Posts Tagged ‘Obituary’

Vangelis, 1943-2022

May 19, 2022 Leave a comment

Composer Vangelis died on May 19, 2022, in hospital in Paris, where he was being treated for COVID-19. He was 79.

Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou was born in Agria, Greece, in March 1943, and in his youth was a self-taught musician, experimenting by combining pianos with traditional Greek folk music, jazz, and rock. After some early success in Greek pop music circles he co-founded the group Aphrodite’s Child with vocalist Demis Roussos, among others, and together they would enjoy great success in Europe, especially the single “Rain and Tears” in 1968. During this period Vangelis also dabbled in film music, writing music for several domestic films, before eventually making his international film music breakthrough in 1970 with the film Sex Power.

Throughout the 1970s Vangelis continued to have success both as a film composer and a recording artist; he scored popular documentary films such as L’Apocalypse des Animaux, La Fête Sauvage, and Opéra Sauvage, while simultaneously enjoying chart success, notably as one half of ‘Jon & Vangelis’ with Jon Anderson of Yes; their singles “I Hear You Now” and “I’ll Find My Way Home” were chart hits in the UK. His music was also notably used to score the groundbreaking 1980 PBS documentary series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage presented by Carl Sagan, which brought his music to American audiences for the first time. During this period Vangelis developed the iconic sound that would typify much of his career, combining lush and powerful orchestral forces with sometimes very experimental electronica. Read more…

Categories: News Tags: ,

Ennio Morricone, 1928-2020

July 6, 2020 1 comment

Composer Ennio Morricone died on July 6, 2020, in hospital in Rome, Italy, after suffering complications following a fall at his home, in which he broke his leg. He was 91.

Ennio Morricone was born in Rome, Italy, in November 1928. He studied at the Conservatory of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia, where he specialized in trumpet performance and composition. During the 1950s Morricone orchestrated and arranged pop songs for the RCA record label, including some for artists such as Paul Anka, Chet Baker and Mina. While working for RCA Morricone also wrote theater music and classical pieces, eventually going on to form Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanzsa, an avant-garde musical improvisation group considered to be one of the first experimental composers collectives.

Morricone began ghostwriting for composers such as Armando Trovajoli and Mario Nascimbene in the late 1950s, before making his credited film debut in 1961 for director Luciano Salce’s Il Federale (The Fascist). He worked almost exclusively in Italian cinema in the 1960s, but started to gain some international prominence for his work with director Sergio Leone, a former classmate, whose ‘spaghetti westerns’ starring a young American actor named Clint Eastwood became unexpected hits. A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Good the Bad and the Ugly (1966) and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), as well as the Burt Reynolds vehicle Navajo Joe (1966), introduced the world to his idiosyncratic personal style, mixing a traditional orchestra with unusual percussion effects, gruff chanting voices, unusual whistles courtesy of Alessandro Alessandroni, and the soaring beauty of the voice of his friend, soprano Edda dell’Orso. These scores became hugely influential and massively popular, quickly cementing his reputation as one of Europe’s leading film composers. Read more…

Categories: News Tags: ,

Jóhann Jóhannsson, 1969-2018

February 11, 2018 Leave a comment

Composer Jóhann Jóhannsson died on February 9, 2018, at his home in Berlin, Germany. The cause of death is still unknown. He was 48 years old.

Jóhann Jóhannsson was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, in September 1969. After graduating from university he started his musical career in the mid-1990s as a guitarist playing in various Icelandic indie rock bands, before founding Kitchen Motors, an art organization that encouraged musical collaborations between artists from numerous different genres. He began scoring television projects and films in his native Iceland in 1999, beginning with the TV series Corpus Camera and the theatrical feature The Icelandic Dream [Íslenski Draumurinn] for director Robert Ingi Douglas, and went on to write several acclaimed scores for Icelandic directors over the next several years.

Jóhannsson scored his first English-language film, Personal Effects for director David Hollander, in 2009, first came to international prominence in 2013 when he was asked to score the dark thriller Prisoners starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal by director Denis Villeneuve. He followed this with the score for the Steven Hawking bio-pic The Theory of Everything in 2014, for which he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score, a BAFTA Award for Best Film Music, and a Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media. Read more…

Categories: News Tags: ,

James Horner, 1953-2015

June 22, 2015 1 comment

James HornerComposer James Horner has been killed in a plane crash. Horner died when the single engine S312 Tucano plane he was piloting crashed in the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Barbara, California. He was 61 years old.

James Roy Horner was born in Los Angeles in August 1953, the son of Harry Horner, an Oscar-nominated Hollywood production designer and occasional film director who emigrated from Austria. He attended high school in California and Arizona, but spent most of his formative years living in London, where he attended the Royal College of Music, and later completed his PhD at UCLA in Los Angeles. After scoring several short film projects for the American Film Institute in the late 1970s, and spending several years teaching, Horner joined the staff at Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, scoring several low-budget genre films, including the popular Battle Beyond the Stars (1980), and working with soon-to-be Hollywood bigwigs such as director James Cameron and producer Gale Ann Hurd.

Horner launched into the big time in 1982 with his score for the critically acclaimed and commercially popular science fiction sequel Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and from that point on Horner quickly rose to become one of the most in-demand composers in Hollywood. In the 1980s and 90s Horner became known for his grand, large-scale, emotional orchestral works; he scored a succession of box office hit movies including 48 HRS. (1982), Honey I Shrunk the Kids (1989), The Pelican Brief (1993), Clear and Present Danger (1994), Apollo 13 (1995) and Ransom (1996), and wrote enormously popular scores for films such as Krull (1983), Cocoon (1985), Willow (1988), Field of Dreams (1989), Glory (1989), Legends of the Fall (1994) and Braveheart (1995), culminating in the massive Titanic in 1997, which remains one of the biggest-selling orchestral score albums of all time. Following the turn of the millennium Horner’s career continued apace, with scores for further box office successes such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), The Perfect Storm (2000), A Beautiful Mind (2001), Avatar (2009) and The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) amongst his efforts. Read more…

Categories: News Tags: ,

Wojciech Kilar, 1932-2013

December 29, 2013 1 comment

Wojciech KilarComposer Wojciech Kilar died on December 29, 2013 at his home in Katowice, Poland, after a battle with cancer. He was 81.

Kilar was born in Lvov, Ukraine, when it was still part of Poland, in July 1932, but moved to Katowice in Silesia in 1948 with his father, a gynecologist, and his mother, an actress.  Kilar studied at the State Higher School of Music in Katowice under composer and pianist Władysława Markiewiczówna, at the State Higher School of Music in Kraków under composer and pianist Bolesław Woytowicz, and in Paris with  the legendary Nadia Boulanger in the late 1950s. Upon his return to Poland, Kilar and fellow composers Henryk Górecki and Krzysztof Penderecki led an avant-garde music movement in the 1960s, during which time he wrote several acclaimed classical works.

Kilar scored his first film in 1959, and went gone on to write music from some of Poland’s most acclaimed directors, including Krzysztof Kieślowski, Krzysztof Zanussi, Kazimierz Kutz and Andrzej Wajda. He worked on over 100 titles in his home country, including internationally recognized titles such as Bilans Kwartalny (1975), Ziemia Obiecana (1975), Rok Spokojnego Słońca (1984), Życie Za Życie (1991) and Pan Tadeusz (1999), plus several others in France and across other parts of Europe. Read more…

Categories: News Tags: ,

John Barry, 1933-2011

January 30, 2011 Leave a comment

John BarryComposer John Barry died on January 30, 2011, at his home in Oyster Bay, New York, after suffering a heart attack. He was 77.

John Barry Prendergast was born in York, England in November 1933, where his father owned a chain of cinemas. He played the organ at York Minster and, after spending some time as a classical pianist, formed a jazz band, The John Barry Seven in 1957. The Seven had a number of popular instrumental hits in the UK, including a cover of “Walk Don’t Run” and the theme from the TV show Juke Box Jury, “Hit and Miss”, before moving into cinema.

Barry made his film music composing debut in 1960 writing music for the Adam Faith film Beat Girl at the age of 27, before establishing himself as a major force in the British film industry when he wrote the score for the second James Bond film, From Russia With Love, in 1963. Barry wrote music for 10 more Bond films, including Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Diamonds Are Forever, while simultaneously establishing himself as one of the pre-eminent composers in American and British film from the 1960s through to the early 1980s through popular and successful films such as Zulu, Born Free. The Lion in Winter, Midnight Cowboy, Walkabout, King Kong, Robin and Marian, The Black Hole, Somewhere in Time and Out of Africa. Read more…

Categories: News Tags: ,

Basil Poledouris, 1945-2006

November 8, 2006 Leave a comment

Basil PoledourisComposer Basil Poledouris died on November 8, 2006, at his home in Los Angeles, California, after a battle with cancer. He was 61.

Vassilis Konstantinos Poledouris was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in August 1945, to a family of Greek immigrants. A piano player from an early age, Basil moved to Los Angeles in 1964 to study filmmaking and music at the University of Southern California, where he was a contemporary of soon-to-be-directors George Lucas, John Milius and Randal Kleiser, who would go on to be lifelong friends and collaborators. Poledouris dabbled in acting – he had a non-speaking role as a crewmember on the original series of Star Trek – but concentrated on music following his graduation with a BA in film studies.

Poledouris composed music for over 100 educational films before getting his break in feature films, which came in 1978 following the release of the popular cult surfing movie Big Wednesday (directed by Kleiser), and which he followed by writing music for hit teen romance The Blue Lagoon in 1980, and the action fantasy epic Conan the Barbarian in 1982. The film launched the career of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and is considered one of the finest fantasy scores ever written. Read more…

Categories: News Tags: ,

Jerry Goldsmith, 1929-2004

July 21, 2004 Leave a comment

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. Read more…

Categories: News Tags: ,

Michael Kamen, 1948-2003

November 18, 2003 Leave a comment

Michael KamenComposer Michael Kamen died on November 18, 2003 in London, England, after suffering a heart attack. He was 55.

Michael Arnold Kamen was born in New York in April 1948, where he attended The High School of Music and Art and the Juilliard School, where he specialized in composition and oboe performance. After being a part of the New York Rock & Roll Ensemble with fellow composer Mark Snow as a youth, Kamen moved to England in the 1970s and found work as ballet composer and as an arranger for pop and rock bands, notably for artists such as Kate Bush, David Bowie and Pink Floyd, for whom he arranged the album The Wall in 1979.

Having already dabbled in film music during the late 1970s, Kamen began embracing cinema fully in the early 1980s, writing the music for acclaimed films such as The Dead Zone and Brazil, and the TV mini-series Edge of Darkness, before cracking the Hollywood big-time with a trio of massively successful action scores between 1986 and 1989 – Highlander, Lethal Weapon and Die Hard. Read more…

Categories: News Tags: ,