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Top Film and Music Composers in Movie History

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Memorable themes from ‘Jaws’, ‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’, ‘Taxi Driver’ and ‘The Omen’ have  defined the films in which they appear, taking them beyond the sum of their parts. So, who are these  often overlooked masters of movie success? 

Jerry Goldsmith 

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Born in 1929, Jerry Goldsmith’s first job, working in the music department at the American CBS channel,  led to his scoring some of the best known television themes of the time such as ‘Dr. Kildare’, ‘The Man  From U.N.C.L.E’ and ‘The Waltons’. During the mid-1960s, Goldsmith became a contract composer for  20th Century Fox and went on to score films such as ‘Planet Of The Apes’, ‘Chinatown’, ‘Alien’, ‘Basic  Instinct’, ‘The Omen’, ‘The Swarm’ and many others. He died in 2008. 

John Williams 

Probably the most famous film composer in the world, John William’s work might not be to everyone’s  taste; highly commercial and prolific, he has scored dozens of the big budget blockbusters, including  ‘E.T.’, ‘Star Wars’, ‘Jaws’, ‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’ and several of the ‘Harry Potter’ series. 

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Elmer Bernstein 

Respected for choosing projects in a wide variety of genres, Bernstein worked on films as diverse as ‘My  Left Foot’ about disabled writer Christy Brown and juvenile comedy ‘National Lampoon’s Animal House’  He won many Academy Award’s, including one for the controversial ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, about a  middleclass white lawyer defending a poor black man for the rape of a white woman in America’s deep  south. His score for the Frank Sinatra picture, ‘The Man With The Golden Arm’ created much demand  for his work as a composer of jazz scores, leading to work on ‘The Carpetbaggers’, The Sweet Smell of  Success’ and ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ among many others. 

Bernard Herrman 

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Best known for his work on the many films of Alfred Hitchcock, such as ‘Psycho’, ‘Vertigo’ and ‘North By  Northwest’, Herrman was probably most admired for his ability to write high tension cues, that  communicated both subtle and dramatic changes in atmosphere. Born in 1911 in New York, Herrman’s  first score was for ‘Citizen Caine’ (1941), followed by ‘Jane Eyre’, ‘Hangover Square’, ‘The Ghost and Mrs  Muir’ and many more. He died in 1975, having just completed work on Martin Scorsese’s ‘Taxi Driver’. 

Ennio Morricone 

Though Ennio Morricone has worked widely as a film composer, he is best known for his work for  director Sergio Leone on westerns ‘A Fistful Of Dollars’ (1964), ‘A Few Dollars More’ (1965), ‘The Good,  The Bad And The Ugly’ (1966). ‘Once Upon A Time In The West’ (1968) and ‘A Fistful Of Dynamite’  (1971). With over 400 films under his belt, Morricone also scored ‘The Untouchables’, ‘Cinema  Paradiso’, ‘Battle Of Algiers’ and ‘Once Upon A Time In America’. 

Alex North

With 15 Oscar Nominations and a Lifetime Achievement Oscar for his work in film (the first ever given to  a composer), Alex North became best known for his score to ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ (1951), which  was the first movie to integrate jazz into the drama onscreen. His later work on big budget ‘events’,  ‘Spartacus’ (1960) and ‘Cleopatra’ (1963) cemented his reputation as one of the leading composers for  film. 

Whether working with a small quartet or a one hundred piece orchestra, the film composer moulds his  sound to make the movie; if the score also stands-up on its own on various platforms like discos, pubs  and Ghanaian online casinos, then its impact can be far greater and far more memorable; the men  above have managed to achieve both. 

Composers of Star Trek Music 

Ever since Gene Roddenberry’s famous science fiction saga debuted in 1966, audiences have been  captivated by the Enterprise’s famous quest to ‘boldly go where no man has gone before.’ And through  the decades, those audiences have had some of the most noble, timeless music ever composed  accompanying them through both TV episodes and the feature films, inspiring and transporting them to  hundreds of vast new worlds. Here’s a look at some of the major composers responsible for these  heroic, sonic portraits of human courage. 

Alexander Courage 

Alexander Courage was a TV composer and orchestrator-in-residence for MGM Studios for much of his  career, but perhaps more than anything else, he is famous for composing the 8-note Star Trek fanfare  and TV show theme. In this respect, his musical contribution to the franchise has been greater than any  other composer, for the theme has also been incorporated in nearly every feature film of the franchise,  and has become the iconic, signature tune of Star Trek as a whole. 

Jerry Goldsmith 

Jerry Goldsmith was one of Hollywood’s most prolific and admired composers, and wrote such famous  scores as The Twighlight Zone, Planet of the Apes, Alien, The Omen, Rambo, and Poltergeist, but the  1979 Oscar™-nominated score to Star Trek: The Motion Picture is widely regarded as one of his greatest  scores. 

In addition to a lovely theme for the character Ilia, a graceful theme for the Enterprise itself, and an  innovative, terrifying motif for the awesome ‘Blaster Beam’ instrument, he also composed the stirring  fanfare which later became his theme for the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation. He went on to  become the franchise’s unofficial composer-of-choice, writing scores for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier,  Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, and Star Trek: Nemesis, as well as the theme for the Star  Trek: Voyager television series. 

James Horner 

Before he became famous for scoring James Cameron’s 1997 film Titanic, and before writing his  remarkable scores for Aliens, Willow and The Rocketeer, James Horner was a struggling B-list industry  composer who made his big debut with a swashbuckling, lyrical score for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  His themes for the film, which he later expanded upon for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, are widely 

regarded as some of the most adventurous, expansive themes for the franchise. On the original albums,  they suffer slightly from a less-than-optimal recording quality, but the sheer enthusiasm of the melodies  will easily captivate any listener. 

Dennis McCarthy 

Perhaps the most prolific composer for the more recent Star Trek television shows, Dennis McCarthy has  written volumes of music for Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek:  Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise, as well as the score to the feature film Star Trek: Generations, the  last film to feature members of the crew from the original series. Dennis McCarthy has received two  Emmy awards for his Star Trek material, one for his noble theme to Deep Space Nine and another for  underscore featured in The Next Generation. His overture for Star Trek: Generations is particularly  soaring and triumphant. 

Leonard Rosenman and Cliff Eidelman  

Both of these men only contributed one score each to the franchise, but they are notable entries in the  Star Trek canon. Leonard Rosenman’s lighthearted score for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is an  entertaining, adventurous score and is the only Star Trek score besides Jerry Goldsmith’s original to  receive an Oscar™ nomination for Best Score. 

Young Cliff Eidelman was hired to score Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country after the director was  forced to abandon his expensive plans to licence Gustav Holst’s ‘The Planets’. Eidelman’s score is  significantly darker and more foreboding than most Trek scores and even features some low choir  chants sung in Klingon language! Eidelman’s theme for the Enterprise is one of the most triumphant in  the Star Trek canon, and both score and film are widely regarded as among of the best in the franchise.

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