Charles Gerhardt

Gerhardt, Charles

Charles Allan Gerhardt (February 6, 1927 – February 22, 1999) was an American conductor, record producer, and arranger.

Gerhardt grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he studied the piano at age five and composition at age nine. He studied music and engineering at several colleges including the University of Illinois, the University of Southern California, and the College of William & Mary. He also studied piano privately and at the Juilliard School. His formal education was interrupted by World War II, during which he served in the Navy in the Aleutians as a chaplain’s assistant.

The Reader’s Digest projects created so much recording work that there was need for another orchestra and conductor in London. Together with violinist and orchestral contractor Sidney Sax, Gerhardt formed an orchestra of top London orchestral and freelance musicians in 1964 for use in his recording sessions. He began to record this group in January 1964. The orchestra was incorporated as the National Philharmonic Orchestra in 1970 and Gerhardt himself conducted it in standard repertory, contemporary works, and film score music. Leopold Stokowski made some of his last recordings with this same orchestra.

Gerhardt had received some training in conducting, as well as advice from Jascha Horenstein. His 1967 conducting of the so-called RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra (which was actually the National Philharmonic Orchestra) of Howard Hanson’s Symphony No. 2 (The Romantic) garnered the praise of the composer.

One particularly successful set Gerhardt conducted with the National Philharmonic Orchestra included the 14 LPs of the Classic Film Scores series for RCA, issued 1972–1978. This started with the 1972 release The Sea Hawk: The Classic Film Scores of Erich Wolfgang Korngold. The whole series was notable especially for Gerhardt’s own, extremely careful, preparation of the scores. Recordings were made in the acoustically outstanding Kingsway Hall and engineered by Kenneth Wilkinson. The producer of the series was George Korngold, the composer’s son. The series continued with albums devoted to Max Steiner, Miklós Rózsa, Franz Waxman, Alfred Newman, Dimitri Tiomkin, Bernard Herrmann and John Williams as well as albums devoted to music in the films of Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, and Errol Flynn. A number of additional pieces were recorded but remain in the vaults. BMG reissued the Classic Film Scores on CD encoded in Dolby Surround. In 2010, RCA Sony rereleased six of the original CD releases.[1] In 2011, additional albums were reissued. Although the new CDs do not mention it, the reissues still feature Dolby Surround encoding.[2]

Albums Featuring this Artist