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Happy 100th birthday to American composer, arranger and orchestrator Sid Ramin!

Posted January 18, 2019

"Sid," as he was known by one and all, is the quintessential superstar-behind-the-scenes. To Leonard Bernstein, Sid was almost like a magic totem.

For one thing, Sid knew Lenny from the very beginning; the two boys lived in the same neighborhood, and were close friends even before their bar-mitzvahs. As Lenny discovered music, he shared everything he knew with Sid, who gratefully soaked it all up like a sponge. Eventually, Sid became a skilled orchestrator and arranger, and Lenny embraced his old friend, now as an indispensable colleague.

With co-orchestrator Irv Kostal, Sid worked closely with Leonard Bernstein to orchestrate the score for both the Broadway and film versions of West Side Story. Sid also helped his friend to orchestrate two additional Broadway shows: Wonderful Town and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Sid Ramin is in that exclusive club of 22 artists that have been awarded an Oscar, an Emmy, and a Grammy. He received both the Oscar and the Grammy in 1961 for his work on the film version of West Side Story, and later, in 1982, a daytime Emmy (co-winner) for his role as composer for All My Children.

Sid's career in television, film, and stage spans 60+ years, and includes credits for Gypsy, Jerome Robbins' Broadway, Crazy For You, The Milton Berle Show, Candid Camera, and The Patty Duke Show, for which he composed the iconic theme song. ("But they're cousins... identical cousins...") Another unforgettable Sid Ramin tune is the 1966 hit Music to Watch Girls By, which reached possibly even greater fame in a commercial for Diet Pepsi.

In an interesting footnote, Sid Ramin is one of the very few non-Bernsteins who can speak Rybernian, the language devised by Lenny and fellow neighborhood pal, Eddie Ryack. Sid was there at the creation of this uniquely goofy private language.

The Bernstein Office, and the Bernstein family, unanimously wish our beloved Sid at least 100 years more -- and we send love as well to his devoted and divine wife of 70 years, Gloria, and their chip-off-the-old-block son, composer Ron Ramin.
-Jamie Bernstein

In 2011, Jamie Bernstein interviewed Sid about his experience in orchestrating the West Side Story score, and working with his lifelong friend.
Enjoy!