Born: May 7, 1895, Etna Green, Indiana.
Died: January 6, 1960, Los Angeles, California.
Buried: Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Los Angeles, California.
Max was the son of Harvey Rapp and Nellie Hutchison.
He started wiggling his fingers at a very early age, sitting on hymn books in order to reach the piano. His mother had been the pianist for their local church and a piano teacher in town, passing away when Max was only a year old.
Max followed in her footsteps, becoming the pianist at the Baptist church in Warsaw, Indiana, and teaching at the Warsaw Conservatory of Music, which he founded in 1919.
After organizing and directing a number of bands, he appeared on several early radio programs, which led to a brief career as a touring musician He became well known on concert stages throughout America, from Chicago to Los Angeles.
After marrying concert pianist Irene Taylor, they moved to Hollywood, California, where Max became a contract composer for 20th Century Fox, Radio-Keith-Orpheum (RKO), United Artists, Paramount and Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM).
In 1935, he became Orchestra Contractor and a staff composer for Universal Pictures, where he would stay until his death.
Family stories tell of Max often bringing home friends like Nat King Cole and Henry Mancini, who mentioned Max in his autobiography Did They Mention The Music?
The extent of Rapp’s film compositions is not fully known, since his name was often omitted from the pieces he wrote under contract. Some films for which he received credit are: You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man (1939), East Side of Heaven (1939), Top Sergeant (1942), and House of Frankenstein (1944). He no doubt contributed to many more in his 25 year career.
Upon Rapp’s death, the Los Angeles Times ran the headline:
Max Rapp, 64, Screen Music Arranger, Dies.