Alan Menken

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Alan Menken
Birth name Alan Irwin Menken
Born (1949-07-22) July 22, 1949 (age 64)
New Rochelle, New York, U.S.
Genres Pop, musical theatre, operatic pop, film score
Occupations Composer, songwriter, pianist, record producer[1]
Instruments Piano, keyboard, Guitar, Violin
Years active 1980-present
Labels Disneyland, Walt Disney Records, Warner Bros.
Associated acts Howard Ashman, Glenn Slater, Stephen Schwartz, Lisbeth Scott, Gonzaguinha, Elton John, Scorpions, Tim Rice, Judy Rothman, David Zippel, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

Alan Irwin Menken[2] (born July 22, 1949) is an American musical theatre and film composer and pianist.

Menken is best known for his scores for films produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. His scores for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Pocahontas have each won him two Academy Awards. He also composed the scores for The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Home on the Range, The Shaggy Dog, Enchanted, and most recently, Tangled. Menken has collaborated on several occasions with lyricists including Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, Glenn Slater and Stephen Schwartz. With eight Academy Award wins (four each for Best Original Score and Best Original Song), Menken is the second most prolific Oscar winner in a music category after Alfred Newman, who has nine Oscars.

Life and career[edit]

Menken was born in New York, NY to a Jewish[3] family, the son of Judith and Norman Menken, a dentist.[4] He developed an interest in music at an early age, studying piano and violin. He went to New Rochelle High School in New Rochelle, New York. He attended college as a pre-med student, but later changed his focus to music at New York University's Steinhardt School. After college, he attended the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop. He performed frequently in local clubs and worked as a composer of jingles and songs and as an accompanist. In the late 1970s, Menken wrote several shows that were successfully showcased, but were not produced. Menken's first major professional work was with Ashman for the Off-Broadway 1979 WPA Theatre production of the play God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, an adaptation of a Kurt Vonnegut novel. This was well received, but three years later, he achieved greater success with the 1982 Off-Broadway musical Little Shop of Horrors, again with Ashman, for which he earned a Drama Desk Award nomination. Little Shop was adapted for a successful motion picture and later received a Broadway run.

In 1983, Menken received the BMI Career Achievement Award for his body of work for musical theater, including Little Shop of Horrors, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Real Life Funnies, Atina: Evil Queen of the Galaxy (produced in workshop as Battle of the Giants), Patch, Patch, Patch, and contributions to numerous revues including Personals and Diamonds. In 1987, a musical adaptation of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, with lyrics by David Spencer, was produced in Philadelphia. In 1992, the WPA Theatre produced Menken's Weird Romance, also with lyrics also by Spencer. Menken's 1994 musical based on the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, with lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and book by Mike Ockrent, debuted at Madison Square Garden's Paramount Theater. The show proved successful and is becoming an annual New York holiday event. Menken received both Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominations for the music to the stage musical version of Beauty and the Beast which opened on Broadway in 1994.

Menken is best known, however, for his work over the past two decades with Walt Disney Pictures scoring numerous films, including Disney animated classics The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Home on the Range, and most recently, Disney's 2010 animated film Tangled. He also wrote music for the Disney live-action films Newsies (1992) and Enchanted (2007). Menken has received dual Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song on four of these projects. With eight Academy Award wins (four each for Best Original Score and Best Original Song), only composer Alfred Newman (nine wins) and Walt Disney (twenty two wins) have received more Oscars than Menken. He is tied in third place with late costume designer Edith Head. He currently holds the record for the most wins for a living person. He was named a Disney Legend in 2001.

A musical version of The Little Mermaid opened on Broadway in January 2008 and in Europe/Holland in June 2012. Menken's Sister Act the Musical was produced in London, 2009, and opened on Broadway in Spring 2011. He was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Score for his work.[5]

Menken received the 2,422nd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on November 10, 2010.[6]

He is working on stage adaptations of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Newsies and Aladdin.[7]

In December 2010, he was a guest on NPR's new quiz show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!.

In January 2013, he was a special guest at the annual Junior Theatre Festival in Atlanta, GA. He gave a special concert for attendees, including a special medley and several songs that were cut from various productions, while talking about his creative process. While there, he was also honered with the Freddie G. Award for Musical Achievement. Upon receiving this award, he was serenaded with "Be our Guest" by a select group of performers.[8]

Menken has been married to Janis Roswick-Menken since 1972, and the couple has two daughters.


Score and songs[edit]

Songs only[edit]


  • Sesame Street [the songs "Grouchelot", "It's Gonna Get Dirty Again," "Snuffle Friends," "Martian Family (Yip Yip Song)," and "Todos un Pueblo"] 1989-1990
  • Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue (supervising composer, the song "Wonderful Ways to Say No") 1990
  • A Christmas Carol 2004
  • The Neighbors - S01E20 "Sing Like a Larry Bird" [the songs "Broadway Alien song", "Giselle", "Broadway Alien song" (Reprise)] 2013 (Emmy nominee)



Upcoming projects[edit]

  • Disney has announced that Der Glöckner Von Notre Dame, the Berlin stage musical adaptation of Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame will possibly be coming to the Broadway stage in the next couple of years. Although the extended music and new songs with lyrics by Stephen Schwartz were completed for the 1999 premiere in Germany, the show is being fine tuned for American audiences.
  • A Broadway musical version of Disney's Aladdin, with a book by Chad Beguelin. The songs will be the ones featured in the movie, along with cut songs written by both Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. Aladdin: The New Stage Musical ran at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, Washington from July 7–31, 2011."[9]
  • Menken along with Weird Romance collaborator David Spencer wrote the musical The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, which is currently in Canada.[7]


Academy Award nominations and wins[edit]

Golden Globe nominations and wins[edit]

Grammy Awards[edit]

Menken has eleven Grammy awards, including Song of the Year for 1993.[10]

Tony Awards[edit]

Emmy Awards[edit]

Drama Desk Awards[edit]

Other awards[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ "Alan Menken – IMDb". Retrieved 18 May 2012. 
  2. ^ "Alan Menken Discography at Discogs". Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  3. ^ "Jewish songwriters". Virginia Commonwealth University. Retrieved 16 November 2013. 
  4. ^ "Alan Menken Biography (1949-)", accessed August 27, 2011
  5. ^ "2011 Tony Nominations Announced!", May 3, 2011
  6. ^ Gans, Andrew."Alan Menken to Be Honored with Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame", November 8, 2010
  7. ^ a b "BWW Exclusive: Alan Menken Talks 'Tangled', 'Sister Act', 'Leap Of Faith', 'Hunchback', 'Aladdin' & More", November 15, 2010
  8. ^ Junior Theatre Festival 2013
  9. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Disney's Aladdin Will Come to Life on Stage at Seattle's 5th Avenue; Casey Nicholaw Will Direct", January 14, 2011
  10. ^ "Past Winners Search". Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  11. ^ "Nominations 2013 Outstanding Original Music Lyrics". Retrieved 7 December 2013. 

External links[edit]