There are only a few musicians working in Hollywood today who deserve as much respect and fame that Hans Zimmer has earned. Hans Zimmer is a German film composer and record producer who has been dominating Hollywood with his sharp musical talent since the late 80s until now. To this date, the music maestro has provided music to more than 150 films and having done scores for acclaimed films like ‘The Gladiator’, ‘The Lion King’, ‘Inception’ and ‘The Dark Knight Trilogy’, he still continues to be at the prime of his career. Having worked with some of the greatest filmmakers in Hollywood, Hans has made movies feel epic with his score full of orchestral operatic sounds. He moved from Germany to the UK, then to the USA and brought his unique style in his music to create the mood and environment in films. He integrates electronic music with the classic orchestral arrangements and creates magic out of it. His association with many big Hollywood filmmakers, especially Christopher Nolan, the ace film director, has been a mega success. Over the course of his illustrious career, Zimmer has been conferred upon with many honours such as four Grammy Awards, One Academy Award and two Golden Globe awards. He presently works at the DreamWorks studios as the head of film music division and works in collaboration with other musicians as well to nurture them.
Childhood & Early Life
Hans Zimmer was born in Frankfurt am Main, West Germany, on 12th September 1957, to an engineer father and housewife mother. He said that his mother was a musical woman so he naturally developed a taste for music. However, once he was admitted to piano classes, he disliked it stating that he didn’t want any formal training in music. He constantly got thrown out of the schools due to the lack of concentration in the classes.
With the arrival of computer and the evolution of electronic music with that, Zimmer got hooked and started playing on that. The piano lessons he learned as a kid somehow stayed with him and he developed a fresh sound out of them. Upon gifted a piano, Zimmer spent very little time learning to play it and more in modifying it.
He was a creative kid and when his father died, he became overly depressed. Music became an essential pillar of support for him apart from his mother and hence, his love for music kept growing until he embarked into adulthood, and started taking his music career seriously.
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In the early 70s, Hans Zimmer embarked on a career in music after making a move to the UK and joined a few bands here and there, where he played mainly Keyboards and Synthesizers. Simultaneously, he worked in the advertisements to make the ends meet. In 1980, he received mild fame through an LP he did with the Buggles, titled ‘The Age of Plastic’.
A brief stint with Ultravox gained him further exposure and for the UK punk rock band ‘The Damned’, he worked on an album titled ‘The Black Album’. His first stint with film score happened during an association with Stanley Meyers, who was a prolific film composer and along with him, Zimmer developed his style of mixing orchestral music with classical sounds and worked on films like ‘Moonlighting’ and ‘Insignificance’.
After scoring for a few more films came the first turning point of his professional career, when he got the chance to provide score to the film ‘The Last Emperor’, a 1987 film which went on to receive the Academy Award for Original Score. He also composed music for the TV show ‘Going for Gold’, which he said was his first job from which he made enough money to pay his rent. In the very next year came ‘Rain Man’ that established his strong foothold in Hollywood.
Director Barry Levinson was looking for a composer for his film ‘Rain Man’. His wife had heard Zimmer’s work, so he was immediately summoned. The music of the film was a big hit, and so was the movie. Zimmer received an Academy Award nomination for his music and the film received four Oscar awards. In the film, Zimmer introduced a relatively low regarded sound, resulting from a mix of synthesizers and samplers, and carried on his style of music in his very next project titled ‘Driving Miss Daisy’.
For Ridley Scott directed film ‘Thelma and Louise’, Zimmer made alterations in his music by introducing Slide Guitar and in 1992, for the film ‘The Power of One’; he travelled to Africa to introduce himself to African choirs and drums. The things he learned there helped him greatly in bagging Disney’s mega animation film ‘The Lion King’. The film was a massive critical and commercial success and due credit was given to Zimmer for his excellent work as a musician. The film ended up roaring loud at award functions and Zimmer won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and two Grammys.
Thereafter, Zimmer worked with many acclaimed filmmakers such as Tony Scott and Terrence Malick. For latter’s film ‘The Thin Red Line’, Zimmer was asked to do the music before the shooting started. This was a new way to work and Zimmer was used to create music according to the edits and shots but somehow, he managed to record a beautiful score which was six and a half hour long.
By then, Hans Zimmer had become the ‘go-to’ guy for the biggest of Hollywood filmmakers. He continued his association with Ridley Scott, by providing score for his mega budget historical epic ‘The Gladiator’, an instant classic. His other projects in early 2000s include ‘The Last Samurai’ and ‘Madagascar’ and later, he worked on ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and ‘Angels and Demons’. For ‘The Last Samurai’, Zimmer researched extensively on understanding the subtle nuances of Japanese instruments, and ended up becoming a huge fan.
Apart from that, he forayed into the big budget action franchises with Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight’ series and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise. He led the team of composers who worked on the soundtrack of second instalment of Batman series ‘The Dark Knight’, and this one project made Zimmer a worldwide phenomenon and despite the film not being nominated for the Original Score at the Academy Awards due to some issues, this project sparked the discussion about whether he is the greatest film composer ever.
His association with Christopher Nolan continued for the ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, the last film in the cult trilogy, and out of the trilogy Nolan hired him for scoring the music for his magnum opus ‘Inception’. Nolan, who served as the executive producer of the newly established DC cinematic universe, asked Zimmer to compose the score for first two DC films ‘Man of Steel’ and ‘Batman V Superman: The Dawn of Justice’, both directed by Zack Snyder. Zimmer agreed but after composing the latter, he took retirement from superhero genre films.
Zimmer continues to work on films and TV series until now and received an Academy Award nomination for Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’. Recently, Zimmer composed the score for BBC documentary ‘Planet Earth 2’ and for the 2006 Netflix production ‘The Crown’, he composed the theme music. He also owns a music studio in California and is the head of Remote Control Productions, a music production company.
Hans Zimmer’s first marriage was to a model named Vicki Carolin. The couple had a daughter, who happens to be a successful model, Zoe Zimmer. After Hans’s marriage with Vicki ended, he started dating Suzanne Zimmer, with whom he presently lives in Los Angeles along with their three children.