Michael Kamen (1948-2003)

Born April 15, 1948 - New York City.
With influences ranging from Beethoven to the Beatles and collaborations with everyone from Bob Dylan to Metallica, there are few musicians that display such remarkable diversity as Oscar-nominated composer and conductor Michael Kamen. Michael KamenMichael Kamen's scores for such popular action films as "Die Hard", "Lethal Weapon", and "X-Men" set something of a standard for high-octane thrills, but Michael Kamen could also switch gears to provide tender melodies for such movies as "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" and "Don Juan DeMarco" (both of which earned Oscar nods for the longtime composer).
The New York native's talent for music was evident from his early days, with Michael Kamen's attendance at New York City's "High School of Music and Art" offering the perfect environment in which to nourish his skills. It was there that teachers first became aware of how diverse Michael Kamen's talents truly were.
Though there were few students who were equally adept at classical and bluegrass, the emerging composer's masterful handing of various musical genres certainly set him apart from the pack.
Upon graduation, Michael Kamen continued to hone his skills by studying the oboe at New York's famed "Juilliard School".
It was there that Michael Kamen and a group of fellow students formed the rock-classical fusion group "New York Rock & Roll Ensemble" - whose performance on Leonard Bernstein's (the man who actually introduced Michael Kamen to symphonic composition and arrangement) first "Young People's Concert" with the New York Philharmonic offered an enticing early glimpse at Michael Kamen's talent.
The group's work on the music for the 1971 "electric Western" Zachariah even opened the door to Hollywood for the emerging composer.
In the years that followed, Michael Kamen's work was increasingly geared toward ballet, with his work on the 1976 feature.
The Next Man moving ever closer to Hollywood than previously expected. That trajectory continued when Michael Kamen collaborated with legendary rock band "Pink Floyd" on their groundbreaking album "The Wall", and in the following years, his celluloid credits continued to grow, with work on such features as "Polyester", "The Dead Zone", and "Brazil" serving to increase his profile in the world of film.
Michael Kamen's adrenalized score for the 1987 action blockbuster "Lethal Weapon" - as well as his equally pulse-pounding score for the following year's "Die Hard" (and the sequels for both films) - earned him something of a reputation as an "action composer".
Michael Kamen's touching ballad "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" (performed by pop star Bryan Adams) from the 1991 feature Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves went to number one on the charts, with Kamen and Adams finding later success with the song "Have You Every Really Loved a Woman" from "Don Juan DeMarco".
Both songs were nominated for Academy Awards, and though the Oscar would ultimately elude him, Michael Kamen took home numerous BMI Film and Television awards for his work and won a Grammy for "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You".
Michael Kamen was increasingly busy in Hollywood throughout the 1990s; his compositions for such features as "Mr. Holland's Opus", "The Iron Giant", "Frequency", and "X-Men" added the sort of cinematic texture and dimension that few composers could offer.
Michael Kamen's work on "Mr. Holland's Opus", in particular, even resulted in Michael Kamen founding the "Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation" - an organization dedicated to supporting music education and providing instruments to students in under-supported schools.
Michael Kamen continued to remain active outside of the film world as well, and side projects included work with such artists as Sting and Eric Clapton, as well as groundbreaking work on the multi-platinum "Metallica" album "S&M", a collection of experimental metal/orchestral arrangements.
Later film work included scores for the acclaimed HBO series "Band of Brothers", the Kevin Costner "Western Open Range", and the 2004 teen comedy "First Daughter".
Sadly, the world of film lost a notable contributor when, in mid-November of 2003, the talented composer died of a sudden heart attack in his London home.

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