Ralph Burns, Broadway's Brassy, Tony Award-Winning Orchestrator, Dead at 79

News   Ralph Burns, Broadway's Brassy, Tony Award-Winning Orchestrator, Dead at 79 Ralph Burns, the Tony Award-winning orchestrataor who helped bring the brassy, tinny sound to the Broadway musical, Chicago, and the jubilant roar to Funny Girl, died Nov. 21 of complications from a stroke and pneumonia, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Ralph Burns, the Tony Award-winning orchestrataor who helped bring the brassy, tinny sound to the Broadway musical, Chicago, and the jubilant roar to Funny Girl, died Nov. 21 of complications from a stroke and pneumonia, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Mr. Burns, 79, also won two Academy Awards and an Emmy Award for his work. Over the years he was a musician, arranger and orchestrator. He was a favorite of director-choreographer Bob Fosse, orchestrating Pippin, Sweet Charity, Dancin' and music-directing and orchestrating the film, "Cabaret," among other Fosse projects. His work was heard in the revue, Fosse, for which he won the Tony Award. His Academy Awards were earned for "All That Jazz" and "Cabaret." He won the Emmy for "Baryshnikov on Broadway."

Again linked to a brassy sound, he wrote orchestrations for Richard Rodgers' first score after the death of Oscar Hammerstein II: No Strings. The on-stage orchestra literally had no strings in it.

The Newton, MA, native was a pianist who learned his craft in dance bands and jazz orchestras. The L.A. Times reported Mr. Burns attended the New England Conservatory of Music only briefly. In New York, he worked for big bands and played and wrote for Woody Herman.

His final theatre project was Thoroughly Modern Millie, which played the La Jolla Playhouse in 2000 and comes to Broadway in spring 2002. Film orchestrating credits include "Lenny," "Urban Cowboy," "Annie," "My Favorite Year," "The Muppets Take Manhattan" and "New York, New York." --Kenneth Jones