Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Disney Legend: George Bruns

As the Disney Legend's website says, the Disney Legend award was created "to acknowledge and honor the many individuals whose imagination, talents and dreams have created the Disney magic" There have been 216 Disney Legends awarded since the inception of this award in 1987. Many of the names on this list are known to most Disney enthusiasts, but for every well known legend there are 10 that you might have never heard of. These are their stories.

This week let's talk about Disney Legend George Bruns (1914-1983).
George Bruns worked for the Disney Company from 1953-1978. He was a musician, conductor, song writer and musical director. George first came in
contact with the Disney company due in part to Ward Kimball. Ward had recommended George when they needed a jazz tuba player for a cartoon being made at another company(UPA). The two men were friends due to their Jazz band connections. When Walt and the conductor Walter Schumann had a falling out in Sleeping Beauty, Ward Kimball again suggested Geroge Bruns to take the job. His first assignment was the Blue Bird Scene with Bill Peet and Mary Costa. He did so well with that assignment he was then asked to score the entire movie.
George was born in Sandy, Oregon. He was a child prodigy in that he had mastered the piano, tuba and trombone by high school. He tutored under Dent Morey who was very well known in the Portland area. He went to Oregon State U. The OSU Alumni Assoc. web page says "...however, in looking back on what we know of his student years, Bruns spent most of his time, both on and off campus, playing music, either tuba in the ROTC band or string bass in the popular Jim Derickx Orchestra." After school George toured with a couple of bands in the Northwest with a band-mate in one of them with the medical sounding name of Doc Severeson of Johnny Carson fame. After George's start with the Disney Company he worked on many different projects. He did the music for most of the first season of the Disneyland show. He also composed the music for The Balad of Davey Crockett. He put that song together with a writer from the Disneyland show in about 30 minutes. It sold eight million copies. He also composed the theme for the Zorro tv show and music for the Mickey Mouse Club. He worked on a number of animated movies and had Oscar nominations coming for Robin Hood, The Sword in the Stone, Babes in Toyland, and Sleeping Beauty. He won a Golden Laurel Award for Babes in Toyland. George even guested with the Firehouse 5 plus 2 band that Ward Kimball and other Disney employees had put together in the 1940's. Some of George's other accomplishments were composing the music for the Jungle Book and co-writing the Yo Ho Pirate song with Xavier Atencio. He also was responsible for the music in the Herbie movies. He considered the work on adapting Tchaikovsky's ballet score for 'Sleeping Beauty' and the song 'Love' from Robin Hood as his some of his best and most challenging work with Disney. lists that George worked on over 75 Disney projects. George retired from the Disney Company in 1978. He was inducted as a Disney Legend in 2001.
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