Carmine Coppola; Composer, Conductor


Carmine Coppola, Academy Award-winning Hollywood composer and conductor and the father of director Francis Ford Coppola and actress Talia Shire, died Friday at the age of 80.

A family spokesman said Coppola died at Northridge Hospital where he had been taken after a stroke suffered in his Woodland Hills Home.

Coppola, a classically trained flutist and composer, shared an Academy Award with Nino Rota in 1974 for best original dramatic score for the second of his son’s “Godfather” film trilogy, “The Godfather Part II.” The films co-starred Miss Shire.

Born in Manhattan on June 11, 1910, the elder Coppola studied at Juilliard School of Music and Manhattan School of Music.


He was performing as first flutist with the Detroit Symphony when his son Francis was born, and in the same position with the NBC Symphony in New York when his daughter arrived.

Coppola played and arranged music for the Radio City Music Hall orchestra, and then shifted to conducting for Broadway musicals such as “Kismet” and “Once Upon a Mattress.”

He was lured to Hollywood by his son, first teaming with him on his motion picture adaptation of the Broadway musical “Finian’s Rainbow.” The elder Coppola also scored the films “Apocalypse Now,” “The Outsiders,” “Gardens of Stone,” “The Godfather” as well as its first sequel, and “The Black Stallion.”

But he achieved perhaps his greatest worldwide fame in 1981 for writing 3 1/2 hours of music for his son’s revival of the French silent film epic “Napoleon.” Coppola conducted symphony orchestras at special showings of the four-hour movie throughout the world, including the Shrine Auditorium.

“I don’t have the chops left,” he conceded after trying a few scales on his old silver flute during the “Napoleon” tour. “I haven’t been practicing.”

Although he felt that his classical compositions would outlast his film scores, Coppola never denigrated his work in Hollywood.

“I always felt the public hadn’t heard my music,” he once told the Los Angeles Times, “until I started writing for the films a little bit.”

In addition to his son and daughter, Coppola is survived by his wife, lyricist Italia Pennino, and another son, August, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.


Funeral services are scheduled at 2:30 p.m. next Wednesday in the Old North Church, Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.