September 01, 2007

Hans Zimmer

By Jin Moon

Hans Zimmer
Hans Zimmer

Recently triumphing with the score for The Simpsons Movie, Hans Zimmer is perhaps one of the most renowned contemporary Hollywood composers. Coming from an early rock background, the German-born composer has steadily built his career simply by doing what he loves best — writing music. He has scored over 100 films and television shows, has been nominated for seven Academy Awards and five Grammys and has earned one Oscar and one Grammy.

Earlier this year, Silva Screen Records commemorated Zimmer's many accomplished scores with Film Music of Hans Zimmer, a double-disc set of highlights from his film composing career. On top of this release, Zimmer's work on the traditional symphonic score for The Simpsons Movie opened him up to an even broader audience.

"With The Simpsons Movie, I thought, 'Hang on a second, they've been around for years but none of the characters have any themes really.' So I was just noodling around," Zimmer recently told CNN. "I try to understand my characters. Why are they like this? And why would I find it even remotely compelling to watch a story about a weird character like this, and what's funny about it? And after all this semi-intelligent talk it really comes down to flailing around and hoping that some of those notes make sense and that they can tell a story."

As a youngster, Zimmer moved away from Germany to London and started writing commercial jingles for Air-Edel Associates. In 1980, he worked with the Buggles of "Video Killed the Radio Star" fame and other bands like Ultravox and Krisma. Zimmer and fellow composer Stanley Myers then opened up their own recording studio, Lillie Yard, in London. Zimmer and Myers then began working on music for films, including Moonlighting, Success Is the Best Revenge and My Beautiful Launderette. Their work brought cutting edge technology into the world of traditional orchestra music, resulting in stunning and acclaimed soundtracks.

Branching out on his own, Zimmer's first solo work was A World Apart. Shortly thereafter, Zimmer was nominated for an Oscar for the score of the 1988 Academy Award-winning film, Rain Man. The Oscar nod really catapulted him into the Hollywood spotlight as he worked on the scores for Driving Miss Daisy, Backdraft, Thelma & Louse, A League of Their Own and Days of Thunder. In 1994, he turned to the world of animation and finally won an Oscar for his score for Disney's Lion King. In the millennium, the award-winning composer continued to work on massively successful films like Hannibal, Gladiator, The Last Samurai, Batman Begins and The Da Vinci Code.

While he's at the top of his game, Zimmer said he may switch gears one day and step into the arena of live music. In a recent interview with, Zimmer said of his future, "I got a plan. Let's see if it works out. I want to go and take 2009 off from being a film composer and just see what happens if I get together with some of the people I like playing with, see if it stands up without the movie. I want to see if I can write without a director and a screenwriter."