Born in Portland, Oregon in 1905 to loving but entirely non-musical parents, Louis Kaufman was spirited away to study in New York immediately following his Bar Mitzvah. He began working in Hollywood in 1934.
He was the concertmaster on so many soundtracks of so many classic Hollywood films that it is safe to say that he has been heard by what ever number best describes approximately all the people now living on earth.
His first Hollywood gig was The Merry Widow (1934). Lubitsch had heard him playing on the radio, and requested that the studio track him down. What happened next? In his words “For about fourteen years, I recorded film scores for Max Steiner, Alfred Newman, Franz Waxman, Bernard Herrmann, Erich Wolfgand Korngold Victor Young, Roy Webb, Hugo Friedhofer and others.” Hundreds of film scores.
He balanced his Hollywood career with a career as a soloist, giving yearly recitals in both New York and LA. He championed the work of undervalued composers, and collected paintings, notably the paintings of Milton Avery.
Here’s Avery’s portrait of Kaufman:
Unbelievably prolific and universally beloved by his colleagues, Louis Kaufman died in 1994. Yes, the above photo is by Man Ray. Man Ray!