Star Trek theme composer dies after 40 years at the top

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The Independent US

Jerry Goldsmith, one of Hollywood's most prolific composers who scored everything from action-adventure movies to television series including Star Trek and The Waltons , has died at the age of 75.

Jerry Goldsmith, one of Hollywood's most prolific composers who scored everything from action-adventure movies to television series including Star Trek and The Waltons , has died at the age of 75.

Known for his ability to turn his hand to anything, from melodious chamber pieces to large, jarring, dissonant scores for horror films, he managed an extraordinary output over 40 years - consistently elevating mediocre material and enhancing the effectiveness of the handful of great films he worked on.

Working right to the end - he had two commissions he never got a chance to complete - Goldsmith succumbed to cancer and died at his home in Beverly Hills on Wednesday night.

"He could write anything. He did westerns, comedies," his personal assistant, Lois Carruth, said. "He preferred writing for more character-driven, quiet films but somehow they kept coming back to him for the action films."

Goldsmith was a key player in the rapidly changing language and experimental reach of Hollywood films in the late 1960s and early 1970s, taking the sorts of risks in his scores as the directors of the American New Wave were taking in their films.

For his first major score, the original Planet of the Apes (1968), he branched out into polyphony and dissonance in a way unheard of in the Hollywood mainstream. The eerie "blare" effects in that film were achieved by horn players blowing into their instruments with the mouthpiece removed; he also created new sounds with unconventional instruments such as metal mixing bowls.

In 1976, Goldsmith won his only Oscar from 18 nominations for The Omen , memorable chiefly for the score's use of Latin chants and other ideas borrowed from sacred music to suggest not the majesty of God, but its opposite - the insidious power of the Devil.

Quietly unsettling audiences was one of his trademarks, put to outstanding use in Hollywood's most memorable outings into Los Angeles film noir of the past 30 years - Chinatown (1974) and LA Confidential (1997).

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