: (updated 2009-06-01)
Jerry Goldsmith was born on February 10th 1929 in Pasadena California and grew up in Los Angeles. Originally intending to become a concert hall composer, he soon realised that the infrequency of concert hall commissions would never satisfy his hunger to write music. Jerry Goldsmith began studying piano at the age of 6 and by the age of 14 was studying composition, theory and counterpoint with Jacob Gimpel and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. He also became acquainted with legendary composer Miklos Rosza and attended his classes in film composition, at the University of Southern California. It was Rosza's own score to Spellbound and the film's star Ingrid Bergman that had captivated Goldsmith back in 1945 and influenced Goldsmith into pursuing a career as a film composers.
In 1950 Goldsmith was employed as a clerk typist in the music department at CBS. There he was given his first assignments as a composer for live radio shows such as Romance and CBS Radio Workshop and progressing on to live TV shows such as Climax and Playhouse 90. He stayed with CBS until 1960, having already scored the cult sci-fi show The Twilight Zone. Then was hired by Revue Studios to score their Thriller series, which lead on to further TV commissions including the famous Dr Kildare theme and theme and episodes for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Goldsmith scored his first theatrical movie in 1957; the little known western Black Patch.
In 1962 Goldsmith was awarded his first Oscar nomination for his acclaimed score to the poorly received John Huston biopic of Freud. At the same time, he met and became acquainted with the influential film composer Alfred Newman. Newman, recognising Goldsmith's talents, influenced Universal into hiring him to score the acclaimed Kirk Douglas western Lonely Are The Brave in 1963. From there Goldsmith established himself as a contract composer for 20th Century Fox, quickly re-defining the modern film score. Along with his close friend Alex North, Goldsmith established himself as a leading name in American film music, and by the beginning of the 1970's the composer had already written a number of landmarks scores that cemented his position and his reputation. These included A Patch Of Blue, Lilies Of The Field, The Sand Pebbles, The Planet Of The Apes, The Blue Max and Patton.
During the 70's Goldsmith augmented his movie scoring with a plethora of TV assignments and remains one of the few composers to juggle film and TV scoring successfully. This included the critically acclaimed and Emmy winning score to the first TV mini series QBVII as well as the popular theme and early episode scores for the TV series The Waltons. Hungry to work, the early part of the decade proved to be one of the composer's most successful periods with a combination of gritty thrillers and prestigious assignments like The Wind And The Lion, Chinatown, The Wild Rovers and Papillon. The late 70's brought Goldsmith his lone Oscar for the avant-garde and ground breaking score to The Omen. Never had a film score been so critical to the movie's atmosphere and dramatic power.
The decade finished with a series of the composer's most popular crowd pleasing scores, from the military action of The Swarm, a sumptuous English caper score for The Great Train Robbery and the terrifying masterwork Alien. And of course what is generally regarded as Goldsmith's greatest work - Star Trek The Motion Picture. Here Goldsmith was tasked with re-inventing a franchise and creating a brand new theme. Goldsmith remarked that the theme was the toughest he ever wrote and remains a remarkable achievement. At the behest of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry it later became the signature theme for the popular Star Trek spin off The Next Generation. In 1995 Goldsmith would write a new theme for Star Trek Voyager, a further spin-off. Interestingly Goldsmith's association with Star Trek may have started even earlier. In interview Goldsmith revealed he had been approached by Roddenberry back in the sixties to write the original TV series theme, but due to scheduling was unable to do so.
The 80's began with the TV mini series Masada in which the composer scored the first four hours and the rousing main theme. Handing the remaining four hours to friend and fellow composer Morton Stevens. Goldsmith also completed the Omen trilogy with an awe inspiring work to The Final Conflict in which he completely transformed the choral and orchestral style he developed for the first two movies into a score that was as terrifying as it was beautiful.
Goldsmith's abilities at being a musical chameleon served him well throughout his career and just as the decades before brought dramatic changes in style, the 80's also saw further development and transformations. Notably with the robust and action packed First Blood and its exciting sequel scores - Rambo First Blood Part II and the epic third score to Rambo III in which the composer bids a fond farewell to the Rambo character. Then came the animated splendour of The Secret Of Nimh as well as critically acclaimed works to Under Fire, Poltergeist and the orchestral/electronic triumph to the sporting drama Hoosiers. The mid 80's proved to be a mix of comedy and adventure scoring for big budget fare that included a series of assignments for Joe Dante, most notably the box office smash Gremlins, to cult hits Supergirl, Twilight Zone The Movie and a rousing sequel score to Star Trek V. This decade also saw further electronic development that had begun back in the 60's with Freud. In 1985 the composer tackled his first all electronic score to Michael Crichton's minor sci-fi thriller Runaway. And later followed it up with courtroom thriller Criminal Law and an un-used score to Alien Nation. Goldsmith finally fused orchestra with electronics proper in the 90's and remains one of the few silver age composers to spend so much time cultivating the technology without betraying the traditional orchestral world.
In the 90's Goldsmith started the decade with his action opus Total Recall. Goldsmith's mammoth score is nothing short of a symphony and remains the defining moment in action film scoring, and is now regarded as a classic of the genre. He also became friends with the film's acclaimed director, Paul Verhoeven and went on to collaborate on the difficult assignment Basic Instinct. The assignment remains a rare moment in the cut throat business of Hollywood where a director showed total commitment to his composer and worked closely with him to encourage Goldsmith to fashion one of his most memorable scores. The decade also brought another of the composer's finest works, the beautiful score to The Russia House for director Fred Schepisi. Interestingly Goldsmith's Russia House theme had originally been composed for his aborted score for Wall Street and then tried out for another aborted effort Alien Nation. The theme finally found its rightful home though. Goldsmith's other noteworthy assignments during this decade included the critically acclaimed score to the minor true life sporting drama Rudy along with further Star Trek sequels, action epics such as Air Force One and The Mummy, as well as more challenging assignments such as the big screen adaptation of Six Degrees Of Separation (Fred Schepisi) and the critically acclaimed thriller LA Confidential (Curtis Hanson).
Jerry Goldsmith began the new millennium with a further collaboration with Dutch director Paul Verhoeven on the summer 2000 sci-fi thriller Hollow Man where Goldsmith's genuine love and affection for the director shone through with an enormous and complex thriller score. The next two years featured The Last Castle where Goldsmith's moving theme was adopted to remember the victims of September 11th 2001. Followed by the box office hit The Sum Of All Fears featuring an equally moving score. And a second outing with exciting director Lee Tamahori for the Morgan Freeman thriller Along Came A Spider. By this time the composer's health began to take its toll and prevented Goldsmith from working as much as he once did but he finished his work on the Star Trek franchise with Star Trek Nemesis, making this his third collaboration with editor turned director Stuart Baird.
Goldsmith's final scores were for friends. In the case of Timeline directed by The Omen's Richard Donner. Sadly a score that was not used in the finished film due to dramatic changes in the final cut of the movie. Donner tried to secure Goldsmith again to rewrite the score but the composer was unable to do so. Fittingly for his final score he was with Joe Dante, another close friend, for the comedy Looney Tunes Back In Action. Jerry Goldsmith passed away on July 21st 2004 peacefully in his sleep after a long and gallant battle against cancer.