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?
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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’.
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 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 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.
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.
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.