By Colin Walker
German music producer Hans Zimmer has an impressive filmography under his wing, composing many of the most well-known and epic scores of the last few decades. He has composed for a wide variety of films as well from Disney to science fiction. Some of his most iconic include “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “The Dark Knight,” and “Gladiator.” Whether a fun score or dark and brooding, Zimmer’s music is essential to any film he works with.
Hans Zimmer’s love for music has become his lifestyle and his passion. He entered the world of music at a very young age, being taught piano lessons as a child for a short while. He was very unimpressed when he was forced to play classic pieces by Mozart and Beethoven, instead of creating music on his own.
Similarly, music school lacked a sense of creativity and problem solving. Instead of creating new music, music school focused on analyzing past historical musical pieces.
As Zimmer moved into adulthood, he was mentored by famous composer Stanley Myers, who he worked with to create “My Beautiful Laundrette” in 1985. His rise to stardom was not immediate, however. He began as a coffee maker for Myers and filmmaker Nick Roeg. There he witnessed two brilliant people working at their best to produce what would eventually become a brilliant and unique musical score.
He truly began his career as a sound designer and synthesized programmer, which helped him to develop his own personal style using unique sounds and instruments.
Zimmer has been nominated countless times for many musical achievements. He has won two Oscars, four Grammys, and many other awards. His first Academy Award was for Best Original Score for Disney’s “The Lion King” in 1985.
Originally, Zimmer was hesitant to accept the job to write the score for “The Lion King.” He did not want to work on a simple child’s story about princesses.
“I didn’t want to do Lion King,” he said in an interview with Classic FM. “I did ‘The Lion King’ because my daughter Zoe was six years old at the time. And like all good fathers, I wanted to show off and I wanted to take her to a premiere. I thought, ‘I can’t take her to a Ridley Scott bloodbath’, so I thought a cartoon would be a good thing. So I took the movie, with Zoë as my reason.”
To Zimmer’s surprise, it was the exact opposite of what he thought. The story was about a child losing his father, and having to grow up around people different from him. This hit Zimmer very close to home, for his dad passed away when he was six, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Being German, his family told him to be strong and suppress his emotions of his fathers passing. Instead, he shows his emotions through his music, rather than using speech.
Zimmer believes that music is much more than just sound. It can express feelings of sorrow, happiness, thrill, and much more than speech ever could achieve.
One of the things that makes him such a unique composer stems from his early start creating synthesized sounds. In “Dune,” for instance, Zimmer created unique instrument sounds not found in any other movie whether this was a cello twisted to sound like a Tibetan horn or entirely electronic drums, he makes sure that what he makes plays with the constructs of music.
“If you set something in the future, you wanted that foreign-ness,” Zimmer said in an interview with the Wrap about “Dune.” “Why would you have a bunch of strings? Why would you rely on the Western vocabulary?”
The music he creates works hand and hand with films, being equally as important as the visuals. It allows viewers to feel the emotions of characters without them ever speaking a word.