Harvey R. Cohen, two-time Emmy-winning composer, arranger and big-band leader, died Sunday after suffering a heart attack at his home in Agoura Hills, Calif. He was 55.
Cohen’s two Emmys were for music for animated series: “Disney’s Aladdin” in 1995 and “The Adventures of Batman and Robin” in 1996. He received four other Emmy nominations, including three for animated series (two for “Casper,” one for “Batman: The Animated Series”) and one for music direction on a Patti LaBelle PBS special.
Cohen scored dozens of episodes of other animated shows throughout the ’90s, including “Superman,” “Tiny Toon Adventures” and “Taz-Mania” for Warner Bros. and “Little Mermaid,” “Gargoyles,” “Goof Troop” and “Bonkers” for Disney.
He scored “Santa vs. The Snowman,” the first IMAX 3-D animated feature, in 2002, and composed the music for the direct-to-video “Beauty and the Beast” sequel “Belle’s Magical World” in 1998.
Cohen also contributed music to many live action shows in the ’80s and ’90s, including “Dallas,” “Knots Landing,” “Growing Pains,” “Murphy Brown” and “The Wonder Years,” and orchestrated for several film composers including John Williams, Marc Shaiman, James Horner, Michael Kamen and Teddy Castellucci. Among his work for Shaiman was orchestrating Billy Crystal’s opening medley for the Academy Awards on four occasions.
Cohen arranged for numerous recording artists including Kenny G, Michael Feinstein, Monica Mancini, Patti Austin, Melissa Manchester, Liza Minnelli, Shirley MacLaine and Bernadette Peters. In 2005, he arranged the Kenny Ellis CD “Hanukkah Swings!” He also led his own 18-member big band which frequently performed in L.A. area venues.
His most recent concert commission was a three-movement work, “Columbia Suite for Orchestra,” a tribute to the space shuttle astronauts that was premiered in 2003 by the Tifereth Israel Community Orchestra in San Diego.
Cohen was born in Brookline, Mass., graduated from Connecticut’s Hartt College of Music and did graduate studies at Brooklyn College and L.A.’s Grove School of Music.
Survivors include his longtime partner Marilynn Musiker-Roth and her four children; and his mother.