Maury Laws

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Maury Laws was a successful, though workaday composer, arranger, and musical director, whose career took him from the big band era to a successful stint writing for television; notably for boomers (and…
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Maury Laws was a successful, though workaday composer, arranger, and musical director, whose career took him from the big band era to a successful stint writing for television; notably for boomers (and their kids, somewhat), he wrote most of the Rankin-Bass animated Christmas specials. Born in North Carolina, Laws decided on guitar as his first instrument, playing country music in his home town when he was 12-years-old. By the age of 16, he had moved along to jazz, playing in bands at dances and functions. After World War II, he continued with playing in jazz combos until deciding to pursue a formal music education in New York. (His teacher was Tibor Serly, an associate of Bela Bartok). Laws made the move to television in its earliest days, accompanying vocal groups, arranging and composing for them, and scoring commercials. In the early '60s, he recorded a few hi-fi albums for the Time label, Epic, and Hallmark, with his own orchestra. But his big break came in 1965, when he landed the job of musical director for Rankin-Bass' Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. His resumé from then on reads like nostalgia for the 30- to 40-year-old set: Frosty the Snowman, Mad Monster Party (his most successful compositions, now a cult favorite among the Tim Burton set), Cricket on the Hearth, Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town, Here Comes Peter Cottontail, and, much later, The Hobbit. In the '90s and 2000s, Laws returned to his big band youth, arranging for various nostalgia groups such as Five by Design and Big Band Reunion. He also composed for off-Broadway theater and wrote symphonic works for numerous orchestras.