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Lou Teicher, half of popular piano team, dies at 83
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Last updated: Thursday August 7, 2008, 5:09 AM
BY DENNIS MCLELLAN
NorthJersey.com
SPECIAL FROM THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
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Lou Teicher, half of the popular Ferrante & Teicher piano duo who had top-10 hits in the 1960s with their lushly orchestrated movie-theme singles, has died. He was 83.

Mr. Teicher, a longtime resident of Sarasota, Fla., who lived in Englewood Cliffs in the 1970s, died of heart failure Sunday at his summer home in Highlands, N.C., said Scott W. Smith, Ferrante and Mr. Teicher's personal manager.

In a musical collaboration that spanned five decades and ended when they retired from the concert stage in 1989, Ferrante & Teicher recorded 150 original albums that, along with dozens of singles, sold 88 million records worldwide. In the process, they earned 22 gold and platinum records.

"No one was more blessed than I to have Lou Teicher as my best friend since we met at the Juilliard School of Music at the ages of 9 and 6," Ferrante, 86, said in a statement. "Although we were two individuals, at the twin pianos our brains worked as one."

Ferrante and Mr. Teicher were faculty instructors at Juilliard by day - and performing standards on their twin pianos in posh Manhattan nightclubs at night - for a couple of years before they made their debut as a classical two-piano team at Town Hall in New York City in 1947.

They were soon touring North America and in 1952 began recording.

That included eight albums in the 1950s featuring what they termed their "prepared pianos," in which they altered the natural piano sound by adding various objects to the piano strings, including rubber wedges, metal chains, glass, wood and cardboard.

If that weren't wildly innovative enough, they also would reach inside their pianos to strum and pound on the strings.

"That became their gimmick to become noticed, and that got them on television in New York," said Smith. "Ernie Kovacs, Steve Allen and Dave Garroway picked them up immediately because it was avant-garde; it was weird."

Ferrante & Teicher's prepared-piano and classical albums of the 1950s were well received but no match for what came in 1960 with their recording of "Theme from 'The Apartment.' "

It became their first million-selling single. And when their recording of the theme from "Exodus" was released five months later, it would become their largest-selling single - some 6.5 million copies.

"The huge, dynamic, theatrical sound that they created is what people just swooned over," said Smith.

Dubbed "the Movie Theme Team," they had another million-selling Top 10 single with "Tonight" from "West Side Story" in 1961. And throughout the 1960s, they charted many top-40 movie theme singles, including those from "Lawrence of Arabia," "Mutiny on the Bounty" and "Cleopatra."

Their recording of the theme from "Midnight Cowboy" in 1969, was their last million-selling Top-10 single.

Mr. Teicher, who was born Aug. 24, 1924, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., lived in Sarasota on Siesta Key, not far from Ferrante, who lives on Longboat Key.

Mr. Teicher is survived by his wife, Betty; three children, Richard, Susan and David, and four grandchildren.

No funeral or memorial service is planned.

Lou Teicher, half of the popular Ferrante & Teicher piano duo who had top-10 hits in the 1960s with their lushly orchestrated movie-theme singles, has died. He was 83.

Mr. Teicher, a longtime resident of Sarasota, Fla., who lived in Englewood Cliffs in the 1970s, died of heart failure Sunday at his summer home in Highlands, N.C., said Scott W. Smith, Ferrante and Mr. Teicher's personal manager.

In a musical collaboration that spanned five decades and ended when they retired from the concert stage in 1989, Ferrante & Teicher recorded 150 original albums that, along with dozens of singles, sold 88 million records worldwide. In the process, they earned 22 gold and platinum records.

"No one was more blessed than I to have Lou Teicher as my best friend since we met at the Juilliard School of Music at the ages of 9 and 6," Ferrante, 86, said in a statement. "Although we were two individuals, at the twin pianos our brains worked as one."

Ferrante and Mr. Teicher were faculty instructors at Juilliard by day - and performing standards on their twin pianos in posh Manhattan nightclubs at night - for a couple of years before they made their debut as a classical two-piano team at Town Hall in New York City in 1947.

They were soon touring North America and in 1952 began recording.

That included eight albums in the 1950s featuring what they termed their "prepared pianos," in which they altered the natural piano sound by adding various objects to the piano strings, including rubber wedges, metal chains, glass, wood and cardboard.

If that weren't wildly innovative enough, they also would reach inside their pianos to strum and pound on the strings.

"That became their gimmick to become noticed, and that got them on television in New York," said Smith. "Ernie Kovacs, Steve Allen and Dave Garroway picked them up immediately because it was avant-garde; it was weird."

Ferrante & Teicher's prepared-piano and classical albums of the 1950s were well received but no match for what came in 1960 with their recording of "Theme from 'The Apartment.' "

It became their first million-selling single. And when their recording of the theme from "Exodus" was released five months later, it would become their largest-selling single - some 6.5 million copies.

"The huge, dynamic, theatrical sound that they created is what people just swooned over," said Smith.

Dubbed "the Movie Theme Team," they had another million-selling Top 10 single with "Tonight" from "West Side Story" in 1961. And throughout the 1960s, they charted many top-40 movie theme singles, including those from "Lawrence of Arabia," "Mutiny on the Bounty" and "Cleopatra."

Their recording of the theme from "Midnight Cowboy" in 1969, was their last million-selling Top-10 single.

Mr. Teicher, who was born Aug. 24, 1924, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., lived in Sarasota on Siesta Key, not far from Ferrante, who lives on Longboat Key.

Mr. Teicher is survived by his wife, Betty; three children, Richard, Susan and David, and four grandchildren.

No funeral or memorial service is planned.


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