Peter Melnick - Composer
Composer Peter Melnick was Drama Desk-nominated for the music for Adrift in Macao, (book & lyrics by Christopher Durang). In collaboration with librettist Bill Russell, he wrote The Last Smoker in America, and musical one-acts Patter for the Floating Lady, based on Steve Martin's eponymous play, and A Bad Spell, adapted from Virginia Morricone’s short story, "Simple Arithmatic." His music for dance includes the scores to Twyla Tharp's “Sextet” and Rudy Perez’s “Agenda.”
Melnick is currently adapting Pete Hamill's Snow in August for Broadway, collaborating with lyricist Mindi Dickstein (Little Women) and book-writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark, the TV series Glee, and the upcoming musical adaptation of American Psycho).
Melnick has contributed scores to over thirty films, television shows and documentaries. His scoring credits include the Steve Martin comedy L.A. Story; The Only Thrill, with Diane Keaton and Sam Shepard; Horton Foote's Convicts, with Robert Duvall and James Earl Jones; and Bob Saget's truly obscene Farce of the Penguins, with... penguins. His television credits include PBS feature-length documentary, Cinema's Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood; Indictment: The McMartin Trial; Grand Avenue; and Lily Dale, also by Horton Foote.
Melnick attended Harvard College, Berklee College of Music, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He also studied privately with jazz pianist Jaki Byard. (Disclosure: he dropped out of Harvard one year shy of a degree in order to study music at Berklee, which he similarly abandoned seven semesters later when offered his first film scoring assignment. He does, however, have a perfectly nice high school diploma, of which he is inordinately proud.) Melnick grew up in New York, the product of an extraordinary entertainment family. His father was the late film producer Daniel Melnick (All That Jazz, Straw Dogs, Altered States, Footloose, Roxanne, That's Entertainment, and the seminal television comedy Get Smart). His mother is Linda Rodgers (composer of "Three to Make Music," "A Child's Introduction to Jazz" and numerous popular children’s songs) and his grandfather was legendary composer Richard Rodgers.
Melnick now makes his home in New York, although he continues to have strong ties to his West Coast community in Santa Barbara, California. Raised in the New York tradition of bagels-and-lox secular Judaism, Melnick has since connected with the Jewish world in a more active way. He became an adult bar-mitzvah in his thirties, and subsequently had the joy of teaching his own son how to chant Torah. He co-founded the Israel Committee of Santa Barbara, a group that fosters support for Israel through nuanced educational programs rather than propaganda, and he serves as president of the Community Shul of Montecito and Santa Barbara. Israel and its complexities are his third great passion, after family and musical theater.