Alexander Courage (1919-2008) - Star Trek and more

Star Trek original series volume 3 - Gerald Fried and Alexander Courage CD cover Many composers show a keen interest for music at a very young age but usually take a long time before committing themselves entirely to it. In some rare cases, a few composers show a complete disregard for music in their childhood only to experience a powerful burst of inspiration during their late teens or early adulthood. Courage on the other hand was one of those who lived and breathed music throughout his life. Alexander Courage was born in Philadelphia on the 10th of December 1919. As a boy he cultivated a specific affection with the horn and piano. During the Second World War, with the world tearing itself apart with machinegun fire, Courage unflinshingly turned his attention to radio and started composing music. After the war, he moved to Los Angeles and his previous work would lead him to compose music for "Broadway is My Beat", a classic and highly praised radio drama, as well as "Hollywood Soundstage", "The Camay Hour" and "Sam Spade".

Land of the Giants - John Williams and Alexander Courage CD cover Courage's background in radio, then gave him many opportunities in the world of film. He worked for MGM Studios, rubbing shoulders with musicians such as Johnny Green, Andre Previn and John Williams, and secured many assignments as an orchestrator on a string of musicals and other films. He also scored a number of films himself, developing a repertoire of idiosyncratic sounds, but by and large these with very much in the B-list category. It was during this period that Alexander Courage met and became friends with Jerry Goldsmith, and this relationship continued over many projects. Courage orchestrated many of Goldsmith's films, some of which you will see on the list below, and the relationship continued on their work for television particularly on The Waltons and Star Trek. Goldsmith composed the theme for "The Waltons" but Courage scored the majority of the episodes. Courage's most famous composition is the original theme for "Star Trek", and curiously Goldsmith used elements of the theme in his Star Trek film scores, before his film theme became the signature tune for "Star Trek: The Next Generation".

Courage worked on other television series too, including "Lost in Space", "Land of the Giants", "Lassie" and "Falcon Crest", though it is undoubtedly the "Star Trek" theme with which he is most associated. He died on 15th May 2008 in California and will forever be remembered by composers and fans worldwide for his contribution to music across three media: radio, television and film.

Films by Alexander Courage:

On the whole, the films which Courage scored as composer were not A-list movies, but he worked as an orchestrator on many big movies and musicals including: Showboat, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Guys and Dolls, Funny Face, Porgy and Bess, My Fair Lady, The Agony and the Ecstacy, Doctor Dolittle, Hello Dolly, Fiddler on the Roof, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Legend, Sleeping with the Enemy, Basic Instinct, Jurassic Park, The River Wild, First Knight, Powder, Air Force One, Deep Rising, Small Soldiers, The Mummy and Hollow Man to name just a few, and he often served in this capacity for John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith with whose names he also maintains an association on a number of television series.

TV music by Alexander Courage:

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