John Alexander headshot

Richard Manners

Richard Manners is Chicago born and educated. He began piano lessons at age four with Chicago Symphony harpsichordist Gavin Williamson, performing with the Chicago Symphony at age eleven. During his years at Austin High School (Benny Goodman’s alma mater), he added the oboe to his list of studies, and was actively composing and arranging for his own jazz octet. While in college, Mr. Manners was commissioned by the Goodman Theater of Chicago’s Art Institute to compose the musical scores for the productions of Comedy of Errors, Wise Men of Chelm, and Rumplestiltskin. His composition and orchestration teachers included Karel Jirak, Charles Garland and Robert Lombardo. He completed the bachelor’s degree program at Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University in 1963 and received his master’s degree in 1965.

 Mr. Manners has been extremely successful in the field of commercial music. Over the last 30 years, he has composed and produced music tracks for radio, television, and films for an extensive list of major companies in the country, including such familiar names as Sears, RCA, Sony, Oldsmobile, Buick, Mazda, Green Giant, Kellogg’s, State Farm, Allstate, Arthur Andersen, Kraft Foods, Hallmark, Ace Hardware, Raid, Dean Witter, Huffy Bicycles, Keebler, McDonald’s, and Betty Crocker. He composed the score for the PBS series on economist and author Milton Friedman, Free to Choose, and the American Playhouse production of Come Along With Me, directed by Joanne Woodward. 

Mr. Manners has been the recipient of many awards and honors, including the Oliver Ditson Award and the Roosevelt University Fellowship for Graduate Studies; he was recognized by the prestigious BMI Composers’ Award for his song cycle Blue Symphony for voice and piano on a text by John Gould Fletcher, and received the Cannes Film Festival Award for his score for John Paul Jones, the Ciné Golden Eagle Award for the film score I’ll Quit Tomorrow, the ASIFA Award for the score to the animated film Whazzat  for the Encyclopedia Brittanica, numerous CLIO awards for television commercial scores, and the New York International Film Festival Award for the score to Grandfather, the first commercial filmed at the Berlin wall.

 In 1979, Mr. Manners was commissioned by Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to compose a violin concerto for Joseph Golan, the orchestra’s principal second violinist. Following the performances of the piece, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he also received a commission from Chicago’s classical radio station WFMT-FM to compose a fanfare recorded by the Chicago Symphony Brass Quintet and broadcast as part of the station’s 25th anniversary celebration. This was followed by a commission by the Lake Forest Symphony to compose and conduct a concerto for jazz septet and orchestra, another by the Carmel Symphony, and two commissions from the King’s Singers of King’s College, Cambridge.