Dimitri Tiomkin


Composer

About

Also Known As
Dmitri Tiomkin, Dimitri Zinovievich Tiomkin
Birth Place
St Petersburg, , RU
Born
May 10, 1899
Died
November 11, 1979

Biography

One of the most influential European film composers of the 20th Century, Dimitri Tiomkin made the unlikely leap from post-revolutionary Russia to Hollywood thanks to a rich melodic sound which effortlessly captured the American spirit. A favorite of several legendary directors, classically-trained pianist Tiomkin first struck up a creative partnership with Frank Capra on "Lost Horizon" (...

Family & Companions

Albertina Rasch
Wife
Dancer, choreographer.

Bibliography

"Please Don't Hate Me"
Dimitri Tiomkin (1960)

Notes

One of six motion picture composers honored with a postage stamp in 1999.

Biography

One of the most influential European film composers of the 20th Century, Dimitri Tiomkin made the unlikely leap from post-revolutionary Russia to Hollywood thanks to a rich melodic sound which effortlessly captured the American spirit. A favorite of several legendary directors, classically-trained pianist Tiomkin first struck up a creative partnership with Frank Capra on "Lost Horizon" (1937), which later resulted in the first of a staggering 22 Oscar nominations with "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939). Tiomkin then moved into Western territory for a number of Fred Zinnemann films including "High Noon" (1952), whose box-office success was widely attributed to a hit theme tune which unarguably introduced the concept of the blockbuster soundtrack. Showcasing his versatility, Tiomkin also scored four Alfred Hitchcock classics, changed the course of science fiction music on Howard Hawks' "The Thing" (1951) and enhanced the epic nature of "The Land of the Pharaohs" (1955). Tiomkin's 'golden decade' ended in 1958 but he continued to court awards attention with his expansive scores for "Town Without Pity" (1961), "The Fall of the Roman Empire" (1964) and his final work, "Chaikovsky" (1969), and also made a major impact on the small screen with his memorable theme to "Rawhide" (CBS, 1959-1965). His 1979 death closed the book on one of Hollywood's most visionary composing careers.

Born in Kremenchuk in 1894 to a pathologist father and music teacher mother, Tiomkin was encouraged to pursue a career as a professional pianist from a young age and after studying under Alexander Glazunov and Felix Blumenfeld at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, landed his first job playing piano accompaniment for several Russian silent films. Disillusioned with the lack of work for classical musicians in the wake of the Russian revolution, Tiomkin moved to Berlin where he made his performing debut with the city's Philharmonic Orchestra, before relocating again, first to Paris, and then to New York, where alongside roommate Michael Khariton and a ballet troupe run by future wife Albertian Rasch, he became a staple of the Keith/Albee and Orpheum vaudeville circuit. Heavily inspired by the Romanticism of George Gershwin, Tiomkin was then invited to perform at the European premiere of the composer's "Concerto in F" at the Paris Opera in 1928, and the pair coincidentally ended up making the same career move when they both joined the film industry in the early '30s.

Tiomkin's first notable film score project was "Alice in Wonderland" (1933), and after an arm injury put pay to his ambitions of becoming a concert pianist, he began to focus all his efforts on Hollywood, achieving his big break when Frank Capra hired him to write and perform the music for the fantasy drama, "Lost Horizon" (1937), in the same year that Tiomkin also became a U.S. citizen. The pair enjoyed a fruitful working relationship over the next decade on the likes of "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" (1939), "Meet John Doe" (1941) and "It's A Wonderful Life" (1946), with Tiomkin picking up the first of 22 Oscar nominations for his work on the former. The duo also collaborated on "Why We Fight," a series of propaganda films commissioned by the US government to explain the merits of war, and Tiomkin later cited Capra as the inspiration for his move away from European Romanticism to the story-based American style that would become his calling card.

Tiomkin further honed this sound on a number of westerns including "Duel in the Sun" (1946), "Red River" (1948) and "The Men" (1950), and forged a second major partnership with the director of the latter, Fred Zinnemann. Tiomkin was credited with transforming the fortunes of their second collaborative effort, "High Noon" (1952), when the success of its theme song, "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin' (The Ballad of High Noon)" inspired a previously hesitant United Artists studio to release the film which had tested terribly without music four months earlier. The movie subsequently became a box-office smash and picked up seven Oscar nods, with Tiomkin winning two for Best Original Music and Best Song. Tiomkin added to his catalog of Western soundtracks with the likes of "The High & The Mighty" (1954), for which he won a third Academy Award and famously thanked the European classical composers who had inspired him in his acceptance speech, "Giant" (1956), "Friendly Persuasion" (1956) and "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" (1957).

However, his golden decade also saw him tackle various other genres with equal aplomb. Having previously worked on Alfred Hitchock's "Shadow of a Doubt" (1943), Tiomkin then teamed up with the Master of Suspense for three consecutive films, "Strangers on a Train" (1951), "I Confess" (1953) and "Dial M For Murder" (1954). "The Thing" (1951) saw Tiomkin experiment with distorted instrumentation to revolutionise the sound of science-fiction music, while swashbuckling romance "Cyrano de Bergerac" (1950) military drama "The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell" (1955) and historical epic "Land of the Pharaohs" (1955) all benefited from Tiomkin's golden touch. Tiomkin also picked up the fourth and final Oscar of his career for his work on the adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's fable "The Old Man and the Sea" (1958), and a year later ventured into television for the first time to produce the unforgettable theme tune for long-running Western drama "Rawhide" (CBS, 1959-1965).

Tiomkin spent much of the early 60s in familiar Western territory, scoring the John Wayne classic "The Alamo" (1960), reuniting with Zinnemann on "The Sundowners" (1960) and adding John Huston to his list of legendary collaborators on "The Unforgiven" (1960). But he also continued to display his versatility on the likes of British-American action-adventure "The Guns of Navarone" (1961), courtroom drama "Town Without Pity" (1961) and European-made epics "55 Days at Peking" (1963) and "The Fall of the Roman Empire" (1964). Tiomkin's work-rate then slowed down considerably and after picking up the final Oscar nomination of his once-prolific career for his work on the biopic of the iconic Russian composer, "Chaikovsky" (1969), he retired from the film world altogether. Two weeks after suffering a bad fall, Tiomkin died from his resulting injuries at his London home in 1979 at the age of 85, leaving behind a pioneering body of work that no other European film composer can match.

Filmography

 

Producer (Feature Film)

Mackenna's Gold (1969)
Producer

Music (Feature Film)

Widows (2018)
Song
Acrimony (2018)
Song
Money Monster (2016)
Song
Into the Forest (2016)
Song
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Hers (2014)
Song
Happy Feet Two (2011)
Song
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Song
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Song Performer
Ghost Town (2008)
Theme Song
Alpha Dog (2006)
Song
Kinky Boots (2005)
Song
Shrek 2 (2004)
Theme Song
My Favorite Martian (1999)
Song
Metro (1997)
Music ("High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me)")
Suburbia (1996)
Song
Hollywood Sound (1995)
Music Composer
The Man Without A Face (1993)
Song
Point Of No Return (1993)
Song
Jennifer Eight (1992)
Song
An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991)
Song
City Slickers (1991)
Song
Look Who's Talking (1989)
Song
Elvira: Mistress Of The Dark (1988)
Song
Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
Song
The MGM Three Stooges Festival (1983)
Music
Let There Be Light (1980)
Music
Except For Thee And Me (1975)
Song
Great Catherine (1968)
Music comp & Conductor
The War Wagon (1967)
Music comp & Conductor
The War Wagon (1967)
Composer
36 Hours (1965)
Music comp & Conductor
Circus World (1964)
Music
The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964)
Music
55 Days at Peking (1963)
Music comp & Conductor
55 Days at Peking (1963)
Composer
The Guns of Navarone (1961)
Music comp & Conductor
Town Without Pity (1961)
Music
Town Without Pity (1961)
Composer
The Last Sunset (1961)
Composer
The Unforgiven (1960)
Music
The Sundowners (1960)
Music Composition and Conducting
The Alamo (1960)
Music Composition and Conducting
The Alamo (1960)
Composer
The Young Land (1959)
Music wrt and Conductor
Rio Bravo (1959)
Music Composition and Conducting
Last Train from Gun Hill (1959)
Music Composition and Conducting
The Young Land (1959)
Composer
Rio Bravo (1959)
Composer
Wild Is the Wind (1958)
Music Composition and Conducting
The Old Man and the Sea (1958)
Music Composition and Conducting
Wild Is the Wind (1958)
Composer
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)
Music Composition and Conducting
Night Passage (1957)
Music Composition and Conducting
Search for Paradise (1957)
Music
Night Passage (1957)
Composer
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)
Composer
Search for Paradise (1957)
Composer
Friendly Persuasion (1956)
Music Composition and Conducting
Tension at Table Rock (1956)
Music Composition and Conducting
Giant (1956)
Music Composition and Conducting
Giant (1956)
Composer
Friendly Persuasion (1956)
Composer
Strange Lady in Town (1955)
Music Composition and Conducting
Land of the Pharaohs (1955)
Music Composition and Conducting
The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955)
Music Composition and Conducting
Strange Lady in Town (1955)
Composer
The High and the Mighty (1954)
Music Composition and Conducting
Dial M for Murder (1954)
Music Composition and Conducting
His Majesty O'Keefe (1954)
Music comp and Conductor
The Command (1954)
Music Composition
The Adventures of Hajji Baba (1954)
Music wrt and Director
Cease Fire (1954)
Music score comp and Conductor
A Bullet Is Waiting (1954)
Music wrt and Conductor
His Majesty O'Keefe (1954)
Composer
The Adventures of Hajji Baba (1954)
Composer
Cease Fire (1954)
Composer
The High and the Mighty (1954)
Composer
I Confess (1953)
Music Composition and Conducting
Angel Face (1953)
Music Composition and Conducting
Blowing Wild (1953)
Music Composition and Conducting
Jeopardy (1953)
Music Composition and Conducting
Return to Paradise (1953)
Music Composition and Conducting
The Four Poster (1953)
Music comp and Director
Take the High Ground! (1953)
Music Composition and Conducting
Return to Paradise (1953)
Composer
I Confess (1953)
Composer
Blowing Wild (1953)
Composer
Take the High Ground! (1953)
Composer
Lady in the Iron Mask (1952)
Music comp and Director
My Six Convicts (1952)
Music comp and Director
The Steel Trap (1952)
Music comp and Director
Mutiny (1952)
Music comp and Director
The Big Sky (1952)
Music comp and Director
High Noon (1952)
Music comp and Director
The Happy Time (1952)
Music comp and Director
Bugles in the Afternoon (1952)
Music
The Happy Time (1952)
Composer
High Noon (1952)
Composer
The Steel Trap (1952)
Composer
The Big Sky (1952)
Composer
The Thing from Another World (1951)
Music comp and Director
Drums in the Deep South (1951)
Music comp and Director by
Peking Express (1951)
Music Score
Cyrano de Bergerac (1951)
Music comp and Director
Mister Universe (1951)
Music Composition and Conducting
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Original Music
The Well (1951)
Music comp and Director
D.O.A. (1950)
Music wrt and Director by
The Men (1950)
Music comp and Director
Guilty Bystander (1950)
Music Composition and Conducting
Champagne for Caesar (1950)
Music wrt and Director
Dakota Lil (1950)
Music comp and Director by
Dakota Lil (1950)
Composer
The Men (1950)
Composer
Home of the Brave (1949)
Music comp and Director
Canadian Pacific (1949)
Music wrt and Director
Portrait of Jennie (1949)
Music score wrt and Conductor
Champion (1949)
Music comp and Director
Red Light (1949)
Music comp and Director
Champion (1949)
Composer
Tarzan and the Mermaids (1948)
Music composed and Director by
The Dude Goes West (1948)
Music Composition and Conducting
So This Is New York (1948)
Music score composed and Director by
Red River (1948)
Music comp and Director
Red River (1948)
Composer
The Long Night (1947)
Music comp and Director
Duel in the Sun (1947)
Music wrt and Conductor
Duel in the Sun (1947)
Composer
Whistle Stop (1946)
Original score and Music Director
The Dark Mirror (1946)
Music
Angel on My Shoulder (1946)
Music comp and Director by
Black Beauty (1946)
Original score and Music Director
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
Music score wrt and Director
War Comes to America (1945)
Original Music comp
Here Is Germany (1945)
Music Director
Pardon My Past (1945)
Music score comp and Conductor by
Dillinger (1945)
Music Score
War Comes to America (1945)
Music Director
Tunisian Victory (1944)
Original Music comp
The Battle of China (1944)
Music comp and Director
Ladies Courageous (1944)
Music score and Director
The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1944)
Music score and Director
When Strangers Marry (1944)
Music Score
The Impostor (1944)
Music score and Director
The Negro Soldier (1944)
Music Director
Tunisian Victory (1944)
Music Director
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Original Music score
The Battle of Russia (1943)
Music
The Nazis Strike (1943)
Original Music compositions by
The Nazis Strike (1943)
Music under the Supervisor of
Unknown Guest (1943)
Music Score
Substitution and Conversion (1943)
Music under the Supervisor of
The Battle of Britain (1943)
Music Director
Divide and Conquer (1943)
Music Director
A Gentleman After Dark (1942)
Music Score
Twin Beds (1942)
Music Score
The Moon and Sixpence (1942)
Music Score
The Corsican Brothers (1941)
Music Score
Meet John Doe (1941)
Music Score
Flying Blind (1941)
Music Score
Forced Landing (1941)
Music Supervisor
Scattergood Meets Broadway (1941)
Music Score
Lucky Partners (1940)
Music Score
The Westerner (1940)
Music Director
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Music Score
Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
Music
Spawn of the North (1938)
Music
You Can't Take It with You (1938)
Music Score
The Great Waltz (1938)
Music of Johann Strauss II Adapted and Arrangements
The Great Waltz (1938)
Composer
The Road Back (1937)
Music Score
Lost Horizon (1937)
Music Score
The Casino Murder Case (1935)
Synch score
I Live My Life (1935)
Music Score
Mad Love (1935)
Music Score
Alice in Wonderland (1933)
Music
Resurrection (1931)
Music
The Rogue Song (1930)
Ballet Music
Lord Byron of Broadway (1930)
Composer
Devil-May-Care (1929)
Ballet music
Pointed Heels (1929)
Composer

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Turbulence (1997)
Other

Music (Special)

Merry Christmas, George Bailey (1997)
Music
Music For the Movies: The Hollywood Sound (1995)
Music

Music (Short)

Know Your Enemy: Japan (1945)
Music Director
San Pietro (1944)
Music
Know Your Ally: Britain (1943)
Music Director
Roast-Beef and Movies (1934)
Music
Crazy House (1930)
Music Composer
The Devil's Cabaret (1928)
Music Composer

Life Events

1925

Pursued a career as a concert pianist, conductor and composer in Europe before emigrating to US

1937

Hired by Frank Capra to write and perform score for "Lost Horizon"

1940

Picks up first of 22 Oscar nominations for "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" (1939)

1943

Works on first of four Alfred Hitchcock films, "Shadow of a Doubt"

1952

Credited with saving "High Noon" (1952) with theme song, "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'"

1959

Receives fourth and final Oscar for "The Old Man and the Sea" (1958)

1969

Scores final film, "Chaikovsky"

1970

Returned to Russia to serve as executive producer on a biopic of "Tchaikovsky" (1971)

Videos

Movie Clip

High Noon (1952) - Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darlin' Outlaws Colby (Lee Van Cleef), Ben Miller (Sheb Wooley) and Pierce (Robert Wilke) gather as Tex Ritter sings "Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darlin'" in the opening of Fred Zinnemann's High Noon, 1952.
Portrait of Jennie (1949) - Don't You Have Anybody To Play With? The music changes as artist Eben Adams (Joseph Cotten, narrating) meets schoolgirl Jennie Appleton (Jennifer Jones, her first scene) who has odd ideas about Cape Cod and time, in Central Park, in Portrait of Jennie, 1949.
Rio Bravo (1959) - My Rifle, My Pony and Me One expects the specialty number ("My Rifle, My Pony and Me," Dimitri Tiomkin and Paul Francis Webster) for Dude (Dean Martin) and Colorado (Ricky Nelson), but maybe not the encore with Stumpy (Walter Brennan) in Howard Hawks' Rio Bravo, 1959.
Guns of Navarone, The (1961) - These Are Fine People Mallory (Gregory Peck) leads his incognito Allied commandos into a Nazi-occupied Greek town, Pappadimos (James Darren) joining in wedding festivities, before trouble arises, in The Guns of Navarone, 1961.
Guns of Navarone, The (1961) - Lower Your Sails On their way through the Aegean on their undercover commando mission, posing as local fishermen, Mallory (Gregory Peck) and crew (Anthony Quinn, David Niven, Anthony Quayle, Stanley Baker, James Darren) are waylaid by a Nazi gunboat in The Guns of Navarone, 1961.
Duel In The Sun (1947) - Right On About Your Business The famous and now much-derided seduction scene, as Lewt (Gregory Peck) returns to the ranch to find only Vashti (Butterfly McQueen) between himself and the fiery semi-servant Pearl (Jennifer Jones), producer David O. Selznick's hand much in evidence, in Duel In The Sun, 1947.
55 Days At Peking (1963) - Open, Foreign Compound Dimitri Tiomkin music for the tone and narration to set the stage for producer Samuel Bronston's imperial epic 55 Days At Peking, 1963, starring Charlton Heston, David Niven and Ava Gardner.
Town Without Pity (1961) - Crazy, Stupid And Sick! Army lawyer Garrett (Kirk Douglas), defending four guilty American soldiers against rape charges, debriefs a working girl (Ingrid van Bergen) in a bar in post-war Germany, until local reporter Inge (Barbara Rutting) intrudes, in Town Without Pity, 1961.
Alamo, The (1960) -- Opening, Prologue Opening title sequence, following the overture, from director John Wayne's ambitious The Alamo, 1960, starring himself as Davy Crockett, Richard Widmark as Jim Bowie, and Laurence Harvey as Col. Travis.

Trailer

Tension at Table Rock - (Original Trailer) When the owner of a stagecoach station is killed, a gunman takes his place in Tension at Table Rock (1956) starring Richard Egan.
Only Angels Have Wings - (Original Trailer) Cary Grant heads a team of flyers in a mountainous South American country in Howard Hawks' Only Angels Have Wings (1939).
I Confess - (Original Trailer) Montgomery Clift plays a priest accused of murder who hears but cannot tell the confession of the actual murderer in Alfred Hitchcock's I Confess (1953).
Westerner, The (1940) -- (Original Trailer) A drifter (Gary Cooper) accused of horse stealing faces off against the notorious Judge Roy Bean (Walter Brennan).
Land of the Pharaohs - (Original Trailer) A scheming seductress (Joan Collins) plots to make herself queen of Egypt in Howard Hawks' Land of the Pharaohs (1955).
Happy Time, The - (Original Trailer) A Canadian patriarch (Charles Boyer) fights to keep his wayward brother (Louis Jordan) from leading his son astray in The Happy Time (1952).
Friendly Persuasion - (British Trailer) Gary Cooper plays a Quaker whose pacifism is tested during the Civil War in Friendly Persuasion, 1956, directed by William Wyler.
Cyrano de Bergerac (1951) - (Original Trailer) The Best Actor award went to Jose Ferrer for his portrayal of Cyrano de Bergerac (1951).
Bullet Is Waiting, A - (Original Trailer) A plane crash strands a policeman and his prisoner in the wilderness in A Bullet Is Waiting (1954) starring Jean Simmons and Rory Calhoun.
Last Sunset, The - (Original Trailer) A sheriff (Rock Hudson) finds the outlaw (Kirk Douglas) he's hunting leading a cattle drive and decides to help him before arresting him in Robert Aldrich's The Last Sunset (1961).
Dial M For Murder - (Original Trailer) An unfaithful husband frames his wife for a murder in Dial M For Murder (1954), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
Sundowners, The - (Original Trailer) An Australian sheep-herder and his wife clash over their nomadic existence and their son's future in The Sundowners (1960) starring Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr.

Companions

Albertina Rasch
Wife
Dancer, choreographer.

Bibliography

"Please Don't Hate Me"
Dimitri Tiomkin (1960)

Notes

One of six motion picture composers honored with a postage stamp in 1999.