Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Plays the Music of Danny Elfman


Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton to be conducted by Ted Sperling

 PITTSBURGH – Listen and watch as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra brings life to Danny Elfman’s famous film scores, accompanied by the visuals of Tim Burton’s original film sketches and film clips on the big screen. This new orchestra event comes to Heinz Hall on Saturday, November 23 at 8 p.m.

The concert celebrates nearly three decades of a partnership between Elfman and Burton, and will feature classic films such as “Beetlejuice,” “Batman/Batman Returns,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Alice in Wonderland.”  Experience firsthand the collaborative relationship between music and storytelling and the importance that it has in filmmaking.

“I’ve always heard Danny’s scores performed live during our recording sessions for the films we’ve collaborated on,” says Burton. “For others to finally be able to hear his music live is really something special.”

Tickets, ranging in price from $25 to $105, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900, or at www.pittsburghsymphony.org.

During the last 30 years, four-time Oscar nominee Danny Elfman has established himself as one of the most versatile and accomplished film composers in the industry. He has collaborated with such directors as Tim Burton, Gus Van Sant, Sam Raimi, Paul Haggis, Ang Lee, Rob Marshall, Guillermo del Toro, Brian De Palma and Peter Jackson. A native of Los Angeles, Elfman grew up loving film music. He travelled the world as a young man, absorbing its musical diversity. He helped found the band Oingo Boingo, and came to the attention of a young Tim Burton, who asked him to write the score for “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.” Elfman has scored a broad range of films, including “Milk,” “Good Will Hunting,” “Big Fish,” “Men in Black,” “Wanted,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Planet of the Apes,” “Spider-Man” (1 & 2), “Batman,” “Dolores Claiborne,” “Chicago” and “Dick Tracy.” Most recently he provided the music for David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook,” Sam Raimi’s “Oz: The Great and Powerful,” Sasha Gervasi’s Academy Award nominated film “Hitchcock” and the Errol Morris documentary “The Unknown Known.”  In addition to his film work, Elfman wrote the iconic theme music for the television series “The Simpsons” and “Desperate Housewives.” He also composed a ballet, “Rabbit and Rogue;” a symphony, “Serenada Schizophrana,” for Carnegie Hall; “The Overeager Overture” for the Hollywood Bowl; and “Iris,” a Cirque du Soleil show.

 Tim Burton, widely regarded as one of the cinema’s most imaginative filmmakers, has enjoyed great success in both the live-action and animation arenas. Burton began his film career in animation, and in 1982 directed the stop-motion animated short “Vincent,” narrated by Vincent Price, which was an award winner on the film festival circuit. He made his feature film directorial debut in 1985 with the hit comedy “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.” In 1988, Burton helmed the inventive comedy hit “Beetlejuice,” starring Michael Keaton as the title character. He reteamed with Keaton on the action blockbusters “Batman,” which became the top-grossing film of 1989. In 1990, Burton directed, co-wrote and produced the romantic fantasy “Edward Scissorhands,” which was acclaimed by both critics and audiences. The film also marked the start of his successful cinematic partnership with Johnny Depp. Burton was honored with an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature for the 2005 stop-motion film “Corpse Bride,” which he directed and produced. He earlier received BAFTA Award and Critics’ Choice Award nominations for Best Director for the acclaimed fantasy drama “Big Fish.”  More recently, Burton won a National Board of Review Award and garnered Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Award nominations for his directing work on “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” which also won the Golden Globe for Best Film – Musical or Comedy.  In 2010, he directed “Alice in Wonderland,” an epic fantasy based on the classic story by Lewis Carroll. Also in 2010, the filmmaker released “The Art of Tim Burton,” a 430-page book comprising more than 40 years of his personal and project artwork. In November of that year, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) opened an extensive exhibit of his work, which went on to tour in Melbourne, Toronto, Los Angeles, Paris, and Seoul.  In 2012 Burton directed the gothic thriller “Dark Shadows,” based on the cult favorite television show. Most recently, Burton directed and produced the critically acclaimed “Frankenweenie” which was a 2012 Academy Award nominee for Best Animated Picture.

Ted Sperling is a conductor, music director, arranger, singer, pianist and violinist. He was music director and conductor of the first Broadway revival of “South Pacific,” which won seven 2008 Tony Awards. In 2005, Sperling won the Tony and Drama Desk Awards (with Adam Guettel and Bruce Coughlin) for his orchestrations of “The Light in the Piazza,” for which he also was music director. His recent performances include programs with the New York Philharmonic; “The Mikado” and “The Grapes of Wrath” at Carnegie Hall; “Brooklyn Village” with the Brooklyn Philharmonic and Brooklyn Youth Chorus; and a Leonard Bernstein tribute for New York City Opera as well as concerts with the Chicago Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, National Opera Orchestra, Alabama Symphony and Westchester Philharmonic. Sperling was music director and conductor of the 2009 Tony Award Nominated revival of “Guys and Dolls.” Other Broadway credits as music director/conductor/pianist include “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”, “The Full Monty,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” “Angels in America,” “My Favorite Year,” “Falsettos,” “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” “Les Misérables,” “Roza” and “Sunday in the Park with George.” Sperling’s work as a stage director includes the world premieres of four musicals: “See What I Wanna See,” “V-Day,” “Charlotte: Life? Or Theater?” and “Striking 12,” as well as a revival of “Lady in the Dark.” He has conducted the scores for the films “The Manchurian Candidate” and “Everything Is Illuminated,” and directed the short film, “Love Mom,” starring Tonya Pinkins, which has been shown in five international festivals. Sperling was a recipient of the 2006 Ted Shen Family Foundation Award for leadership in the musical theater and is the director of the Music Theater Initiative at the Public Theater, as well as the creative director of the 24-Hour Musicals.

Teddy Sweeney has been singing in the prestigious Choir of Men and Boys of Christ Church Grosse Pointe since 2008. Under the tutelage of Scott Hanoian, he has travelled with the choir throughout the United States and Europe, most notably to the National Cathedral in Washington D.C., Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and St. Peter’s in Rome, and he has performed solos in masterworks by Britten, Schubert and Mozart. In February 2012, Sweeney, with the CCGP choirs, performed in the University of Michigan’s production of Orff’s “Carmina Burana.” In May 2013, he performed a duet from Bach’s Cantata 91 for a CCGP member’s Master’s Recital, also at the University of Michigan. Sweeny recently performed as the treble soloist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in “Music of Danny Elfman from the Movies of Tim Burton” under the direction of Ted Sperling.  As an eighth grade honor student at Brownell Middle School, Sweeney plays trumpet in the band and piano in the Jazz Band. He has also appeared in musical productions of “Beauty and the Beast” and “Once Upon a Mattress” at Brownell. A proficient pianist, Sweeney plays in several competitions every year.

Editors Please Note:

Saturday, Nov. 23, 8 p.m.

Heinz Hall
TED SPERLING, conductor
DANNY ELFMAN, film composer
TIM BURTON, filmmaker


  • “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”

Act I:

  • “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” — Finale
  • “Beetlejuice” — End Credits
  • “Sleepy Hollow”
  • “Mars Attacks” — Main Titles
  • “Big Fish” — Titles; Sandra’s Theme; End Titles
  • “Batman” Suite


Act II:

  • “Planet of the Apes” — Main Titles
  • “Corpse Bride” — End Credits
  • “Dark Shadows” — Prologue
  • “Frankenweenie” — Re-animation
  • Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” Instrumental Suite
  • “Edward Scissorhands” — Ice Dance; Edward the Barber; Grand finale


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