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Also Known As: Hans F Zimmer, Hans Florian Zimmer Died:
Born: September 12, 1957 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Germany Profession: composer, music producer, songwriter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Though he began his career as a keyboardist for several late-1970s New Wave pop groups, Hans Zimmer used his pioneering blend of digital synthesizers and computer technology to become one of the most acclaimed and sought after film composers of his day. Following a brief, but productive partnership with composer Stanley Myers, Zimmer struck out on his own and carved a successful career that was highlighted by such early recognized work as "Rain Man" (1988), "Driving Miss Daisy" (1989) and "Thelma & Louise" (1991). Having quickly moved up the ranks, Zimmer became a go-to favorite for directors looking to add something different to the more standardized compositions offered by more classically trained composers. He reached the pinnacle of his career when he wrote the African-inspired rhythms for the hit animated feature, "The Lion King" (1994); the music from which long remained a signature for his unique stylings. From there, Zimmer seemed to be nominated for some major award or another every year, thanks to writing such memorable music for the films "Gladiator" (2000), "The Last Samurai" (2003) and "The Dark Knight" (2008). By the time of he created the critically lauded score to "Sherlock Holmes"...

Though he began his career as a keyboardist for several late-1970s New Wave pop groups, Hans Zimmer used his pioneering blend of digital synthesizers and computer technology to become one of the most acclaimed and sought after film composers of his day. Following a brief, but productive partnership with composer Stanley Myers, Zimmer struck out on his own and carved a successful career that was highlighted by such early recognized work as "Rain Man" (1988), "Driving Miss Daisy" (1989) and "Thelma & Louise" (1991). Having quickly moved up the ranks, Zimmer became a go-to favorite for directors looking to add something different to the more standardized compositions offered by more classically trained composers. He reached the pinnacle of his career when he wrote the African-inspired rhythms for the hit animated feature, "The Lion King" (1994); the music from which long remained a signature for his unique stylings. From there, Zimmer seemed to be nominated for some major award or another every year, thanks to writing such memorable music for the films "Gladiator" (2000), "The Last Samurai" (2003) and "The Dark Knight" (2008). By the time of he created the critically lauded score to "Sherlock Holmes" (2009), Zimmer had established himself as a premiere composer with well over 100 films to his credit.

Born on Sept. 12, 1957 in Frankfurt, Germany, Zimmer lost his father when he was six years old, which led to using music as a form of escape. As a teenager, he moved to London, where he attended the Hurtwood House School and began his music career playing keyboards and synthesizers. In 1977, Zimmer began playing in The Buggles, a New Wave band that became semi-famous for their 1979 single, "Video Killed the Radio Star," which became the first music video to air on MTV in 1981. Meanwhile, Zimmer left The Buggles to join the Italian New Wave band, Krisma, with whom he was featured on keyboards for their third album, Cathode Mamma. Also at this time, he was writing advertising jingles for Air-Edel Associates, which led to a partnership with film composer, Stanley Myers. The two formed Lillie Yard Studio and began collaborating on the soundtracks to features like Jerzy Skolimowski's "Moonlighting" (1982) and Stephen Frears' "My Beautiful Laundrette" (1985). He also contributed music to the scores for "Wild Horses" (CBS, 1985), "The Lightship" (1986) and "The Last Emperor" (1987).

The following year, Zimmer branched out on his own, composing his first solo score for the mystery thriller, "Double Exposure" (1987). Over in England, he composed the catchy theme song for the British game show, "Going for Gold" (BBC1, 1987-2009), a Euro-pop tune that fast became a signature for the series. In 1988, Zimmer's career hit a huge turning point when his score for "Rain Man" (1988) earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score, marking the first of several such honors throughout his career. After scoring the infectious themes in "Driving Miss Daisy" (1989) and the lilting chimes of "Green Card" (1990), he wrote the music for some of the biggest movies in Hollywood at that time, including "Days of Thunder" (1990), "Backdraft" (1991), "Thelma & Louise" (1991) and "A League of Their Own" (1992). While he slipped in terms of cinematic quality with "Toys" (1992) and "Cool Runnings" (1993), Zimmer reached another career milestone when he took home an Oscar for supplementing Elton John's pop score with African-inspired rhythms for Disney's animated blockbuster, "The Lion King" (1994).

Zimmer turned to the heightened themes of such action movies as "Broken Arrow" (1996), "The Rock" (1996) and "The Fan" (1996), while capping off a busy year with his third Oscar nomination for his score in "The Preacher's Wife" (1996). The following year saw Zimmer make a return to the Academy Awards ceremony for his work on the James L. Brooks comedy/drama "As Good As It Gets" (1997), which was completed before he accepted the head of the music department post at DreamWorks SKG. While at DreamWorks, Zimmer worked on scores for the animated features "The Prince of Egypt" (1998), for which he was nominated again for an Academy Award, and "The Road to El Dorado (2000), as well as bringing to life the epic sounds of ancient Rome for his Oscar-nominated work on "Gladiator" (2000). Prior to "Gladiator," he created haunting and elegiac music that weaved in and out of the violence of the Pacific Theater in World War II for Terrence Malick's lyrical war epic, "The Thin Red Line" (1998), which earned him another well deserved Oscar nomination. Meanwhile, he returned to blockbuster territory by scoring "Mission: Impossible 2" (2000), "Hannibal" (2001), "Pearl Harbor" (2001) and "Black Hawk Down" (2001); all of which were made outside of DreamWorks.

Never at a loss for work, Zimmer continually proved a reliable contributor to film, transcending his electro-pop background with an arsenal of soundscapes and a talent for using the music to underline the themes of the film, emerging as a modern legend in the field. After serving as a last minute replacement on "Somethings Gotta Give" (2003), he earned a Golden Globe nomination for composing his 100th film, "The Last Samurai" (2003). Zimmer continued to rack up awards and accolades for his work, which including another Golden Globe nod for "Spanglish" (2004), and both a Grammy and Golden Globe nomination for "The Da Vinci Code" (2006). While scoring the films "Shark Tale" (2004) and "King Arthur" (2004), he collaborated with the likes of James S. Levine on "The Weather Man" (2005) and James Newton Howard on "Batman Begins" (2006). Following yet another Golden Globe nod - this time for "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" (2006) - Zimmer composed the haunting score for Christopher Nolan's epic crime saga, "The Dark Knight" (2008). Zimmer's excellent work was sadly overlooked this time. Following work on "The Simpsons Movie" (2007), he returned to awards contention with the Golden Globe-nominated score for "Frost/Nixon" (2008) and the Oscar-nominated "Sherlock Holmes" (2009), directed by Guy Ritchie. On the small screen, Zimmer found similar success with his score for Steven Spielberg's epic 10-part World War II miniseries, "The Pacific" (HBO, 2010), which earned him and cowriters Blake Neely and Geoff Zanelli an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or Special. Back in the feature world, he scored "Inception" (2010) for director Christopher Nolan, which earned the composer Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for Best Original Score.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Lightship, The (1985)
3.
 German Americans, The (2000) Interviewee
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Moved to London as a teenager
:
Worked as a record producer and wrote commercial jingles for Air-Edel Associates
:
Produced records for Tangerine Dream and The Buggles
:
Co-founded Lillie Yard Studio with Stanley Myers
1982:
First feature film as co-composer (with Myers), "Moonlighting"
1987:
First film as solo composer, "Double Exposure"
1987:
Produced the Oscar-winning score to "The Last Emperor"
1988:
Re-teamed with Myers to write the score for "The Nature of the Beast"
1988:
Earned first Academy Award nomination for Barry Levinson's "Rain Man"
1989:
Provided the underscore to Bruce Beresford's "Driving Miss Daisy"
1991:
Racked up music credits on such varied films as "Backdraft" and "Thelma and Louise"
1993:
Scored the music for "True Romance"
1994:
Won an Oscar for the African-inspired rhythms included on the soundtrack to Disney's animated "The Lion King"
1995:
Contributed music to the features "Crimson Tide" and "Something to Talk About"
1996:
Named head of music department at DreamWorks SKG
1996:
Nominated for third Academy Award for "The Preacher's Wife"
1997:
Stage version of "The Lion King" opened on Broadway
1997:
Received Oscar nomination for his score for "As Good As It Gets"
1998:
Scored the DreamWorks animated feature "The Prince of Egypt" and Terrence Malick's WWII drama "The Thin Red Line"
2000:
Wrote the underscore for the DreamWorks animated film "The Road to El Dorado"
2000:
Composed the music for DreamWorks' "Gladiator"; earned an Oscar nomination for Original Score
2001:
Scored the music for the blockbuster sequel "Hannibal"
2002:
Composed the music for "Black Hawk Down"
2003:
Joined last minute to score "Somethings Gotta Give"
2003:
Composed his 100th film "The Last Samurai"; received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score
2004:
Scored the music for "Spanglish"; received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score
2006:
Composed the music for Ron Howard's film adaptation of "The Da Vinci Code"; earned Grammy and Golden Globe nominations for Best Score
2006:
Scored the music for "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"; earned Grammy and Golden Globe nominations for Best Score
2008:
Composed (with James Newton Howard) the music score for "The Dark Knight"
2008:
Composed the music for "Frost/Nixon," an adaption of the Peter Morgan play; earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score
2009:
Composed the music for Guy Ritchie's "Sherlock Holmes"; earned Oscar and Grammy nominations for Best Original Score
2010:
Composed music for the epic WWII miniseries "The Pacific" (HBO)
2010:
Composed the score for Christopher Nolan's "Inception"; earned a Grammy nomination for Best Score Soundtrack
2010:
Contributed music to the animated feature "Megamind"
2010:
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
2011:
Nominated for the 2011 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score ¿ Motion Picture ("Inception")
2011:
Composed original music for the live action features "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" and "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" as well as the animated films "Kung Fu Panda 2" and "Rango"
2012:
Re-teamed with director Nolan as composer for "The Dark Knight Rises"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

Zimmer is a partner with Jay Rifkin in Media Ventures Entertainment Group.

"I have always looked at Hans as a resource that is far greater than just the unbelievably important, specific contribution of writing a score for a film, in how music will be used, how it will be conceived. I don't think we've had a screening of a piece of this movie ["The Road to El Dorado"], even in the very beginning of storyboarding, that Hans wasn't there as a collaborator and contributor." --DreamWorks SKG's Jeffrey Katzenberg on Zimmer, quoted in Los Angeles Times, December 15, 1998.

Zimmer on using music as subtext, working with Terrence Malick on "The Thin Red Line": "Seeing somebody get shot is less powerful than seeing the reactor on somebody else's face; observing it, experiencing it. I am that human reaction.

"I remember Terry saying, 'Write a sympathy theme. Write about what you would feel for your fellow man.' Things like that. Endless experiments." --in Los Angeles Times, December 15, 1998.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Suzanne Zimmer.

Family close complete family listing

son:
Jake Zimmer. Born on December 3, 1997.
daughter:
Zoe Zimmer.

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