Peter Matz's Biography
by Steve Huey [allmusic.com]
An award-winning conductor, arranger, and composer for film, theater, and television, Peter Matz is perhaps best known for his work on Barbra Streisand's early albums and as musical director on The Carol Burnett Show. Born in Pittsburgh, he studied chemical engineering at UCLA and played assorted woodwinds in local dance bands during his spare time; following graduation, he traveled to Paris for two years to soak up the city's music scene, and in 1954 went to New York to study piano and music theory. His first job was as rehearsal pianist for Harold Arlen's musical House of Flowers; that engagement led to a position as arranger/orchestrator on Arlen's next project, Jamaica, which starred Lena Horne. Through Arlen, he met Marlene Dietrich, and through Dietrich, he met Noel Coward, who hired him to arrange and accompany his well-received 1955 run in Las Vegas. Matz later worked with Coward on his 1961 Broadway show Sail Away, and in addition to several other stage musicals, he began to branch out into television (where he served as musical director on programs like The Jimmy Dean Show and Hullabaloo) and film (as a composer of original scores). After meeting Barbra Streisand, Matz arranged and conducted her 1963 debut, The Barbra Streisand Album, which made her a star; he also worked on her next four records, including the Grammy-winning People and My Name Is Barbra, the latter of which won him an Emmy for the accompanying TV special. Matz went on to win two more Emmys -- one for 1970's The Sounds of Burt Bacharach, and another in 1973 for his work on The Carol Burnett Show, where he served as musical director from 1971-1979. In 1975, Matz was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score for his work on Barbra Streisand's Funny Lady. He continued to work in film and television, and returned to Broadway in 1989 to orchestrate Grand Hotel, later producing the cast album. In later years, he and his wife, singer Marilyn Lovell, frequently staged benefit concerts for AIDS victims. Lung cancer claimed Matz's life on August 9, 2002.