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A great and much underrated composer of jazz-inflected film scores and musical portraits. Hopkins attended Oberlin College and Temple University, studying composition and music theory. He worked in television beginning in the mid-1950s and branched out into film scoring soon after. His film credits include "Baby Doll," "12 Angry Men," "The Hustler," and "Wild River," and his television credits include "The FBI Story," the George C. Scott social worker drama "East Side/West Side," "The Reporter," "The Twentieth Century," and "The DuPont Show of the Week." He served as musical director for CBS in 1963, and, later, as director of music for Paramount television.
Hopkins was particularly adept at using jazz themes, rhythms, and orchestrations in his scores, often paralleling the down-and-out subjects and settings on screen with what Basic Hip has called, "smoky,gritty, rotten-to-the-core jazz." Carroll Baker's backwoods Lolita in "Baby Doll," Paul Newman's pool shark in "The Hustler," and Ben Gazzara's military school sadist in "The Strange One" are all characterizations that Hopkins complemented with distinctive motifs.
In the early 1960s, Hopkins arranged and conducted a tame but delightful collaboration between Verve Records and Esquire Magazine. This series of four albums of "impressions in sound of an American on tour" included a mix of stereotypical tunes associated with a country (such as "La Paloma," "Arrivaderci Roma," and "Hawaiian War Chant") and Hopkins originals, played by ace group of New York session men such as Doc Severinsen and pianist Hank Jones. Tossed in amongst the music are evocative sound effects like street traffic (Italy) and bullfight noises (Spain).
Hopkins also wrote modern classical music, including two symphonies and chamber pieces.
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