bill conti 2

Oscar-winning composer Bill Conti will conduct the LSU Symphony Orchestra in a Sept. 17 concert.

The award-winning composer behind the music for films like "The Right Stuff" and "Rocky" is donating his collection of original scores to LSU Libraries' Special Collections.

William "Bill" Conti, 78, graduated from LSU's School of Music in 1963 before embarking on a prolific, decades-long career as a conductor and composer spanning both television and film. The collection will include 84 original scores.

The donation, among the largest in-kind gifts in the university's history, will allow aspiring musicians to learn from Conti's iconic works while ensuring their preservation.

The papers will be available to students, faculty and researchers and will strengthen the university's musicology and music theory programs, said Todd Queen, dean of LSU's College of Music & Dramatic Arts. 

“We are proud to be stewards of the life’s work of one of our own graduates and honored to have been part of Bill’s remarkable journey as a musician," Queen said.

Queen said he couldn't disclose the monetary value of the gift. 

Conti, an Oscar-winning composer who wrote the theme for "Dynasty" and the film scores for the "Karate Kid" series and "For Your Eyes Only," began performing in nightclubs when he was 14 in Miami Beach, Florida.

"My father was a musician. My grandfather was a musician. It was a part of my life forever. It wasn’t special; it was like breathing," Conti said in a press release from the university Tuesday. 

He played the piccolo in LSU's Tiger Band and was a piano player for the auditions for the LSU Ballet Corps — now known as the Golden Girls — where he met Shelby Cox, his now wife of more than 50 years. Together they have two daughters and five grandchildren, including one currently enrolled at LSU. 

"You can do music out of this school at the level of the highest music schools in this country. It’s a fact," Conti reflected on his experience at LSU when he visited in the fall. 

The donation will enhance LSU's role in preserving the university's shared culture for generations to come, said Stanley Wilder, dean of LSU's libraries. 


Email Blake Paterson at bpaterson@theadvocate.com and follow him on Twitter @blakepater