Peter Matz

Peter Matz (November 6, 1928 – August 9, 2002)[1] was an American musician, composer, arranger and conductor. His musical career in film, theater, television and studio recording spanned fifty years, and he worked with a number of prominent artists, including Marlene Dietrich, Noël Coward and Barbra Streisand. Matz won three Emmys and a Grammy Award, and is best known for his work on Streisand's early albums.[2]

Peter Matz
Birth namePeter Matz
Born(1928-11-06)November 6, 1928
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedAugust 9, 2002(2002-08-09) (aged 73)
Los Angeles
GenresPopular music
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, arranger, conductor
Years active1954–1995


Peter Matz was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on November 6, 1928, to Louis N. Matz and Alice (née Krieger) Matz.[1] He studied Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles, but after playing woodwinds in local dance bands to support himself, he soon realised that music was his real vocation.

After graduating Matz spent two years in Paris studying piano and music theory. In 1954, he returned to New York and acquired a job as a rehearsal pianist for Harold Arlen and Truman Capote's Broadway musical House of Flowers. Recognising Matz's talent, Arlen broadened his scope, and Matz arranged and conducted the music for several of the show's dance sequences.[3] Later, Arlen commissioned Matz to write the vocal, dance music and orchestration arrangements for his musical, Jamaica.[2] Impressed with Matz, Arlen began recommending him to others, including cabaret artist Marlene Dietrich.[3]

In 1955, Dietrich recommended Matz to Noël Coward when the English playwright, actor and singer was scheduled to perform in Las Vegas, but without his accompanist Norman Hackforth who had been denied a US work permit. Coward was impressed with Matz and described him as "quick, intelligent and a fine pianist".[3] Matz went on to work with Coward on his albums, television specials and his musical Sail Away. In 1962, Matz was Musical Director for Richard Rodgers's Broadway musical No Strings, for which he received a Tony nomination.[3][4]

In 1958, Matz married (Dolores) Janet Perry, with whom he had two children: Peter Zachary Matz and Jonas Christopher Matz; they were married 20 years. In 1981, Matz married Marilyn Lovell Matz, an actress and AIDS activist.[5] The couple remained together until Matz's death in 2002.[5]

In the early 1960s, Matz began working with Barbra Streisand on her first album, which won several Grammy Awards[6] and brought her stardom.[2] He continued arranging and conducting on her next four albums and won a Grammy Award himself for her 1964 album, People.[3][7] Later, Matz won an Emmy Award for her 1965 television special My Name Is Barbra, and an Oscar nomination for Best Original Score for her 1975 film Funny Lady.[7] He won two more Emmys, for an episode of the TV series, Kraft Music Hall, and for an episode of The Carol Burnett Show.[8] Matz was Musical Director for The Carol Burnett Show for eight years.[3] Matz was the orchestra leader on Hullabaloo from January 1965 to August 1966.[9]

Over the years, Matz worked with a number of prominent artists, including Burt Bacharach, Tony Bennett, Bing Crosby, Lena Horne, Peggy Lee, k.d. lang, Bette Midler, Rosemary Clooney, Liza Minnelli, Elaine Paige, Chicago, Dolly Parton, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Sarah Vaughan and Dionne Warwick. He also composed music for a number of films and television series.[3] Towards the end of his career, Matz and his wife, singer Marilynn Lovell gave a series of benefit concerts in Los Angeles for people with HIV/AIDS, for which he received a Special Los Angeles City Council Award.[1] In mid-2002 he finished his last work, the arrangements for the Symphony Pop Production My Paris for singer Tony Sandler.

Matz died of lung cancer on August 9, 2002.[2] A memorial concert in his honor was held at the University of California, Los Angeles, on November 25, 2002 and featured, amongst others, Carol Burnett and Burt Bacharach.[10]

Selected credits

Source: Film Reference [1]

Television series
Television specials
  • My Name Is Barbra (1965) – music director
  • Color Me Barbra (1966) – music director
  • Once Upon a Mattress (1972) – music director
  • Eunice (1982) – music composer
  • The Carol Burnett Show: A Reunion (1993) – conductor and arranger
  • Carol Burnett: The Special Years (1994) – conductor
  • Noel Coward at Las Vegas (1955–56) – arranger and conductor (recorded live in 1955 at the Desert Inn, Las Vegas, and in 1956 at a New York recording studio)
  • Noel Coward in New York (1956) – arranger and conductor
  • The Barbra Streisand Album (1963) – arranger and conductor
  • The Second Barbra Streisand Album (1963) – arranger and conductor
  • People (1964) – arranger and conductor
  • Liza! Liza! (1964) – arranger and conductor
  • Ruth Brown '65 (Mainstream, 1965) – arranger and conductor
  • Color Me Barbra (1966) – arranger and conductor
  • It Amazes Me (1965) – arranger and conductor
  • Tony Bennett: Tony Sings the Songs of Today! (1969) – arranger and conductor
  • The Ethel Merman Disco Album (1979) – arranger, conductor, and producer
  • The Broadway Album (1985) – arranger, conductor, and producer
  • Samuel Ramey Sings Rodgers and Hammerstein (1989) – arranger and conductor
  • Melissa Manchester:Tribute (1989) – arranger, conductor, and producer
  • Listen to My Heart (1995) – arranger and conductor


1964Grammy Award Best Accompaniment Arrangement for Vocalist(s) or Instrumentalist(s)People (Barbra Streisand album)
1965Emmy AwardOutstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment – MusiciansMy Name Is Barbra (Barbra Streisand TV special)
1970Emmy AwardOutstanding Achievement in Music Direction of a Variety, Musical or Dramatic ProgramKraft Music Hall (TV series, episode "The Sound of Burt Bacharach")
1973Emmy AwardOutstanding Achievement in Music Direction of a Variety, Musical or Dramatic ProgramThe Carol Burnett Show (TV series, episode with Anthony Newley and Bernadette Peters)


  1. "Peter Matz Biography (1928–2002)". Film Reference. Retrieved October 12, 2010.
  2. Huey, Steve. "Peter Matz". AllMusic. Retrieved October 13, 2010.
  3. Vosburgh, Dick (August 22, 2002). "Peter Matz Obituary". The Independent. Retrieved October 12, 2010.
  4. "Tony Awards". Broadway World. Retrieved October 13, 2010.
  5. "Marilyn Lovell Matz dies at 81". Variety. April 30, 2012. Retrieved May 2, 2012.
  6. "Grammy Award Winners (searchable database)". Archived from the original on November 10, 2010. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
  7. Vlasto, Dominic. "Peter Matz". The Noël Coward Society. Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved October 12, 2010.
  8. "Awards for Peter Matz". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
  9. McCleary, John Bassett (May 22, 2013). Hippie Dictionary: A Cultural Encyclopedia of the 1960s and 1970s. Ten Speed Press. p. 259. ISBN 9780307814333. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  10. Salter, Susan. "Peter Matz Biography". Musician Biographies. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
  11. "Awards for Peter Matz". AllMusic. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
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