Mark McKenzie



Composer Mark McKenzie’s film score to MAX AND ME has been nominated by the International Film Music Critics Association as the 2018 BEST FILM SCORE OF THE YEAR along with Ludwig Göransson’s BLACK PANTHER, Justin Hurwitz’s FIRST MAN, Marc Shaiman’s MARY POPPINS and John Powell’s SOLO. The composer is grateful to the many fine film music journalists and critics from the international community, many of whom are composers in their own right.

Polish priest Maximillian Kolbe, tortured at Auschwitz asked those around him to not be overcome with hatred but to love for “Only love is creative.” His compassion lead him to sacrificially die in Auschwitz’s starvation bunker to help a man with children survive. The film makers, musicians and I wish for this message of hope, love, and beauty will be enjoyed by many and spread widely. A portion of each sale goes to the Shoa Foundation, Word Vision and Catholic Relief Services. The Sony Masterworks soundtrack is available everywhere digital music is sold. Max and Me is dedicated to the memory of choral master and mentor Robert Salvatore Ruberto 1932-2016.

A warm thank you to those who performed the music and those who made the music possible; Joshua Bell, conductor Gordon Johnson, Robert Prizeman and the Libera Boys Choir, Isobel Griffith and the London symphony orchestra, Ben Parry, Terry Edwards and the London Voices, soloist Clara Sanabras, boy soprano Issac Thomas engineers Peter Cobbin and Armin Steiner, music editor Marc Perlman and copyist Gregg Nestor. Thank you to Producer Pablo Barroso, writer and director Bruce Morris, Associate producer Claudia Nemr, animators Paty García Peña, and Gregorio Núñez.

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Composer Fryderyk Chopin / Józef Elsner / The Lost Child

Sometime ago, while in Paris I ran across this Louvre portrait of a composer I enjoy possibly more than any other: Fryderyk Chopin. I love the ground breaking new definitive biography of Chopin called “Fryderyk Chopin: A Life and Times” by Alan Walker. Chopin’s piano virtuosity was not bombastic which was in vogue at the time with Franz Liszt and others but rather his playing was deeply sensitive so much so that some complained his pianissimo was too soft. He was a very compassionate, sensitive young man,  loving to his parents and family, deeply concerned about the brutal Russian oppression of his Polish people, hurt by two failed marriage attempts and ended up living for 10 years with probably the most independent and most forward thinking woman’s liberation thinker of her day: George Sands. He also had a sense of humor and playful side to his closest friends.  I am especially taken by Chopin’s composition teacher Józef Elsner and his maxims to his students posted on his office door. They demonstrate how a fine composition teacher thinks. Here they are: “It is a bad master who is not surpassed by his student.  The study of composition should not be restrained by observing too many petty rules, especially by students who’s gifts are self evident. Allow them to discover the rules for themselves. One should never expose a student to just one point of view. It is not enough for a student to equal his or surpass his master, rather, he should create his own individuality. * An artist should open himself to his surroundings. Only then, and only through such influences can he attain his true self. Each part of a composition should share the same objective. It should belong to the whole. Otherwise the beauty of a work is lost, for all beauty arises from the union of multiple parts.” Józef Elsner’s ideas encourage creativity. There is some Chopin / Elsner influence in my music and particularly in the “Lost Child.” If you are a pianist pick up the sheet music to “The Lost Child Suite for Piano” in the music shop.

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Public Radio “A Conversation with Mark McKenzie” beautiful one hour overview of Mark’s music now available online

“A Conversation With Mark McKenzie” aired on many public radio stations recently. This one hour overview containing some of my most beautiful original scores is now online HERE. Sometimes, while burning midnight oil orchestrating what turned out to be about 100 films for composers like Broughton, Elfman, Goldsmith, Silvestri, Shaiman, Williams and others, I wondered when my pencil would be devoted to McKenzie music. Fast forward…22 original soundtracks and Edmund Stone’s “The Score” broadcast to a million listeners gives reason to be grateful. If you’ve ever wondered about my music, this is a great place to start. Included are two extended suites from Max and Me which is being repeatedly called “Score of the Year.” The original manuscript to the final track Heaven’s Welcome is above. I invite you to listen online:

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Dedication to choral master Robert Ruberto

“Max and Me” is dedicated to the memory of Choral master Robert Salvatore Ruberto 1932-2016.

The Power of a Teacher and Music by Mark McKenzie

There is a story behind each of us that probably includes at least one teacher. For me it was a choir teacher named Robert Salvatore Ruberto (1932-2016). He patiently filled my head with music, dreams, poetry, wisdom, laughter, encouragement and discipline. In addition to the thousands he conducted in his choirs over the years, he personally mentored and counseled hundreds of us through every conceivable crisis. While he was alive, he wasn’t interested in honors saying: “I’ve been honored enough, the joy is in the journey and in my students.” Though I have thanked him on 17 movie soundtracks, a new Sony Masterworks soundtrack called Max and Me, recorded at Abbey Road Studios with 135 of London’s finest symphonic and choral musicians along with concert violinist Joshua Bell, is solely dedicated to this public school teacher’s memory.

In high school, I spent every free minute practicing piano and organ in Robert’s tiny office. How he endured bad Elton John, Beethoven, and my early noodling compositions day after day is a mystery. After playing a piano-organ solo in front of a large audience in my small hometown, I pushed Robert’s upright piano back in order to perform an encore. As I pushed, the tall piano got snagged on a crack in the old High School wooden stage and began to tip backwards in slow motion. I frantically grabbed trying to hold the 700lb piano up but to no effect. It slammed flat on its back with the loudest crash I’ve ever heard. The audience stunned, I stood paralyzed thinking “I’ve just destroyed Robert’s only piano in front of my entire community and he will be livid.” I desperately wanted to be beamed out like Captain Kirk. Shielding my eyes from the glaring spotlight, I searched for Robert. When I finally found him, what I found were deeply loving eyes and a smile. He stood up and asked for strong men in the audience to lift the piano back up. He said loudly “It’s fine…go ahead and play.” That was his lifelong message to each of his students; don’t ever let anything stop you…fearlessly use your gift and do what you are called to do. Don’t stop. Don’t ever give up…ever.

Robert’s dream was to be an Italian Opera star. Instead he came to a small Minnesota town, Lake City, raised a fine family and turned the community upside down introducing rebellious young people involved in alcohol and drugs to pursue meaning through the language of great music and great love. He used Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, The Beatles and Leonard Bernstein’s difficult masterpiece The Mass.

We now know that music encourages strong left and right hemisphere crossover which is the magic in high functioning brains. With Robert that magic was exceptionally pronounced because he added love, acceptance and hope to young people struggling with romance, deceased parents, depression, drugs, and school. He said, “I chose to teach music in high school because the young minds there are still pliable.” His students over the years became doctors, teachers, nurses, lawyers, professors, scientists, pastors, Wall Street analysts, philosophers, business leaders, musicians, and politicians.

Several weeks before he unexpectedly passed, I sent him my Sony Masterworks soundtrack Max and Me. Not one to give unmerited praise, I braced myself. He approved. Relieved, I timidly told him I was dedicating it to him. He responded, “What does that mean?” Well maybe not much really…only that his spirit and artistry live in this music, and that I desire to honor this generous teacher because he made all the difference. Like many, Robert was there early when there was not much to believe in.

“I have no mentor, I’m my own man” said a famous composer recently. I’m not sure that is possible because every life influences every life around them; especially teachers. Our public school teachers and private school teachers are on the front lines helping bring out the best in future generations. They are the ones helping the next generation in their most formative years become all they possibly can be. Maybe there is an email, letter, phone call, post, tweet or text that you might send this teacher appreciation week?

MAX 420Ruberto and Ritzenthaler - Version 3Robert Ruberto : Megan McKenzieRubertoMark Bob Ruberto_2


  1. I Am (w/ Joshua Bell on violin) 1:13
  2. Two Crowns Vision 1:22
  3. Head in the Clouds Over You 2:16
  4. You Could be Anything 2:44
  5. In the Trenches 2:29
  6. If You Are So Intelligent Why Don’t You Believe? 5:22
  7. Ask and it Will Be Given to You 1:25
  8. When I’m Saying Me I Mean You   :51
  9. Dare To Dream Bigger  1:51
  10. A Mother’s Prayer (w/ Joshua Bell on violin) 3:10
  11. Dapper Duds   1:50
  12. Sunset Hug 1:49
  13. I’m Sorry 3:02
  14. Nazi Brutality 3:17
  15. Prayer For Peace 3:40
  16. Auschwitz Cries  2:56
  17. Only Love is Creative 2:37
  18. I Love You (w/ Joshua Bell on violin) 4:00
  19. Triumph Over Fear   3:20
  20. He Was Always With Me 1:50
  21. I Believe in You 4:12
  22. Heaven’s Welcome 2:28


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