Alan Menken

Alan Menken

(born New York City 20 July 1949)

An award winning composer and songwriter, Alan Menken has won 11 Grammy Awards, 8 Academy Awards, 1 Tony Award and 1 Emmy Award. Whilst a household name primarily for his work on Disney films, Menken has composed for 17 stage productions, including the long running musical based on the Charles Dickens novella A Christmas Carol, performed yearly at Madison Square Garden between 1994 and 2003.

Menken's Life

Born to a ‘boogie-woogie’ piano-playing dentist father and an actress, dancer and playwright mother, Alan Irwin Menken took to music and composition at an early age, winning the New York Federation of Music Clubs Junior Composers Contest at age 9. Whilst he grew tired of musicology, his passion for composition was ignited by a workshop with Broadway composer Lehman Engel.

After graduating from New York University, Menken became a freelance composer, writing music for club acts, jingles, and songs for Sesame Steet, amongst other work. He became a household name when his work for Disney became incredibly popular,  working on the score for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Hercules, forming the backbone of Disney’s ‘Renaissance’ period.

Notable Operas

Whilst not a writer of operas, Menken is a prolific writer of musicals, including:

  • Little Shop of Horrors (Off-Broadway, 1982; West End, 1983; Broadway, 2003)
  • Beauty and the Beast (Broadway, 1994; West End, 1997)
  • Der Glöckner von Notre Dame (Berlin, 1999)
  • Sister Act (West End, 2009; Broadway, 2011)
  • Newsies (Paper Mill Playhouse, 2011; Broadway, 2012)