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Basil Poledouris (1945-2006) - Conan and Robocop

Basil Poledouris - Robocop soundtrack CD cover Although of Greek descent, Basil Poledouris (originally Basilis Konstantine Poledouris) was born and brought up in the US. Nevertheless he seems to have picked up some musical qualities from his Greek heritage including powerful melodies with a strong rhythmic drive. He started learning the piano as a boy of age 9 and joined a folk group while at High School. He later studied both film and music at the University of Southern California, the latter under David Raksin. It was also as a student that he met aspiring film maker John Milius, and it was with Milius that Poledouris achieved his initial breaks into the film music business with "Big Wednesday" and "Conan the Barbarian". Conan The Barbarian is more than 2 hours long with very little dialogue, and it is the music which brings the film to life. Poledouris' orchestra includes 24 French horns, and lots of timpani leading a large percussion section.

Basil Poledouris - Quigley Down Under (expanded edition) soundtrack CD cover The music of Basil Poledouris is traditional in approach, and Poledouris has mentioned Miklos Rozsa as one of his influences. Following on from "Conan The Barbarian" which got him widely noticed, he found a niche within the worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy, where at times he partnered with director Paul Verhoven. The music for example gets into the tongue in cheek spirit of Robocop when the robotic hero spins his gun before holstering it like a gunfighter from the Wild West. He also created authentic Western music for the TV mini-series "Lonesome Dove". In addition to his fantasy output, Poledouris has produced successful scores for other more conventional movies too, such as The Hunt for Red October, where the bold repeated rhythms and dramatic chord progressions give the movie a strong suggestion of Russian character traits and music traditions. He composed a large-scale choral piece called "The Tradition of the Games" for the Opening of the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, and has won critical acclaim for his music to the television series "Lonesome Dove".

Basil Poledouris - Conan the Barbarian (the complete score) soundtrack double-CD cover Basil Poledouris lived in California and often relaxed there sailing his yacht or surfing with family and friends, until sadly he lost his battle with cancer on 8th November 2006. Zoe Poledouris, one of the Basil's daughters, has also contributed to his film scores. A theme used in "Conan the Barbarian" is based on something she played on the recorder, and she also wrote a song for "Starship Troopers". Basil's other daughter (Alexis, the youngest) has contributed an introduction to Tadlow's recent definitive version of "Conan the Barbarian". This World Premiere Recording of the Complete Score was performed by Nic Raine conducting The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus. This comes on 2 CDs and includes all the music in the film, with a wealth of previously unrecorded tracks, additional bonus material and a suite from "Conan the Destroyer". The new release can be found at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

Just a few months before he died, Basil Poledouris conducted his "Conan The Symphony" at Ubeda in Spain. The concert is available on youtube in 5 parts - use the following youtube playlist to play all 5 parts in sequence.

Basil Poledouris Trivia: Much earlier in his career the composer appeared as an extra in 3 episodes of the original Star Trek TV series! On the Memory Alpha Wiki, there are images of him as a Klingon and wearing a Red Uniform...

Film music by Basil Poledouris:

    Basil Poledouris - The Hunt for Red October soundtrack CD cover
  • Big Wednesday - with director John Marius
  • The Blue Lagoon
  • Return to the Blue Lagoon
  • Conan The Barbarian - also for John Marius, this early soundtrack shows a remarkable talent for portraying archetypal characters and employs 24 French horns and a large percussion section
  • The House of God
  • Conan the Destroyer - the inevitable sequel
  • Red Dawn
  • Protocol
  • Flesh+Blood
  • Iron Eagle
  • Robocop and Robocop 3 - more top-notch scores! Leonard Roseman did number 2 in the series
  • Basil Poledouris - Starship Troopers soundtrack CD cover
  • No Man's Land
  • Cherry 2000
  • Spellbinder
  • Wind - film drama about sailing for the Americas Cup
  • Hot Shots - Part Deux
  • Farewell to the King
  • Wired
  • The Hunt for Red October - very dramatic and Russian sounding with full orchestra and choir
  • Quigley Down Under - a Western set in Australia with some wonderful western-style music though different in character to "Lonesome Dove", make sure you get the full version called "The Complete Original Soundtrack" or "Expanded Edition"
  • White Fang - with additional music by Hans Zimmer
  • Flight of the Intruder
  • Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man
  • On Deadly Ground - emotionally the music has a similar impact to Jerry Goldsmith's Rambo for this typically over the top Steven Seagal film set in Alaska, the percussion in Poledouris' music seems to suggest the machinery of the oil industry there and there is some native Inuit music
  • Basil Poledouris - Free Willy soundtrack CD cover
  • The Jungle Book (1994) - excellent natural-sounding music for this live-action adaptation
  • Lassie (1994) - the album is subtitled "Best Friends are Forever"
  • Free Willy
  • Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home
  • Serial Mom
  • It's My Party
  • Celtic Pride
  • The War at Home
  • Under Seige 2: Dark Territory
  • Breakdown
  • Basil Poledouris - For Love of the Game soundtrack CD cover
  • Switchback
  • Starship Troopers - similarities to the Robocop tongue-in-cheek style
  • Les Mis√©rables- a non-musical adaptation, with Poledouris' incidental music playing a dramatic and sensitive role in the film
  • Cecil B. Demented
  • Kimberly
  • For Love of the Game
  • Mickey Blue Eyes
  • Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles
  • The Touch
  • Edison
  • Robocop (2014) - credited with the original Robocop theme in the 2014 version scored by Pedro Bromfman

TV themes by Basil Poledouris:

For television Poledouris has scored some long mini-series, and dabbled in a few other classic series.

    Basil Poledouris - Lonesome Dove soundtrack CD cover
  • Congratulations, It's a Boy! - one of several TV movies
  • A Whale for the Killing
  • Fire on the Mountain
  • Amazons
  • Single Bars, Single Women
  • The Twilight Zone - an episode of this
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents - and at least one episode of this
  • Amerika - long and controversial mini-series
  • Misfits of Science - theme for the series
  • Lonesome Dove - winning an Emmy award
  • Return to Lonesome Dove - sequel to the mini-series
  • If These Walls Could Talk 2 - TV movie
  • The Legend of Butch & Sundance

Basil Poledouris - Recommendations:

There are many good soundtrack CDs of music by Basil Poledouris, and we recommend the following:

For web-sites dedicated to Poledouris, there is The Official Basil Poledouris site which has soundclips in MP3 format and photographs of the composer.

Basil Poledouris - Memorabilia:

Here is a CD cover signed by Basil Poledouris. Our thanks to Petr Kocanda for permission to use his collection of autographed CDs. Click the thumbnail below to see the image full size in a separate window.

Basil Poledouris: Cherry 2000 - signed CD