Han Zimmer biography, discography, photos, news


September 12 ---> Hans Zimmer Birthday

January 2004

"The Last Samurai"
Music composed, arranged & produced by Hans Zimmer
CD Tracks
1 A Way of Life 8:03
2 Spectres in the Fog 4:07
3 Taken 3:35
4 A Hard Teacher 5:44
5 To Know My Enemy 4:48
6 Idyll's End 6:40
7 Safe Passage 4:56
8 Ronin 1:53
9 Red Warrior 3:56
10 The Way of the Sword 7:59
11 A Small Measure of Peace 7:59
Total time: 59:46

Conducted by BLAKE NEELY
Navajo voices : BENJAMIN HALE
Taiko drums : EMIL RICHARDS
Shakuhachi : BILL SHULTZ
Synthesisers : HANS ZIMMER

Academy Award-winning composer Hans Zimmer weaves the distinctive sounds of traditional Japanese instruments into his powerful original score for The Last Samurai, which marks his 100th feature film collaboration. He adds a layer of cultural nuance to the action by incorporating elements of shakuhachi, (bamboo flutes), koto (a 13-stringed instrument similar to a zither) and taiko, literally "fat drum," used in Japan in a variety of settings including courtly, religious, cultural and military. Taiko were employed on the battlefield since the 5th century to signal commands that could be heard across great distances
The Oscar winner ("The Lion King") combined traditional Japanese instruments (koto strings, shakuhachi pipes, taiko drums) with unconventional Western orchestra (just strings and brass) and synthesizers for a massive West-meets-East approach to the story of a Civil War hero in 19th-century Japan.
"Japanese music of the 1870s is completely inaccessible to most Western audiences. It would not work dramatically. In fact, it's the antithesis of drama." So he decided to use Western melodies, but try to apply a Japanese aesthetic to them. Also, he notes, there are vast stretches of images and music, with no dialogue. "Musically, we go through a big metamorphosis," he adds, just as Tom Cruise's character changes from a drunken, cynical American soldier into a respected samurai. "I track him all the way through basically by giving the other (Japanese) characters more and more weight, musically. I wanted the American to find a home, to find peace, in Japan."

Golden Globe nomination: Best original score

December 2003
Zimmer scores in movies:
"Spanglish" (2004) - confirmed
"Secret Window" (2004)
"Something´s Gotta Give" (2004)
"Collateral" (2004)
"Kingdom of Heaven" (2005) - confirmed
"Over The Hedge" (2005)


German born Hans Zimmer is a pioneer in the use of digital synthesizers, advanced computer technology, electronic keyboards and their successful integration with the traditional orchestra in music for film and television.
Moving to London, Hans began composing jingles for Air Edel Associates and teamed up with Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes as "The Buggles" to produce the worldwide hit, Video Killed the Radio Star and subsequent album The Age of Plastic. By 1980 Hans was pioneering the use of computers live on stage while working with the group Ultravox.
Then he enjoyed a period of stardom in Italy with the avant garde band Krisma, before returning to London to develop his next project with Warren Cann of Ultravox, culminating in a series of unique concerts at the London Planetarium.
It was shortly after this that Hans met and began working with the film composer Stanely Myers. Realizing the importance of incorporating the two musical forms, electronic and classical, they set up "Lillie Yard Studio" in London with the very latest state of the art musical technology.
Zimmer continued to work out of "Lille Yard Studio" as his partnership with Myers strengthened. They worked very successfully on Jerzy Skolimovshi's Moonlighting, Success Is The Best Revenge and The Lightship; Nicholas Roeg's Insignificance and The Castaway. They then went on the compose the music for the box office hit My Beautiful Launderette (Best Picture Evening Standard Awards).
In 1986 he worked solo on Working Title's Vardo and he then went on to work with Ryuichi Sakamoto, and David Byrne, to produce the soundtrack for the award winning epic The Last Emperor. This was followed by another teaming with Stanely Myers for the score of Nature and the Beast. He then wrote scores for Philip Saville's Wonderland, and Paperhouse for director Bernard Rose at Working Title. Then for Vestron he composed the music for the Faye Dunaway, Klaus Maria Brandauer feature Burning Secret.
In 1988 he was asked to compose the music for a small budget, ground breaking film about South Africa, A World Apart. Based on a true story, this film was not just a coming of age of the voice of the struggle, but a turning point in Hans' career. As a result he was asked to write the Oscar nominated score for the box office smash Rain Man.
Through 1989 Hans scored Ridley Scott's Black Rain and then his third Oscar contender, Driving Miss Daisy. He followed this with the score for the Universal release Bird on a Wire, Paramount's race car drama Days of Thunder starring Tom Cruise, Fox's thriller Pacific Heights, allowing Hans to work with Oscar winning director John Schlesinger.
In 1991 Hans completed the scores for Peter Weir's GreenCard (Golden Globe Best Comedy), Ridley Scott's Thelma & Louise, Ron Howards fireman epic, Backdraft, Richard Donner's film Radio Flyer, and Franc Roddman's mountaineering thriller, K-2.
1992 began with Hans working on his second south African film, The Power of One for director John Avildsen. The epic scope of this movie allowed Hans a unique opportunity to write both songs and music with a South African lyricist to create haunting tribal anthems to support the historic struggle of the film.
Hans then went to work with Penny Marshall on A League of Their Own about the first all woman baseball league, starring, Geena Davis, Tom Hanks and Madonna. Hans finished up 1992 working with Barry Levingson on Toys starring Robin Williams. The most popular music from that film, however, was ultimately the songs contributed by Enya.
1993 started with scoring the American version on La Femme Nikita and Point of No Return starring Bridget Fonda. This was Hans' second collaboration with director John Badham. Hans then worked with director Percy Adlon of his film "Younger and Younger, reteamed with executive producer Penny Marshall for Calendar Girl and also with Tony Scott, who directed Days of Thunder for the Quentin Tarentino story of True Romance. Hans' score for the Disney surprise hit Cool Runnings did blistering business at both the box office and in the charts. Hans' next release was the criticaly acclaimed I'll Do Anything written and directed by James L. Brooks, starring Nick Nolte. Hans also composed the original score to Bille Augusts' House of The Spirits which is doing amazing buisiness in Europe. 1995 efforts included such films as Nine Months (for which Hans wrote the theme before production started) and Something to Talk About.
Two enormously popular soundtracks were released in 1995. The score for John Boorman's Beyond Rangoon combines ethnic pipes and voice with synthesizer. Later in the year, the submarine thriller Crimson Tide was a huge success at the box office and Zimmer received high praise for his choral, action-packed score.
In 1996, he wrote a wealth of material for seven films, beginning with John Woo's Broken Arrow. This gave Hans the chance to score a western (sort of) --he had originally wanted to score Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven. Next, he scored the summer hit The Rock with Harry Gregson-Williams and a short recording for The Fan. His score for The Preacher's Wife (unreleased as of 1999) was nominated for an Academy Award. He continued with what he considers his best score: Two Deaths. Other releases of the year included The Whole Wide World and Muppet Treasure Island.
The most classical of his works, Smilla's Sense of Snow was scored in early 1997. Next for Hans was Old Friends and The Peacemaker.
Zimmer has composed the music for over 70 feature films.
In addition to his composing work, Zimmer heads DreamWorks' film music division. His appointment marks the first time that a composer has headed the music department of a major studio since the days of Dimitri Tiomkin at MGM and Alfred Newman at Twentieth Century Fox.

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Hans Zimmer

Discography / collaborations

A League Of Their Own -Composer

A World Apart -Composer

An Everlasting Piece -Composer

As Good as it Gets - Composer, Music Arranger, Music Producer, Song Producer

Backdraft -Composer

Beyond Rangoon -Composer, Music Producer

Black Hawk Down -Composer

Black Rain -Composer

Broken Arrow -Composer, Score Arranger

Castaway (LP) -Cocomposer (additional music)

Cool Runnings -Composer

Crimson Tide -Composer

Driving Miss Daisy -Composer

Drop Zone -Composer

Fan, The -Composer

Fools of Fortune -Composer

Gladiator -Co-composer

Gladiator, More music from -Co-composer

Green Card -Composer

Hannibal -Composer, Music Producer

Histoire d'O Chapitre II (Story of O.II) -Co-composer

House of the Spirits, The -Composer, Music Arranger

I'll do Anything -Composer

Insignificance (LP) -Co-composer

Invincible -Composer

Johnny English -Co-composer (additional music) (the theme)

K2: Music inspired by the film -Composer

Last Samurai- -Composer

Lion King -Composer

Matchstick Men -Composer

Millennium -Composer

Mission: Impossible II -Composer

Muppet Treasure Island- Composer

My Beautiful Laundrette (LP)
Additional music

New Music in Films- Composer

Nine Months -Composer

Pacific Heights -Composer

Paperhouse -Co-composer

Peacemaker, The -Composer

Pearl Harbor -Composer

Pledge -Co-composer

Point of No Return -Composer

Power of One -Composer

Prince of Egypt -Composer, lyricist

Radio Flyer -Composer

Rain Man -Composer

Regarding Henry -Composer

Renaissance Man -Composer

Riding in Cars with Boys -Composer

Road to El Dorado - Co-composer

The Rock -Co-composer, Music Producer, Score Arranger

Smilla's Sense of snow -Co-composer

Something to Talk About -Co-composer

Spirit: Stallin of the Cimarron -Composer

Tears of the Sun -Composer

Thelma & Louise -Composer

Thin Red Line -Composer

Toys -Composer, Musician

True Romance -Composer

Wings of a Film, -Live album

Younger and Younger- Composer

Official soundtrack releases with other Hans Zimmer contributions

Antz -Music Executive Producer

Endurance -Music Producer

Face Off -Score Producer

Fame L.A. -Score Producer (TV Series)

Last Emperor -Score Producer

Liar-Sound Advisor

Lion King - Broadway Co-composer

Mask of the Phantasm (Batman: The Animated Movie) -Synthesist

Memoirs of an Invisible man -Synthesist

Pirates Of The Caribbean -Music Producer

Rhythm Of The Pride Lands -Song Arranger

Shrek -Music Producer

Spy Kids -Music Producer

Spy Game Assistance to Harry Gregson Williams

White Squall -Music Producer

With Friends Like These... -Music Producer

Rare releases of soundtracks composed by Hans Zimmer


Hans Zimmer



Kingdom of Heaven Composer

Over The Hedge Composer


King Arthur Composer

Shark Tale (a.k.a. Sharkslayer) Composer

Spanglish Composer

The Lion King 1 1/2 (a.k.a. Lion King 3:Hakuna Matata) rumour Composer

Collateral rumour Composer

Something's Gotta Give Composer


The Last Samurai Composer

Matchstick Men Composer

Threat Matrix Co-composer (TV Series) (the theme)

Pirates of the Caribbean Music Producer

Tears of the Sun Composer

Johnny English Co-composer (additional music) (the theme)


Live From Baghdad Executive Music Producer

The Ring Composer

Spirit: Stallin of the Cimarron Composer, Music Producer

Black Hawk Down Composer


Riding in Cars with Boys Composer

Invincible Composer

Pearl Harbor Composer

What About Joan Composer (TV Series Theme)

Hannibal Composer, Music Producer

The Pledge Co-composer

Shrek Music Producer

Spy Kids Music Producer

King of the Jungle Executive Producer

Spy Game Assistance to Harry Gregson Williams


An Everlasting Piece Composer

Mission: Impossible II Composer

Gladiator / More music from... Co-composer

The Road to El Dorado Co-composer

Chicken Run (Special thanks)


El Candidato Composer (TV Series)

Die Motorrad-Cops: Hart am Limit Composer (Theme)

Chill Factor Co-composer

Das Dritte Reich - in Farbe Composer (TV)

Endurance Music Producer

The Last Days Composer

The Prince of Egypt / Collect.Edit Composer, lyricist

The Thin Red Line Composer

Antz Music Executive Producer

With Friends Like These... Music Producer

Jack Frost (piece from Backdraft) Deceiver Sound Advisor


As Good as it Gets Composer, Arranger, Music Producer

The Lion King - Broadway Co-composer

Scream 2 (piece from Broken Arrow). Song Writer: "Brothers", "Secure"

The Peacemaker Composer

The Borrowers Score Producer

Fame L.A. Score Producer (TV Series)

Face Off Score Producer

Smilla's Sense of snow Co-composer

Liar (a.k.a. Deceiver)vSound Advisor


The Rock Co-composer, Score Arranger, Music Producer

The Preacher's Wife Composer

The Fan Composer

Muppet Treasure Island Composer

High Incident Composer (TV Series Theme)

Broken Arrow Composer, Score Arranger

White Squall Music Producer


Two Deaths Composer

Something to Talk About Co-composer

Nine Months Composer

Beyond Rangoon Composer, Music Producer

Crimson Tide Composer

Rhythm Of The Pride Lands Song Arranger


I'll Do Anything Composer

Monkey Trouble Co-composer (additional music)

Renaissance Man Composer

Drop Zone Composer

The Lion King Composer

Africa: The Serengeti Composer

The Critic Composer (TV Series Theme)


Ryori no tetsujin (Iron Chef) Composer (TV Series, From Backdraft)

Calendar Girl Composer

Cool Runnings Composer

Point Of No Return Composer

Younger and Younger Composer

The House of the Spirits Composer, Music Arranger

True Romance Composer

Space Rangers Composer (TV Series)

Lifepod Co-composer

Sniper Co-composer (additional music)

Mask of the Phantasm (Batman: The Animated Movie) Synthesist

Aspen Extreme Song writer "The Driver - Part 2"


Millennium Composer (TV Series)

The Power of One Composer

Radio Flyer Composer

Where Sleeping Dogs lie Composer

Toys Composer, Musician

A League of Their OwnvComposer

Memoirs of an Invisible man Synthesist


Regarding Henry Composer, Synthesist

K2: Music inspired by the film Composer

Backdraft Composer

Thelma & Louise Composer

White Fang Co-composer (additional music)


Green Card Composer

Pacific Heights Composer

Fools of Fortune Composer

Chicago Joe and the Showgirl Co-composer

Days of Thunder Composer

Bird on a Wire Composer

Maniac City new! Komponist

Nightmare at NoonvCo-composer

To the Moon Alice Composer (TV)

Showtime 30-Minute Movie, the Composer (TV)

Mumm new! Composer (TV commercials)


First Born Composer (TV Series)

Diamand Skulls (a.k.a. Dark Obsession) Composer

Prisoner of Rio (a.k.a. Wiezien Rio) Co-composer

Driving Miss Daisy Composer

Black Rain Composer

Arcadia Composer
S.P.O.O.K.S. Composer
Bread Composer (TV)


The Fruit Machine (a.k.a. Wonderland) Composer

Paperhouse Co-composer

Spies Inc. (a.k.a. Codename: Chaos) Composer

Nature of The Beast Co-composer

Taffin Composer

Twister Composer

A World Apart Composer

Burning Secrets Composer

Vardo Composer

Elphida Composer

Rain Man Composer


Comeback Composer (TV)

The Wind Composer

Castaway Co-composer (additional music)

Terminal Exposure (a.k.a. Double Exposure) Co-composer

The Last Emperor Score Producer


Seperate Vacations Co-composer

The Zero Boys Co-composer (additional music)

My Beautiful Laundrette Co-composer, Music Producer


Insignificance Co-composer
Dreamchild Co-composer

Wild Horses Co-composer

The LightshipvCo-composer


Histoire d'O Chapitre II (Story of O.II) Co-composer

Success is the Best Revenge Co-composer

Blind Date Co-composer


Eureka Co-composer


Moonlighting Co-composer

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The Last Samurai

Golden Globe Nomination
- Best original score

Spirit: Stallion Of Cimarron

Golden Globe Nomination
- Best original song: "Here I Am" from Spirit: Stallion of Cimarron


Spirit: Stallion Of Cimarron

Fennecus Awards 2002
Song Score - Original or Adaptation

Black Hawk Down

World Soundtrack Awards Nomination (2002)
- Best Original Soundtrack of the Year - Orchestral

Spirit: Stallion Of Cimarron

World Soundtrack Awards Nomination (2002)
- Best song: This is where I belong' from Spirit: Stallion of Cimmaron
Hannibal ASCAP Award
Top Box Office Films
Pearl Harbor ASCAP Award
Top Box Office Films

Pearl Harbor

Golden Globe Nomination (2002)
Best Original Score

Mission: Impossible II ASCAP Award
Top Box Office Films
The Road to El Dorado Saturn Award Nomination
Best Music
Gladiator Bafta Award Nomination
Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music
Gladiator Saturn Award Nomination


World Soundtrack Awards Nomination
WSA Best Original Soundtrack of the Year

Pearl Harbor

World Soundtrack Awards Nomination
WSA Best Original Soundtrack of the Year

The Pledge

World Soundtrack Awards Nomination
WSA Best Original Soundtrack of the Year

An Everlasting Piece

World Soundtrack Awards Nomination
WSA Best Original Soundtrack of the Year



Academy Award Nomination
Best Original Score

Golden Globe Award
Best Original Score


Grammy Award Nomination
Best Score Soundtrack Album
Gladiator ASCAP Award
Top Box Office Films*
Gladiator Golden Satellite Award
Best Original Score
Gladiator Sierra Award
Best Score
Gladiator Online Film Critics Society Award Nomination
Best Original Score*
Gladiator Chicago Film Critics Association Nomination
Best Original Score


The Prince of Egypt

Saturn Award Nomination
Best Music


The Prince of Egypt

Grammy Award Nomination
Best Soundtrack Album (producer’s award)

The Thin Red Line

Academy Award Nomination
Best Original Dramatic Score

The Prince of Egypt

Academy Award Nomination
Best Original Musical or Comedy Score

The Prince of Egypt

Golden Globe Nomination
Best Original Score

The Thin Red Line

Golden Satellite Award
Best Original Score


As Good As It Gets

Academy Award Nomination
Best Original Musical or Comedy Score


The Preacher's Wife

Academy Award Nomination
Best Original Musical or Comedy Score

Crimson Tide

Grammy Award
Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture


The Lion King

Academy Award
Best Original Score

The Lion King

Golden Globe Award
Best Original Score

The Lion King

Grammy Award
Best Musical Album for Children*

The Lion King

Grammy Award Nomination
Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture

The Lion King (song:Circle of Life)

Grammy Award Nomination
Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists/Best Background Arrangement: Circle Of Life
The Lion King Bafta Award Nomination
Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music
The Lion King Chicago Film Critics Association Award
Best Score
The Lion King The Sammy Awards
Best Score of the Year


Thelma & Louise

Bafta Award Nomination
Best Original Film Score


Driving Miss Daisy

Grammy Award Nomination
Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture


Rain Man

Academy Award Nomination
1988 Best Original Score


What is the difference between score- and song-soundtracks?

Hans Zimmer: A score is the most orchestral sound that underlies the film. The music is specially written for the film. In most cases, a pure score-CD is released of a film. Although often there is only a CD with songs. Sometimes, a ‘mixed’ CD, with both score and songs, is put on the market.

Who is Hans Zimmer?

Hans Zimmer: For years, Hans Zimmer has been one of the most successful composers of filmmusic in Hollywood. Born in Frankfurt am Main, he started his career in England, where he worked with composer Stanley Meyers. After some co-compositions for Meyers, soon commissions followed for projects of his own.After this came his move to Hollywood and he finally broke through with his music for Oscar-winner ‘Rain Man’.

What does Hans Zimmer have to do with the oldie ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’?

Hans Zimmer: Before Hans Zimmer became active in filmmusic, he was a member of the 1980’s band The Buggles, that scored a hit with their ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’, in 1979. If you would dig up an old TV-performance, you can recognize Hans Zimmer behind the synthesizer.

What goes behind Media Ventures?

Hans Zimmer: Media Ventures is the L.A. based music-studio of Hans Zimmer and his partner, Jay Rifkin. Zimmer himself described MV as ‘School of Sounds’. Zimmer founded the firm to give young, talented composers a career-start in Hollywood.

What is the link between composers like Harry Gregson-Williams, Mark Mancina & Co. And Hans Zimmer?

Hans Zimmer: These composers are or were colleagues in the ‘soundfactory’ of Zimmer’s Media Ventures. Zimmer works closely with ‘his people’ on a whole range of different projects. Harry Gregson-Williams for instance, conducts numerous Zimmer-scores. Nick Glennie-Smith wrote shorter passages for Zimmer’s ‘Nine Months’, Hans Zimmer on the other hand produced for example the score for Jeff Rona’s ‘White Squall’ or John Powell’s ‘Face/Off’. Some co-productions are not even accounted for by a credit.

Which modular system did you start off with ?

Hans Zimmer: The Roland System 700. It's pretty much on every movie that I ever did in England such as 'Thelma and Louise'. Part of it just got used as the greatest auto-panner in the world!! Because with film stuff, when you put things out of phase they go to the back, so I'd make these really elaborate patches up, and put half the mix through it and it would throw it to the back and round to the front and delay one side... all that sort of stuff. Like real kids stuff, great fun!!!

Did you ever use any modular synths live and what sort of problems did they create?

The system 700 and Moog went on tour. At the Old Vic in London they have a revolving stage which is on a slant, and if anybody hits the revolve switch by accident, everything starts falling towards you - which is pretty frightening. Also we played at the "Reading Festival". We had played warm up gigs at the Marquee using the Roland Micro-composer which would start everything off. Nobody would ever count the bars, rather just look over and say "oh bar 16 we are in on bar 17" - but at Reading, the sun was blazing down so nobody could see the display and we all realised it too late. We all came in like 2 bars late, the sequencer playing absolutely the right thing and all of us 2 bars late!! Of course we never caught up!!! I just looked over at Warren Caan (Ultravox drummer) and shrugged my shoulders and he went "switch the f**ker off!!!"

Which modulars do you use right now?

Hans Zimmer: I have the Roland System 100M. I have the Jupiters and all that sort of stuff - a Yamaha CS 80 with midi. I also like the Roland JD 800 and 990's but I'm afraid the D50 has been switched off for an awfully long time, and I don't think it is going to be switched on again in a great hurry!!!

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What's an example of something that can go wrong that would make you have a bad day?

Hans Zimmer: Writing a tune that you think is really good, and then come in the next day and you realize it's completely ghastly. You just have to throw it out and start again. Actually that is not so bad as sitting there and just not coming up with ideas. And there are days like that. There are more days without the ideas than there are days with ideas.

Your film music career is then your dream job, exactly what you want to do.

Hans Zimmer: Absolutely. Whenever other interesting things come along, and they do come along, I get sidetracked for 10 seconds. It is surprising what happens when I sit back in this room. I have a great time writing. It is more satisfying than anything else. You just want to shut the world out and be completely selfish, and just write.

Most of your music have electronic elements in them.

Hans Zimmer: Yeah, that is where I come from. Maybe I am not smart enough to separate orchestra or electronics. I just think if it makes a noise, use it. A lot of my stuff has fun sounds as well, a lot of percussion, etc. Anything that makes noise is allowed to be in the score.

Do you ever miss living in Germany?

Hans Zimmer: Noooo. I am a gypsy. Wherever I can do music, I am happy. So you know, it is beside the point where I am. There are composers who work from Europe in Hollywood, but I just need to be where the film is. So wherever the film is, I am going to be, because I actually need to go to the cutting room and ask dumb questions. See everybody else's process and be involved.

Since you have traveled so much, where do you think is the most beautiful place on earth?

Hans Zimmer: Australia. I've spent quite a bit of time down there. In fact I was down there recently, a couple of times again. There is something about the people and the lifestyle, it is just a gorgeous place. I think, if I could, I would move to Sydney. The problem is that it is so far away. Recently I flew from Sydney to Europe, and it was a 28 hour flight. But because it is so far away, you still do feel you get creative, unspoiled ideas down there. And a different way of working, and a different way of looking at things. From what I have seen, I just really like the lifestyle and the people. I've always had an interesting time there.

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advanced technologic sound magazine
2004 january issue 120

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