November 11, 2006 by

Basil Poledouris


Categories: Hollywood, Musicians

bpoledouris.jpgBasil Konstantine Poledouris, an Emmy Award-winning film composer, died on Nov. 8 of cancer. He was 61.
Born in Kansas City, Mo., Poledouris began playing the piano when he was only 7 years old. Since modern music didn’t appeal to him, he fully expected to become a concert pianist after graduating from the University of Southern California. Instead, he studied film and music with famed composer Miklos Rozsa, and found his calling.
After college, Poledouris composed music for more than 100 educational films. But his big break came in 1978 when John Milius, an old USC classmate and surfing buddy, hired him to write the score for the movie “Big Wednesday.” His collaboration with Milius continued through four more feature films.
Over the next two decades, Poledouris composed soundtracks and orchestral scores for more than 80 feature-length movies and TV shows, including action films (“Robocop” 1 and 3, “Starship Troopers”), comedies (“Hot Shots! Part Deux,” “Mickey Blue Eyes”), romances (“The Blue Lagoon,” “For Love of the Game”), thrillers (“The Hunt for Red October,” “Breakdown”) and children’s movies (“White Fang,” “Free Willy” 1 and 2). But it was his sweeping score for the 1982 sword-and-sorcery epic, “Conan The Barbarian,” that made him a legend.
Poledouris preferred to create his scores using a pencil, paper and his battered old Steinway piano. “It’s the only way I feel connected to the music. I have attempted to write on the computer and it’s a complete bust. I keep thinking it would be quicker, easier, more fun, but alas. I need to touch the material I’m working with,” he once said.
Poledouris earned an Emmy Award for creating the score for the 1989 CBS miniseries “Lonesome Dove.” Seven years later, he was commissioned to compose the opening fanfare for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Entitled “The Tradition of the Games,” the 6-minute piece was performed by the Atlanta Symphony and a 300-voice choir.
Poledouris flew to Ubeda, Spain, last July to attend a film music conference. There he was met by hundreds of screaming fans and autograph-seekers. Despite his illness, Poledouris conducted a substantial portion of his “Conan” score, a performance he considered one of his greatest achievements.
Watch a Video Tribute to Basil Poledouris
Basil Poledouris Download Music by Basil Poledouris

2 Responses to Basil Poledouris

  1. Bob Mann

    I think Bail Poledouris’s music first came to my attention in the Blue Lagoon – a syrup-py but utterly gorgeous set of themes that perfectly matched the idyllic setting and the innocence of the children growing up there. But it was undoubtedly Conan the Barbarian that was his masterpiece: somewhat ironic given Conan is such a daft film. I have never been so moved to rush out of a cinema and buy a soundtrack album before, and the poor vinyl on that record was worn away to nothing. His appearance in the “In Memorium” slideshow at the Oscars this year was much deserved, and it is tragic that he was taken from us at such an early age, when he might have become an elder statesman of the industry of the likes of Williams and Godlsmith. He will be sadly missed by this soundtrack collector.

  2. Ann Neal

    I went to high school with (Bill). I checked this blog to find out if he had any works in progress. I was shocked to learn of his death. He was such a genius. I remember the assemblies at Garden Grove High School and I remember thinking that he would be famous some day.

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