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Jerry Goldsmith, 1929-2004

Jerry GoldsmithComposer Jerry Goldsmith died on July 21, 2004 at his home in Beverly Hills, California, after a battle with cancer. He was 75.

Jerrald King Goldsmith was born in Pasadena, California, in February 1929, and started playing piano at an early age, before later being tutored by pianist Jakob Gimpel and composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. He studied music at both the University of Southern California – where he attended classes given by Miklós Rózsa – and Los Angeles City College, before securing a job as a clerk-typist in the music department of TV network CBS under music director Lud Gluskin. He began writing music as early as 1951, for radio shows and live television (one of his first gigs was the first ever James Bond story, Casino Royale, produced as part of the Climax! series), and quickly became a television mainstay, contributing scores to such series as The Lineup, Black Saddle, Playhouse 90, Perry Mason and The Twilight Zone.

Goldsmith scored his first feature film, the western Black Patch, in 1957 at the age of 28, and spent much of the 1950s and 60s scoring both feature films and television projects: he worked on hit TV shows such as Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, Rawhide, Cain’s Hundred, Dr Kildare, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Loner, Room 222 and The Waltons, while scoring such popular films as Freud (1962), for which he received his first Oscar nomination, The List of Adrian Messenger (1963), Seven Days in May (1964), A Patch of Blue (1965), In Harm’s Way (1965), The Blue Max (1966), The Sand Pebbles (1966), the groundbreaking and avant-garde Planet of the Apes (1968), and numerous revisionist Westerns, which seemed to be his forte for much of the first two decades of his career.

By the turn of the 1970s Goldsmith had already cemented his reputation as one of the most brilliant and innovative composers in Hollywood, capable of writing impressive, appropriate music for any project in any genre that came his way, and he continued this trend throughout the next decade: he redefined the sound of the war movie in the Oscar-nominated Patton in 1970, brought new life to film noir in the Oscar-nominated Chinatown in 1974, changed the way horror movies were scored forever in the Oscar-winning The Omen in 1976, pioneered the early use of electronic music and synthesizers in Logan’s Run in 1976, and explored the reaches of space with two vastly different but influential science fiction scores in 1979: Alien and the Oscar-nominated Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He received further Academy Award nominations for Papillon (1973), The Wind and the Lion (1975) and The Boys from Brazil (1978), and developed significant composer-director relationships with filmmakers such as Robert Wise, Roman Polanski, Ridley Scott and Franklin J. Schaffner.

In the 1980s and 90s, Goldsmith’s reputation had become such that he and John Williams were regarded as the foremost composers of film music in the world, and although he occasionally contributed music to projects that were nominally beneath his talents, he still racked up an impressive array of box office hits, ranging from the Oscar-nominated Poltergeist (1982), Gremlins (1984), Total Recall (1990) and Sleeping With the Enemy (1991) to the Oscar-nominated Basic Instinct (1992), Air Force One (1997), the Oscar-nominated Mulan (1998) and The Mummy (1999), as well as multiple entries in the Rambo and Star Trek franchises. He received additional Academy Award nominations for Under Fire (1983), Hoosiers (1986) and L.A. Confidential (1997), to go with his career tally of five Emmy Awards, nine Golden Globe nominations, four BAFTA nominations, and five Grammy nominations, and added to his list of regular directorial collaborators by striking up recurring partnerships with directors such as Joe Dante and Paul Verhoeven.

In addition to his film and TV works, Goldsmith also composed several concert and performance pieces, including Christus Apollo for the California Chamber Symphony in 1969, the impressionistic Music for Orchestra in 1970, and the energetic Fireworks, a celebration of the city of Los Angeles which had its world premier at the Hollywood Bowl in 1999. Goldsmith also wrote logo music for both Paramount and Universal, and wrote music for the Soarin’ Over California ride, which launched at Disney’s California Adventure theme park in Anaheim, California in 2001. Throughout his career Goldsmith also conducted many concerts of his own music across the world, most notably developing a strong relationship with London Symphony Orchestra.

He leaves a wife, Carol, and five children, Ellen, Carrie, Jennifer, Joel and Aaron.

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