Composer Ralph Ferraro, orchestrator for the animated movies The Lord Of The Rings(1978) and The Chipmunk Adventure (1987), died April 3 at UCLA Medical Center of respiratory failure. He was 82.
Ferraro orchestrated the ride “Imagination” — based on songs by Disney songwriting siblings Richard and Robert Sherman — for Walt Disney’s Epcot Center in 1982.
He was best known as an orchestrator for composers including Leonard Rosenman (on such films as Lord of the Rings, A Man Called Horse and the Oscar-winning Bound for Glory), Randy Edelman (Gettysburg, DragonHeart and XXX), Quincy Jones (The Wiz) and Bill Conti (Masters of the Universe). But he sometimes ventured into the exotic, composing the music for the 1974 sci-fi sex spoof Flesh Gordon.
Ferraro’s work as a composer included several TV series; he scored episodes of The Virginian, It Takes a Thief, The Name of the Game and The Men From Shiloh. As well, he composed for several pilots, including 1980’s Riding for the Pony Express.
Among his movie scoring credits were the 1960s and 1970s films The King’s Pirate, She Beast and Antonio.
Born Ralph Albert Ferraro in Waterbury, Connecticut on July 3, 1929, he received a music degree from the Manhattan School of Music. Following United States Navy service, he moved to Rome, Italy to work as a jazz drummer, including much work for Italian movies and TV.
He was a percussionist on many scores for famed Italian movies, working with directors Nino Rota (La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2 and Juliet of the Spirits), Ennio Morricone (The Battle of Algiers), Riz Ortolani (Mondo Cane) and Armando Trovaioli (Two Women).
In 1962, he started arranging for Rosenman in Rome, a gig he continued to do upon returning to the United States in 1967.
Ferraro arranged for such singers as Rod McKuen, Donny Osmond and Andy Williams.
Ralph Ferraro is survived by his wife and two daughters.