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Hershy Kay

The American composer Hershy Kay was born in November 1919 in Philidelphia, USA. He trained at the Curtis Institute in composition, but was self-taught as an orchestrator. It is for his orchestrations, particularly for the stage, that he is known today. After several smaller projects, Kay's career took off with the orchestration of Bernstein's On The Town in 1944 (based on the ballet Fancy Free). Shortly, he found himself one of the most sought-after orchestrators on Broadway. His scores include works by Bernstein, Marc Blitzstein, Harvey Schmidt, Cy Coleman and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

His work on ballet scores, particularly in collaboration with George Balanchine is also well known. He created ballet scores for Balanchine and the New York City Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, The Royal Ballet and the Royal Danish Ballet. Two of his best-known works are Western Symphony (1954), based on traditional American folk melodies, which he wrote for Balanchine, and his reconstruction of Gottschalk's Grande Tarantelle for piano and orchestra (1961), which Balanchine choreographed as Tarantella. Other well-known works include, The Concert (1956, after Chopin), Stars and Stripes (1958, after Sousa), Who Cares? (1970, after Gershwin) and Union Jack (1976, based on British folksongs).

Kay also orchestrated works for Broadway including Bernstein's Candide (1956) and wrote many film scores and original compositions. He died in December 1981 in Danbury, Connecticut.

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