Dimitri Tiomkin – film score composer for High Noon and many others

It’s hard to argue there is a more awarded film score composer than Tiomkin.  Sure there is John Williams of Star Wars fame but for my money, it’s Tiomkin.

During the 1950s he was the highest paid film composer, composing for nearly a picture each month, achieving his greatest fame during the 1950s and 1960s. Between 1948 and 1958, his “golden decade,” he composed 57 film scores. During the single year of 1952, he composed 9 film scores, including High Noon, for which he won two Academy Awards. In the same decade, he won two more Oscars and his film scores were nominated nine times. Beginning with Lost Horizon in 1937, through his retirement from films over four decades later in 1979, and up until modern times, he is recognized as being the only Russian to have become a Hollywood film composer. Other Russian-born composers, such as Irving Berlin wrote their scores for Broadway plays, many of which were later adapted to film.

Tiomkin was the first film score composer to write both the title theme song and the score. That technique was exemplified in many of his westerns, including High Noon and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, where the main theme song became a common thread running through the entire film.

He was known to use “source music” in his scores, which some experts claim were often based on Russian folk songs. Much of his film music, especially for westerns, was used to create an atmosphere of “broad, sweeping landscapes,” with a prominent use of chorus. During a TV interview, he credited his love of the European classic composers along with his ability to adapt American folk music styles to creating grand American theme music.

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