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