Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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(b 23 Dec. 1901, St Petersburg, Russia; d 14 January 1980 in Haiti, of pneumonia) Arranger, conductor of high-class pop and light classical music. He was popular and influential on radio from the 1930s; he invented the genre of 'easy listening' or 'mood music' ('light music' in Britain) before it had a name, and continued playing it after the competition (Percy Faith, Mantovani, Melachrino etc) had retired or died. And there was more to him than that; he commissioned music from American composers Aaron Copland, William Schuman, Paul Creston, Ferde Grofé, Virgil Thomson, Alan Hovhaness and Ezra Laderman; William Walton dedicated his Capriccio Burlesco to Kostelanetz.

His own best records were lovely arrangements of Broadway show tunes by George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, Vincent Youmans on Columbia 78s, reissued on LP in the '50s; also Lure Of The Tropics, including a famous arrangement of Lecuona's 'Malagueña'.  He accompanied Perry Como on RCA including his no. 1 hit 'Prisoner Of Love' '46, soprano Lily Pons (one of his three wives) on USA Columbia, soprano Beverly Sills in Music Of Victor Herbert on EMI/Angel '76. There were dozens of albums on Columbia from the 78 era up to the 1980s.