The Simpsons’ longtime music editor Chris Ledesma has died age 64, confirmed by the Los Angeles Times Tuesday following a post-credit tribute to his memory on the newest episode of the show this Sunday. Ledesma died December 16 in Los Angeles at age 64; a cause of death has not been revealed.
Ledesma “poured his heart and soul into crafting the musical language of The Simpsons,” showrunner and executive producer Matt Selman said in a statement shared with the Times. “Chris imbued every episode of the show over 33 seasons with his deep knowledge and even deeper passion for music which has become a part of so many people’s lives … Chris will always be a vital member of the The Simpsons family, and his loss is felt deeply by the many who loved him.”
Ledesma served as music editor on the record-breaking, award-winning FOX series from its launch on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1989, contributing to more than 700 episodes up until he stepped down from the conductor’s podium in May of 2022. Jake Schaefer, who took over the post, shared on Twitter: “I’m grateful for the time I got to spend with him this year. He was a great mentor and a genuine person.”
Chris Ledesma’s passion for music and for @TheSimpsons was an inspiration. I’m grateful for the time I got to spend with him this year. He was a great mentor and a genuine person. My heart goes out to his family.
Rest In Peace Chris 💛 pic.twitter.com/2KRPAlAQ6U
— Jake Schaefer (@jschaefermusic) January 2, 2023
The memorial card features a Simpson-style caricature of Ledesma with a conductor’s baton sitting on the famous family couch between Homer and Marge, as Lisa, Maggie and Bart play instruments, and reads “In loving memory of Chris Ledesma.” The tribute has been shared by many of Ledesma’s Simpsons colleagues on Twitter — including Schaefer, writer/co-executive producer Carolyn Omine and producer/director David Silverman — among many memories and admirations about the accomplished maestro.
Omine wrote, “Chris Ledesma was a sweet man who loved his job and was really, really good at it. We miss him.” Silverman had similar thoughts on his late collaborator, tweeting, “We will all miss Chris Ledesma so very much. A terrific and wonderful guy who was terrific and wonderful at his job. A solid musician and music editor. Great conductor too. A real loss for all…”
Born January 28, 1958, Ledesma studied orchestra conducting at CalArts and at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music for two years, and started his career as a music editor in the 1970s. In 1984, he got a gig as a Universal Studios tour guide, which got him in the door to observe live orchestra sessions and meet established music editors such as his mentor, Dan Carlin Jr. While the majority of Ledesma’s career was spent working on The Simpsons (he noted in a 2021 tweet that he had been with the show for “literally half [his] life”), he also worked on live-action TV shows including The Nanny and Dark Shadows.
Ledesma chronicled his life among the Springfeldians on his blog, where fans can read about how the self described animation history buff came to be hired onto Tracey Ullman‘s “little cartoon show.” He recalled:
“I was skeptical of turning the little, 30- and 60-second featurettes on Tracey into a full-fledged, half-hour show. All that went out the window as soon as I saw the first two shows. The wit, the audacity, the Simpson family (both their look and their sound) were all utterly unique compared to anything on the air in 1989 and to any animated TV series that had gone before.”
In 2017, reflecting on the show’s unprecedented 30th anniversary, Ledesma shared,
“…As I write this, there are three episodes to complete before season 28 comes to end in May, there are already four episodes in the pipeline in various stages of writing/re-writing/animating/pre-recording music for season 29.
“My plate is full. So is my heart for all the love these characters have received for 30 years and for the opportunity to support my family doing something I love so much. I’ve often said I’m the luckiest music editor in Hollywood – not just because I’ve been employed on one show for 28+ years, but because I get to laugh, listen to great music, interact with our brilliant cast, share ideas with our writers and producers, and be part of television history. Sure, like with any family, we have our down moments and disagreements, but it’s all been so, so worth it.”
Ledesma is survived by his wife, Michelle, two daughters, two sons-in-law and three grandchildren.
— Matt Selman (@mattselman) January 3, 2023
[Source: The Los Angeles Times]