Ralph Ferraro (Ralph Albert Ferraro)
BiographyWaterbury, Connecticut, USA
Ralph Ferraro was one of the most versatile and accomplished musicians to work in the entertainment industry. As composer, arranger, conductor and performer, Ferraro amassed an impressive list of accomplishments over a career which spanned seven decades. Within the knowledgable community of fellow musicians, Ralph Ferraro was respected and appreciated for his abilities and professionalism, but public recognition was fleeting, as Ralph Ferraro remained unsung for much of his career. Ralph Albert Ferraro was born on July 3, 1929 in Waterbury, Connecticut. Read more... a number of popular swing bands, among these that of Sam Donohue. Following a stint in the U. S. Navy, Ferraro married his boyhood sweetheart, Manuelita (Mani), and they relocated to Rome, when a job opportunity was offered to him there. Over the next eight years, Ralph Ferraro would work in every facet of the musical entertainment field, including films, television, commercial and public productions. As a session percussionist, he performed on many classic film soundtracks recorded in Italy - La Dolce Vita, 81/2, Sodom And Gomorrah, Battle Of Algiers among these. He also performed on the American television series, Combat!, which was recorded there, as well. His meeting and working with that series' composer, Leonard Rosenman would lead to a lengthy collaboration in future years. During this eventful period in Italian cinema, Ferraro progressed from performing to arranging music for numerous Italian composers, among these -Armando Trovajoli, Carlo Rustichelli, Angelo Lavagnino, and Piero Piccioni. Piccioni made almost exclusive use of Ferraro as an arranger for his many film scores of this era. Ralph Ferraro's distinctive orchestral style and colorations can be enjoyed in the Piccioni scores for Il Momento Della Verita, Minnestoa Clay, I Tre Volti and C'Era Una Volta... among others. Ferraro also had the opportunity to compose original music for a number of Italian film and television productions - Lo Scandolo, Il Errore, La Sorella Di Satana (She -Beast), and Treasure Of The Petrified Forest. During this exciting time, the Ferraros were blessed with the birth of two lovely daughters, Francesca and Claudia, and formed life-long friendships with many musical colleagues in Rome -Armando Trovajoli, Piero Piccioni, Allessandro Allessandroni, Ennio Morricone, etc. In 1967, the Ferraros returned to the States, and Ralph became enmeshed in work for the American cinema. Signing on at Universal , he composed numerous episode scores for such television series as The Virginian, Chrysler Theatre, It Takes A Thief, Name Of The Game, and The Men From Shiloh . He also scored his first American film, The King's Pirate, and collaborated with Billy Goldenberg on the adaptation score of Luis Bonfa for River Of Mystery. It was at this time that Ferraro reconnected with Leonard Rosenman, becoming his almost exclusive orchestrator until the composer's withdrawal from film work due to health issues in the mid-1990's. Among the noteworthy collaborations of Ferraro with Rosenman - The Hellfighters, Marcus Welby, M. D., A Man Called Horse, Lord Of The Rings, Cross Creek, Star Trk IV: The Voyage Home Robo-Cop II, and Rosenman's two Oscar-winning adaptation scores, Barry Lyndon and Bound For Glory. Ralph Ferraro also found work orchestrating for other well-known composers as well, Henry Mancini, Johnny Mandel, Bernardo Segall, and John Williams. He worked extensively with composer/arranger Don Costa, and formed a lifelong friendship with Costa and other luminaries, Nick Perito, Gene DePaul and Harry Warren. Their weekly dinner get-togethers were the stuff of legend as these music-masters gathered to discuss and celebrate their love of music. In 1973, Ralph Ferraro was afforded the opportunity to score an independent film which, through name recognition, would probably be the film for which he is best known, Flesh Gordon. This low-budget, soft-core porno spoof of the classic Sci-Fi serial of the 1930's, none-the-less, boasted some of the most stunning and eye-catching visual effects ever seen on film. Created by some of the most talented young effects artists in the business, some years before their individual stars would shine, Flesh Gordon was lifted to a level which the film's producers had not anticipated. The talents of Dennis Muren, Rick Baker, Doug Beswick, Jim Danforth, Greg Jein, Dave Allen , Tom Scherman and others brought the film world-wide attention which it would not have otherwise known. Ralph Ferraro's music, however, is the crowning element which takes the film to its achieved pinnacle. Composed and fully orchestrated in only three days, and recorded with a smaller-than-average orchestra, in a four-hour recording session, Ferraro's score adds the production value needed to make this cinematic effort, a genuine entertainment.His tongue-in-cheek, playful renderings, with an over-the-top melodramatic style that harkens back to the era of silent cliff-hangers,make Flesh Gordon a joy to hear as well as to see. Ralph Ferrao's typically modest response to praise for his effort -" I just did what the film seemed to call for!" Busy with his orchestrating work, Ralph still found time to score three television pilots for Carroll O'Connor's production company in 1980 - Our Place, Riding For The Pony Express, and Bender's Force. None were picked-up by the networks, but they offerred Ferraro the chance to further his range of musical explorations. In 1982, he was commissioned by the Disney Company to create an original musical work which would incorporate the melodies of the song-writing brother-team of Richard and Robert Sherman. this music, to be played throughout Disney's new Epcot Center was entitled, Imagination and is one of the best examples of Ralph Ferraro's musical knowledge and acumen at using an orchestra to its fullest effect. Imagination is a magical musical fantasy which brilliantly displays the Sherman's lyricism as well as giving every instrument in the orchestral pantry, an opportunity to shine in its own right. Later in the decade of the 1980's Ralph Ferraro was commissioned by Jack Elliott, who had formed The New American Orchestra, to compose an original musical piece as a signature anthem for that orchestra. Ferraro's work, La Corrida, had its debut in 1987, with Jack Elliott conducting it in its premiere performance. In the mid-1980's, Ralph Ferraro formed a new collaboration with new rising-star composer, Randy Edelman, starting with MacGuyver and continuing through such titles as Dragonheart,XXX, Beethoven, Miss Congeniality, and Gettysburg, Ralph was kept busy with creating new and colorful sounds for Randel Edelman, until his retirement in 2009. Ralph enjoyed a brief retirement - brief on the grander scale - before passing on to join his Old Friends, Don Costa, Harry Warren, Nick Perito, etc. who had proceeded him, on April 3, 2012. His passing adds another exclamation point (!) to the end of a marvelous and magical music-making time, the like of which will never be seen again.