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Else Blangsted (1920–2020), acclaimed movie music editor

by Kirk Fox

Else Blangsted was an acclaimed movie music editor known as the “Queen of Music Editors.” She fled from Germany to the United States to escape Nazi Germany.  

  • Died: Friday, May 1, 2020 (Who else died on May 1?) 
  • Details of Death: Died at the age of 99 from natural causes at her home in Los Angeles.  
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Reuniting with her daughter she thought passed away in childbirth 

Blangsted, who lived in Germany, became pregnant as a teenager while attending a Jewish boarding school in Switzerland. Ashamed of her pregnancy, she attempted suicide but was not successful. Later, after giving birth, she was told her baby did not survive. Unknown to Blangsted, her parents, ashamed and worried about Nazi persecution, had given the baby up for adoption to a German-Swiss couple.

Blangsted fled to the United States shortly after. Decades later, in 1984, she discovered that her daughter was alive and living in Switzerland. They reunited and were able to establish a relationship. In the documentary “Looking for Else,” Blangsted said of the reunion, “it was the end of drama, the end of shame, the end of accusations, the end of migraines.” 

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Legendary movie music editor 

Blangsted worked as a music editor for “Ordinary People,” “Tootsie,” “The Color Purple,” and a long list of other Hollywood movies. She was awarded a lifetime achievement from the Motion Picture Sound Editors. Blangsted told the Hollywood Reporter the music she wanted played at her memorial. “‘God Bless the Child’ by Billie Holiday is No. 1,” she said. “And I’d also like Randy Newman to be there to perform ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On.'” 

What they said about her

“The loss of Else Blangsted is a tragic milestone in my life. For years, she was my anchor in the turbulent and frantic business of scoring for film. And while the ultimate use of film music is to enhance the movie, we also needed to satisfy the powers that be: the directors and producers [and sometimes the stars]. But for me, the most pertinent question about my own work always was, ‘Does Else think it’s OK?’ She was my personal quality guru, and she extended that humanity into many other parts of my life. Vielen dank, meine liebste Else.” —Composer and musician Dave Grusin in a statement

Full Obituary: New York Times

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