Michael Kamen (1948-2003) - movies and rock music

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves CD cover Michael Kamen has written for both the big and the small screen, and he has also composed scores for opera and ballet companies. It is then perhaps a little surprising to learn that he has had a number of successful collaborations with well-known rock musicians including Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, Brian Adams, Metallica and Sting! As a musician he learned to play the piano and the oboe, though many of his rock collaborations were with guitarists. With Kamen such collaborations are almost the norm. Queen's music was blended into the score for "Highlander", and music from the Bryan Adams hit song from "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" recurs in the movie itself. Kamen virtually built the entire soundtrack for "Brazil" from variations on the song of the same name.

Michael Kamen - Die Hard 2: Die Harder - soundtrack CD cover Although he has worked on thrillers such as "Die Hard" and the "Lethal Weapon" series, he is also quite at home on the more subtle character driven movies such as "Circle of Friends" and "Don Juan DeMarco". And on "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" he was able to span the divide between character and action movies with a classical score moving between delicate chamber scoring with harpsichord, through to full-scale classical use of the orchestra, tied together with the Baron's main circus-like showman theme. It is understood that Michael originally scored the film version of "Tomb Raider", but his score became a casualty when the movie was re-edited following previews and Graeme Revell was asked to produce an alternative soundtrack.

Michael Kamen : Baron Munchausen - soundtrack CD cover In the years before his untimely death, Kamen was a user of Sibelius software to produce scores - the same product used to develop the sheet music and other formats included elsewhere on the mfiles site. Here is Michael Kamen conducting the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra playing Ennio Morricone's "The Ecstasy of Gold" from A Fistful of Dollars to introduce Metallica in concert playing their version of the track as used on their "S&M" album YouTube. Here is another quite revealing video where Michael Kamen talks about scoring Robin Hood. A number of Michael Kamen's concert works have been recorded and can readily be found on Amazon. As a taster, here is the 3rd movement on youtube from his Saxophone Concerto featuring David Sanborn as the soloist. This and other works are available on the following album from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

Films by Michael Kamen:

    Michael Kamen: Brazil - soundtrack CD cover
  • Pink Floyd The Wall - an early rock collaboration
  • The Dead Zone - Kamen did a sterling job on this soundtrack when David Cronenberg was unable to secure Howard Shore
  • Brazil - with THAT song
  • Highlander - with songs by Queen, and underscore successfully spanning the centuries
  • Mona Lisa
  • Rita, Sue and Bob too
  • Lethal Weapon 1, 2 - note again the electric guitar solo
  • The Adventures of Baron Munchausen - classical sounding, for Terry Gilliam again
  • Die Hard - the original movie which sparked off a new franchise
  • Die Hard 2 "Die Harder" and 3 "With Avengence" - subsequent films in the series have been scored by Marco Beltrami
  • Road House - starring Patrick Swayze
  • Licence to Kill - Kamen's brief foray into the Bond series
  • Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - and co-writing the hit song
  • Michael Kamen : Mr. Holland's Opus - soundtrack CD cover
  • Mr. Holland's Opus - film with a "musical theme" which includes a performance of the "Opus" itself, later turned into a concert work called "An American Symphony"
  • Don Juan DeMarco - nicely Hispanic for the eccentric central character
  • Circle of Friends - by turns delicate and emotional with an Irish blend
  • Someone to Watch Over Me
  • Crusoe
  • The Krays
  • Magic City
  • The Winter Guest
  • Splitting Heirs
  • The Last Boy Scout
  • Hudson Hawk
  • Michael Kamen and Orbital : Event Horizon - soundtrack CD cover
  • Last Action Hero - with bits of Mozart and Vivaldi
  • 101 Dalmations
  • Event Horizon - a collaboration with Orbital
  • What Dreams may Come - apart from a few sections set in hell, this is very romantic with strings, oboe, harp and piano
  • The Iron Giant
  • X-men - the soundtrack CD credits the composer as Michael K-men! John Ottman did the sequel
  • Open Range - a largely romantic score for this western

TV work by Michael Kamen:

  • Nuclear Train - BBC production (with Eric Clapton)
  • Edge of Darkness - also with Clapton, a dark and eerie thriller for TV
  • From the Earth to the Moon - title theme and 3 episodes of this mini series about the Apollo missions, some of the other episodes being scored by Mark Isham, James Newton Howard, Brad Fiedel and Marc Shaiman
  • Free Willy - US animated series
  • Amazing Stories - TV series
  • Tales from the Crypt - TV series
  • Band of Brothers - in places the music for this Mini Series has similarities to Robin Hood with a modern edge, and there is much emotional power overall

Michael Kamen - Recommendations:

Michael Kamen has an impressive web-site at www.michaelkamen.com and, following his involvement in scoring the movie "Mr. Holland's Opus", he was a founder of the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation which supports music education in American schools through the supply and maintenance of musical instruments. You can also find the following products online: