Thursday, May 29, 2008

Alexander Courage - composer, Star Trek theme

Alexander Courage, composer of the Star Trek theme (for the original and best series) died on May 15. I've only just heard.

From the copyright free Wikipedia
Alexander Courage (December 10, 1919 – May 15, 2008) was a 20th century American orchestrator, arranger and composer of music, primarily for television and motion pictures.

Courage, most famous to SCI FI fans for his work on Star Trek, became alienated from Star Trek's creator Gene Roddenberry over the latter's demand for half his music royalties. (Gene Roddenberry wrote words for Courage's Star Trek theme, and even though those words were never sung - on the show or anywhere, Roddenberry was still able to claim acknowledgement as the co-writer, and was paid half of the royalties from the song.)

During World War II, Courage began composing for radio. His credits in this medium include Broadway Is My Beat, Hollywood Soundstage, and Romance.

Motion picture work
Courage began as an orchestrator/arranger at MGM studios, which included work in such films as Show Boat ("Life Upon the Wicked Stage" number), The Band Wagon ("I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan") and Gigi (the can-can for the entrance of patrons at Maxim's), and the barn-raising dance from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

He frequently served as orchestrator for Andre Previn (My Fair Lady, the "The Circus is a Wacky World" and "You're Gonna Hear from Me" production numbers for Inside Daisy Clover), Adolph Deutsch (Funny Face, Some Like it Hot), John Williams (Superman, The Poseidon Adventure, Jurassic Park, and the Academy Award-nominated musical films Tom Sawyer, and Fiddler on the Roof), and Jerry Goldsmith (The Mummy, Mulan, Rudy, et al.).

Apart from his work as a highly respected orchestrator, Courage also contributed original dramatic scores to films, including two important 1950s westerns, Arthur Penn's Left Handed Gun and Andre de Toth's Day of the Outlaw. He continued writing music for films throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, including the score for Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (which incorporated 3 new musical themes by John Williams, in addition to Courage's adapted and original cues for the film). Courage's score for Superman IV: The Quest for Peace was finally released in early 2008 by Film Music Monthly as part of their boxset, Superman - The Music.

Television work
He is probably best known for writing the theme music to the original Star Trek television series, but also worked as composer on such shows as Lost in Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Judd, for the Defense, and Daniel Boone.

Jerry Goldsmith and Courage teamed on the long-running TV show The Waltons, in which Goldsmith composed the theme and Courage scored the Aaron Copland-influenced incidental music.

Courage had been in declining health before he died on May 15, 2008 at the Sunrise assisted-living facility in Pacific Palisades, California

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