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Makalee Mills


Music 1040

Hans Zimmer

Hans Zimmer was born in Frankfurt am Main, West Germany on September 12th, 1957. In 2013

Zimmer interviewed with Mashable and stated that his mother was so musical she was essentially a

musician and his father was an inventor and engineer so growing up Zimmer would make alterations to

the family piano; one such change was the addition of a chainsaw. These alterations made his mom

“gasp in horror” but his dad thought they were fantastic. Growing up he disliked the formalities of piano

lessons, so he took lessons for two weeks before he quit. Zimmer’s father died when he was still very

young, and he use music as a way to cope and to escape into. But the lack of formal training didn’t

hinder his ability to continue to improve his piano playing ability, as he is self-taught.

During the 1970’s and early 1980’s Zimmer worked with five different bands including: Krakatoa,

the Buggles, Krisma, Helden, and The Damned. Starting in the 1980’s he began working with Stanley

Myers, who wrote over 60 pieces of music for film and tv shows including classic Doctor Who, House of

Whipcord, Wish You Were Here, and many others. During the time that they collaborated they founded

the Lillie Yard recording studio and liked to combine Myers more traditional sounding with Zimmer’s

more electronic sounds. Some of the films they worked on together are Moonlighting, Insignificance,

and My Beautiful Laundrette. In 1987 Zimmer collaborated with Sandy McClelland and they wrote the

theme song for the British game show Going For Gold. Two of the soundtracks that really started to set

Zimmer apart were the scores for Rain Man and Driving Miss Daisy.
Since the start of Zimmer’s career, he has composed a total of 160 scores for films, short films,

and tv shows. Some of the most popular ones are The Lion King, The Prince of Egypt, Gladiator, the first

three Pirates of the Caribbean, The Dark Knight, Inception, 12 Years a Slave, Interstellar, and Dunkirk.

Zimmer has been nominated for sixty-seven times and has won a total of twenty-seven awards including

an Academy Award for The Lion King, two Golden Globes for The Lion King and Gladiator, and four

Grammy’s for The Lion King, The Lion King’s “Circle of Life”, Crimson Tide and The Dark Knight. The

scores that he has won the most awards are from the films The Lion King, Gladiator, Inception, and


The first musical example I chose is “Chevaliers de Sangreal” from the film The Da Vinci Code,

which is one of my favorites. This film was released in 2006. This soundtrack included the violinist

Thomas Bowes, the King’s Consort Chior, and the soprano opera singer Hila Plitmann. The soundtrack

has a lot of religious elements that go hand and hand with the content of the film. The film’s director,

Ron Howard, stated that “Zimmer has given us extraordinarily memorable music [that can] carry you on

your own private journey”. The soundtrack was nominated for a Golden Globe in 2007. The second song

I picked is “One Day” from the 2007 film Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. The album was so

well received that 35,000 copies were sold within the first week after it’s release. The third song I picked

was “Time” for the 2010 film Inception. This soundtrack was nominated for an Academy Award, a

Golden Globe, a Grammy, and a BAFTA. Zimmer drew inspiration from Enniio Morricone for the guitar

pieces. The film’s director and producer, Christopher Nolan, was able to get Johnny Marr, the former

guitarist of the band The Smiths, to play these pieces on a 12-string guitar.

Each of these songs occur at the end of the films. They are similar to each other enough that if

you are familiar with Zimmer’s work you can hear the similarities with aspects of his other works. I

believe are good examples of how well Zimmer is able to create new pieces that fit so well with the
elements of the films they were composed for but still have elements of his roots and background. I

believe that Hans Zimmer will only continue to go up from here.