Thornhill, Claude

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Thornhill, Claude Gender: M
Claude Martin Thornhill
born on 10 August 1908 at 02:00 (= 02:00 AM )
Place Terre Haute, Indiana, 39n28, 87w25
Timezone CST h6w (is standard time)
Data source
BC/BR in hand
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Scholfield
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_leocol.18.gif 17°16' s_mo.18.gif s_capcol.18.gif 20°43 Asc.s_cancol.18.gif 10°33'

Claude Thornhill (September 1947)


American pianist, arranger, composer, and bandleader, who composed the jazz and pop standards "Snowfall" and "I Wish I Had You".

As a youth, he was recognized as an extraordinary talent and formed a travelling duo with Danny Polo, a musical prodigy on the clarinet and trumpet from nearby Clinton, Indiana.

Thornhill entered the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music at the age of 16. That same year he and clarinetist Artie Shaw started their careers at the Golden Pheasant in Cleveland, Ohio, with the Austin Wylie Orchestra. Thornhill and Shaw went to New York together in 1931. Thornhill went to the West Coast in the late 1930s with the Bob Hope Radio Show and arranged for Judy Garland in Babes in Arms. In 1935, he played on sessions with Glenn Miller, including "Solo Hop", which was released on Columbia Records. He also played with Paul Whiteman, Benny Goodman, Ray Noble, and Billie Holiday. He arranged "Loch Lomond" and "Annie Laurie" for Maxine Sullivan.'

In 1939 he founded the Claude Thornhill Orchestra. Danny Polo was his lead clarinet player. Although the Thornhill band was a sophisticated dance band, it became known for its superior jazz musicians and for Thornhill's and Gil Evans's arrangements. The band played without vibrato so that the timbres of the instruments could be better appreciated. Thornhill encouraged the musicians to develop cool-sounding tones. The band was popular with both musicians and the public. Miles Davis's "Birth of the Cool" nonet was modelled in part on Thornhill's sound and unconventional instrumentation. The band's most successful records were "Snowfall", "A Sunday Kind of Love", and "Love for Love".

Thornhill was playing at the Paramount Theater in New York for $10,000 a week in 1942 when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. As chief musician, he performed shows across the Pacific Theater with Jackie Cooper as his drummer and Dennis Day as his vocalist.

In 1946, he was discharged from the Navy and reunited his ensemble. Danny Polo, Gerry Mulligan, and Barry Galbraith returned with new members, Red Rodney, Lee Konitz, Joe Shulman, and Bill Barber. In the mid 1950s, Thornhill was briefly Tony Bennett's musical director. He offered his big band library to Gerry Mulligan when Mulligan formed the Concert Jazz Band, but Gerry regretfully declined the gift, since his instrumentation was different. A large portion of his extensive library of music is currently held by Drury University in Springfield, Missouri.

Thornhill died on 1 July 1965 of a heart attack in Caldwell, New Jersey, at the age of 56. In 1984, he was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame.

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • associate relationship with Flory, Med (born 27 August 1926). Notes: Music collaborators
  • associate relationship with Miller, Glenn (born 1 March 1904). Notes: Music collaborators
  • associate relationship with Shaw, Artie (born 23 May 1910). Notes: Music collaborators
  • (has as) boss relationship with Bennett, Tony (born 3 August 1926)


  • Death by Heart Attack 1 July 1965 (Age 56)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : Prize 1984 (Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame)

Source Notes

Sy Scholfield provided birth certificate from Indiana archives.


  • Diagnoses : Major Diseases : Heart disease/attack
  • Personal : Death : Illness/ Disease (Heart attack)
  • Vocation : Entertain/Music : Composer/ Arranger
  • Vocation : Entertain/Music : Conductor (Bandleader)
  • Vocation : Entertain/Music : Group/ Duo (Claude Thornhill Orchestra)
  • Vocation : Entertain/Music : Instrumentalist (Pianist)
  • Notable : Awards : Hall of Fame (Big Band and Jazz)