on 21 December 1954, his daughter Deborah was born.
Gould composed Broadway scores such as Billion Dollar Baby and Arms and the Girl; film music such as Delightfully Dangerous, Cinerama Holiday, and Windjammer; music for television series such as World War One and the miniseries Holocaust; and ballet scores including Interplay, Fall River Legend, and I'm Old Fashioned.
Gould's music, commissioned by symphony orchestras all over the United States, was also commissioned by the Library of Congress, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the American Ballet Theatre, and the New York City Ballet. His ability to seamlessly combine multiple musical genres into formal classical structure, while maintaining their distinctive elements, was unsurpassed, and Gould received three commissions for the United States Bicentennial.
As a conductor, Gould led all of the major American orchestras as well as those of Canada, Mexico, Europe, Japan, and Australia. With his orchestra, he recorded music of many classical standards, including Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" on which he also played the piano. He won a Grammy Award in 1966 for his recording of Charles Ives' first symphony, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In 1983, Gould received the American Symphony Orchestra League's Gold Baton Award. In 1986 he was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.
An active member of ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) for many decades, Gould served as president from 1986 until 1994. During his tenure, he lobbied for the intellectual rights of performing artists as the internet was becoming a force that would greatly impact ASCAP's members.
Incorporating new styles into his repertoire as they emerged, Gould incorporated wildly disparate elements, including a rapping narrator titled "The Jogger and the Dinosaur," American tap dancing in his "Tap Dance Concerto" for dancer and orchestra, and a singing fire department titled "Hosedown" commissioned works for the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony. In 1993, his work "Ghost Waltzes" was commissioned for the ninth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. In the same year, he received the El Premio Billboard for his contributions to Latin music in the United States. In 1994, Gould received the Kennedy Center Honor in recognition of lifetime contributions to American culture.
In 1995, Gould was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music for Stringmusic, a composition commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra in recognition of the final season of director Mstislav Rostropovich. In 2005, he was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He also was a member of the board of the American Symphony Orchestra League and of the National Endowment for the Arts music panel. Gould's original manuscripts, personal papers and other pertinent pieces are archived in the Library of Congress and available to the public.
Gould died on February 21, 1996 in Orlando, Florida, where he was the first resident guest composer/conductor at the Disney Institute. He was 82 years old.
Work on Broadway
Work in film and television
- Casey, Crime Photographer (1951–1952), composer and music
- Cinerama Holiday (1954), composer, additional music by Jack Shaindlin and Nathan Van Cleave
- Windjammer (1957), composer, orchestra conducted by Jack Shaindlin
- World War One (CBS - 1964), composer, CBS Symphony Orchestra conducted by Alfredo Antonini.
- Wagon Wheels (1954)
- Symphonic Serenade (1954)
- The Serious Gershwin (1955)
- Jungle Drums (1956)
- Brass and Percussion (1957)
- Blues in the Night (1957)
- Copland: Billy the Kid; Grofe: Grand Canyon Suite (1957)
- Kern/Porter Favorites (1958)
- Moon, Wind and Stars (1958)
- Doubling in Brass (1959)
- Moonlight Sonata (1960)
- Carmen for Orchestra (1960)
- Beyond the Blue Horizon (1961)
- Love Walked In (1962)
- Good Night Sweetheart (1963)
- More Jungle Drums (1964)
- Latin, Lush and Lovely (1964)
- Morton Gould Showcase and his Orchestra (1947)
- Morton Gould Twin Pack (1969)
- A Musical Christmas Tree (1969)
- Colin Larkin, ed. (2002). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Fifties Music (Third ed.). Virgin Books. pp. 175/6. ISBN 1-85227-937-0.
- Goodman, Peter W. (2000). Morton Gould: American Salute. Portland, OR: Amadeus Press. p. 153. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
- Library of Congress, Music Division (February 2011). "Morton Gould Papers: Guides to Special Collections in the Music Division of the Library of Congress". Washington, DC: Library of Congress. p. 4. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
- Renard, Enrique (2016). "Morton Gould, An American Genius". Robert Farnon Society. Robert Farnon Society. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
- Library of Congress, Music Division (February 2011). "Morton Gould Papers: Guides to Special Collections in the Music Division of the Library of Congress". Washington, DC: Library of Congress. p. 5. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
- Morton Gould Biography, G. Schirmer, Inc.
- Waleson, Heidi (March 2, 1996). "Composer/Conductor Morton Gould Dies". Billboard. Retrieved 2015-05-08.
- Lannert, John (June 5, 1993). "Changes In Wind At Confab". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. 105 (23): 11; 44. ISSN 0006-2510.
Billboard also honored Gould with its first "El Premio Billboard" award for his contribution to the growth of Latin music in the U.S.
- "Morton Gould Collection". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2015-05-08.
- Holland, Bernard (February 22, 1996). "Morton Gould, Composer And Conductor, Dies at 82". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-05-08.
- "Casey, Crime Photographer". www.darrenmcgavin.net. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
- Goodman, Peter W. (2003). "Morton Gould: American Salute,". Amadeus Press. p. 138. ISBN 978-1-57467-055-4.
Gould premiered "American Salute" on radio on "Cresta Blanca Carnival," on NBC, November 11, 1942
- "March of The Leathernecks" .allmusic.com, accessed February 10, 2016
- "Morton Gould Conducting The Rochester "Pops" Orchestra". Discogs. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
- "Morton Gould And His Orchestra - Jungle Drums". Discogs. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
- "Morton Gould - Brass & Percussion". Discogs. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
- "Morton Gould - Doubling In Brass". Discogs. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
- "Morton Gould And His Orchestra - Beyond The Blue Horizon". Discogs. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
- "Morton Gould And His Orchestra - More Jungle Drums". Discogs. Retrieved 17 April 2018.