John Max Leipold (February 26, 1888 in Hunter, NY – March 8, 1970 in Dallas, TX) was a prolific American film and radio score composer. He is most noted for winning 1939 Academy Award for Best Original Score for the film Stagecoach, along with Richard Hageman, Frank Harling, and Leo Shuken.[1]


Leipold was born in Hunter, NY in 1888 to John G. and Lena M. Leipold. In 1916 he married Caroline Anna Ebel (1889–1982) in Poughkeepsie, New York.[2]

From 1912 to 1922 he conducted vaudeville and light opera in New York. He then spent four years as music director for the Al G. Field Minstrels, where he directed the orchestra and chorus and contributed original music.[3] He was likely hired by Joseph Hatfield after Al G. Field Minstrel founder Al G. Field's death.[4][5] From 1927 to 1928 he was an arranger for Remick Music.[4] He wrote music for circus bandleader Merle Evans.[6]

In 1928 he moved to Hollywood and worked in Paramount Studios' music department.[7] He began as a librarian under Nat W. Finston, where he would select stock music for films and add his own compositions. He contributed music and arrangements to hundreds of films, most of it uncredited (including two Marx Brothers films). In 1939 his contributions to the score for Stagecoach were awarded the Academy Award; this led to him scoring a number of westerns for Harry Sherman Productions from 1939 to 1942.[4]

Starting in 1942 he began to compose mostly for CBS, including for two Three Stooges films. From 1943 to 1948 he was composing and conducting for CBS; his output dwindled after this. He died in Dallas, TX in 1970.[4]

He wrote two educational texts, The John Leipold Lessons in Counterpoint, and The John Leipold Lessons in Harmony, and advertised them in musical trades.[8][9] In 1952 he wrote another text Mathematics of Pitch.[10]

Selected filmography


  1. ^ "Browser Unsupported - Academy Awards Search | Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences". Retrieved 2024-01-30.
  2. ^ Church, Poughkeepsie (N Y. ) Christ (1916). The Records of Christ Church, Poughkeepsie, New York: Parish register, 1766-1916. F. B. Howard. p. 216.
  3. ^ Piddington, George (May 30, 1925). "Minstrelsy" (PDF). The Billboard. XXXVII (22): 39.
  4. ^ a b c d Sherk, Warren M. (2011). "Leipold, John". Grove Music Online. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.a2093361. Retrieved 2024-01-30.
  5. ^ "Minstrelsy (Communications to our Cincinnati Offices)". The Billboard. 36 (33): 66. August 16, 1924.
  6. ^ "Music Collection". Robert L. Parkinson Library and Research Center Finding Aids. Retrieved 2024-01-30.
  7. ^ Kalinak, Kathryn (2007-09-17). How the West Was Sung: Music in the Westerns of John Ford. University of California Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-520-25234-9.
  8. ^ Office, Library of Congress Copyright (1949). Catalog of Copyright Entries: Third series. p. 115.
  9. ^ "Self Education in Counterpoint and Harmony" (PDF). International Musician. XLVII (12): 30. June 1949.
  10. ^ Office, Library of Congress Copyright (1952). Catalog of Copyright Entries: Third series. p. 125.