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The Composer Hans Zimmer

Updated on January 13, 2015

Composer Hans Zimmer

He writes music that makes us thrilled to be alive.
He writes music that makes us thrilled to be alive. | Source

"I write film music. I don't do brain surgery. I don't cure cancer. I just write a little bit of film music. If something happened where I couldn't write music anymore, it would kill me. It's not just a job, it's not just a hobby. It's why I get up in the morning." Hans Zimmer

Hans Zimmer has become one of the world's most talented and prolific film-score composers of all time. You have heard his music over and over again and may not have known his name. His music has moved us to every emotion one can feel. He has made us laugh, cry, cheer, dance, embrace, ponder and reflect on the sacredness, the mystery, the sorrow and joy of life. The composer accomplishes what no actor or actress can do on their own. He gives the film its life, its breath, its movement; its memory lingering in our hearts and minds long after the movie is over.

Zimmer was born in Frankfurt, Germany, September 12, 1957. He grew up with no television and played piano endlessly, sometimes pounding on it just to make noise. He lost his father at the tender age of 6. His family introduced him to the music of Beethoven, Mozart, Bach. "I came from one of those German families that were very snobbish and structured. Wagner and Lizst were completely out." He shunned formal lessons and is self taught and learned later from collaborating with other professionals and was mentored by Stanley Myers during his early career.

He is the father of integrating the electronic and traditional orchestral arrangements. He learned orchestra while working in London with Stanley Myers, an accomplished composer (The Deer Hunter). Zimmer credits much of his talent and success to those early years while assisting Myers.

While in London, Zimmer played keyboards/synthesizer in the Buggles, who became famous for their song and video,"Video Killed the Radio Star", which premiered as MTV's opening video.

"On each note you hear the breath, you hear the exhale." Hans Zimmer - Interstellar

Rain Man, The Thin Red Line, Gladiator

Zimmer worked on a few short films in London before moving to America. Upon moving to LA, he was asked to write the score for Rain Man and it was his first Oscar nomination for Best Original Score, 1988. The movie did receive the Oscar for Best Picture. The following year, Driving Miss Daisy, of which he composed the score, won the Oscar for Best Picture. He has an extensive list of movies to his credit and I will include a partial list here along with a link to his complete discography. His first GRAMMY and Golden Globe win was in 1994 with The Lion King. Zimmer received his first Oscar win for best original score with Crimson Tide in 1995. His 100th film score was The Last Samurai, which is one of the most beautiful, compelling film scores he has composed.

"A great soundtrack is about communicating with the audience."

Hans Zimmer Scoring The Dark Knight

Two of my favorites are A Thin Red Line (1998) and Gladiator (2000). He worked two years on A Thin Red Line and felt the music truly supported the film. The song, "Journey to the Line" is hauntingly beautiful and during an interview Zimmer confessed to having written it while angry because of a disagreement with the director. The song was then used in the trailer for Pearl Harbor. It is a must see film if you've never seen it or heard the soundtrack. It is about the battle of Guadalcanal during WWll. My father served there and I believe that's also why the movie is so special to me. He would tell stories of this significant battle and how it changed the course of the war.

The film score for Gladiator is so powerful that the story grabs the inside of your heart and pumps every ounce of humanity throughout your bloodstream. You feel everything. He collaborated with Lisa Gerrard who also contributed to the writing score. He commented on how her influence greatly affected the writing process.

"It's a very German intellect at work. Lisa gives it those moments of feminine looseness. Sometimes when she was in the room, I would write differently because her presence and influence were there."

Hans Zimmer speaking about Lisa Gerrard

Hans Zimmer Inside His Remote Control Studio

Where some of  the Zimmer magic takes
Where some of the Zimmer magic takes

Passion for Film Composing

Hans Zimmer is passionate concerning the film composing craft. He believes that mentoring is essential in order for younger composers to become better craftsman. "When I came to America, that sense of apprenticeship didn't really exist. In order for something to survive there needs to be something biting at it's heels. It needs to be young and feisty." Being a man of action, he co-founded Media Ventures which then split and became Remote Control which has produced some of the film industry's most popular movie scores, Pirates of the Caribbean, Kung Fu Panda, Iron Man, Gladiator, Mission Impossible ll, The Last Samurai, Batman Begins, Transformers, Hancock, Kingdom of Heaven, The Dark Knight, Madagascar, Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons. Composers collaborate and work together in this production facility with two state of the art mixing studios,a sound studio and recording space with a dozen separate composing rooms.

Do yourself a favor and sit back and enjoy the sheer genius of one of our most exceptional film composers in the film industry. If you're into video games, look for Hans Zimmer's first video game soundtrack on Modern Wafare 2. Below I have listed some of his greatest work and it in no way is a comprehensive list of his discography, but will give you an idea of how much he has influenced our love of some of the biggest box office wonders.

Hans Zimmer - Making of Interstellar Soundtrack

Interstellar Soundtrack

Hans Zimmer Interview In His Studio

Hans Zimmer 2014 Soundtracks


Son of God

Winter's Tale

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Divergent (Executive Score Producer)

Transformers: Age of Extinction (composer- additional music)

Interstellar (composer- theme music)

Some of Hans Zimmer's Film Scores

  • The Last Emperor-1987
  • Days of Thunder-1990
  • Thelma & Louise-1991
  • The Lion King-1994
  • Crimson Tide-1995
  • The Preacher's Wife-1996
  • Broken Arrow-1996
  • The Rock-1996
  • The Peacemaker-1997
  • As Good As It Gets-1997
  • Smilla's Sense of Snow-1997
  • The Thin Red Line-1998
  • The Prince of Egypt-1998
  • Gladiator-2000
  • Pearl Harbor-2001
  • Backdraft-2001
  • Hannibal-2001
  • Black Hawk Down-2001
  • The Ring-2002
  • The Last Samurai-2003
  • Matchstick Men-2003
  • Somethings Gotta Give-2003
  • Lauras Stern-2004
  • Shark Tale-2004
  • Spanglish-2004
  • King Arthur-2004
  • The Weather Man-2005
  • Madagascar-2005
  • Batman Begins-2005
  • The DaVinci Code-2007
  • Pirates of the Caribbean-2007
  • The Simpsons Movie-2007
  • Kung Fu Panda-2008
  • Madagascar- Escape 2 Africa-2008
  • The Dark Knight-2008
  • Angels and Demons-2009
  • Sherlock Holmes-2010
  • The Pacific (tv)-2010
  • Inception-2010
  • Rango- 2011
  • Crysis 2 (video game) - 2011
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - 2011
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 - 2011
  • Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (June 2012)
  • The Dark Knight Rises (July 2012)
  • Aurora (2012)
  • Hansel & Gretel - Witch Hunters (2013)
  • The Bible (TV Series) (2013)
  • The Lone Ranger (2013)
  • Rush (2013)
  • Man of Steel (2013)

Interstellar - Building A Black Hole

What are your favorite Hans Zimmer filmscores?

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    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Tampa Bay

      We're certainly entitled to our opinions. I'm a fan, especially of his earlier work. I think the soundtracks to Gladiator and Inception are brilliant. I don't think I've ever heard anyone come out of a Hans Zimmer movie and say the soundtrack was bad. Some are better than others, yes. I don't think your hope will be true, as he is one of the top composers in our current day. I've seen some great reviews on the Man of Steel score. Can I ask what was the last movie you saw of which he scored? I appreciate your comment and thank you for taking the time to leave one.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I can honestly say this man has destroyed more movies than any other composer of all time. When you leave a movie with good music you feel moved and when you think of that movie you always think of the music. When you leave a movie with his music you leave disappointed, A decent enough movie but a damp squid because not once did the score get your heart racing or move you. 2 weeks later you can barely remember what happened in the movie. That is totally down to boring repetitive music scores. The difference between a great movie and an okay movie is usually the score. I have never watched one of his movies where I didn't wish I could have my time and my money back. Personally I hope he never gets to score a big budget movie again because the man has no talent and no taste whatsoever $6.

    • PaddyMac1984 profile image

      Patrick McCormack 

      9 years ago from Nottingham, England

      Nice Hub. Nice to read about Hans Zimmer, a very very taleneted guy. Thanks for the Hub.

    • Natashalh profile image


      9 years ago from Hawaii

      Hans Zimmer is my favorite composer today. I own several of his movie soundtracks and can tell instantly when I hear a piece if he wrote it because of his characteristic style.

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Tampa Bay

      jkenny, Thanks for reading. His Gladiator score will always remain one of the grand filmscores. I think he composed a soundtrack that embraces both the power of Rome and the afterlife. Lisa Gerrard certainly helped give the emotive, ethereal feel to the score.

      Yes, John Williams has written many of our favorite filmscores, along with Howard Shore (Lord of the Rings).

      I'm glad you enjoyed the hub!

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Tampa Bay

      Hi John, I thought that was interesting also, his remark about Wagner and Lizst. I think it's always fascinating to learn about a great composer's background and introduction to music. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      phdast7, Thanks! Isn't it amazing the amount of work he has produced? And I only have listed some of his work! My sons and I are huge composer fans/followers and we can usually tell from the very first sounds if Zimmer composed the score. I also greatly admire that he has brought the European practice of apprenticeship to his craft and works closely with other composers. I linked this hub to your Gladiator hub! Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • JKenny profile image

      James Kenny 

      9 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Great hub, rebakah. I remember the score he did for Gladiator and it was absolutely awesome, particularly the 'Rome vs. Carthage' scene in the colosseum and the 'Now we are Free' piece at the end. For me, he and John Williams (Star Wars) are the best film composers of all time.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      9 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      hi rebekah - absolutely terrific hub. I have loved Zimmer's music for a long time, but I had no idea how many film soundtracks he had actually done! And so many of them are among my favorite films (guess I am just woefully bad at paying attention to information about who directed a film, wrote the script or composed the music - I will have to start paying more attention). Great Hub. SHARING

    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 

      9 years ago from Winter Haven, FL

      Hi rebekah, interesting hub-voted up

      This composer has to be the first German individual who is not proud of Wagner...LOL

      Take care


    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Tampa Bay

      Fullerman, Thanks for reading. He's definitely one of the top film composers of all time. His passion for his craft is astounding. I also loved the Inception score.

      @ahostagesituation, thanks for stopping by and reading! I had a great time while putting this hub together. I'm glad you enjoyed it and that it gave you some ideas. A war photographer sounds like a great subject for a hub.

      #Musiconomy, Thanks so much for reading. I'm thrilled that this hub gave you more insight and background about one of our great film score composers. Gladiator is pure inspiration and such an amazing collaboration with Lisa Gerrard. Pure Zimmer magic, to be sure. Don't give up on your dream, it can happen!

    • TheMusiconomy profile image


      10 years ago from New York City

      Great hub Rebekah. Gladiator is one of my favorite soundtracks ever! It's a huge influence on me personally and musically. My dream is to compose for a big blockbuster film. I didn't know much about Zimmer's story until now. Very cool.

    • ahostagesituation profile image

      Mrs Roussou 

      10 years ago

      He is great, and this is an awesome tribute to his work. I was thinking of working on a hub on a war photographer I like, James Nachtwey and your hub has given me some things to think about in putting it together. Thanks for your hard work. He's brilliant!

    • Fullerman5000 profile image


      10 years ago from Louisiana, USA

      Great hub. Such a great film composer. He is my favorite. Inception blew my mind, and some of his best work. But i will always love Gladiator and The Rock.

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thanks peter and sandy!

      @thanks bryrock for reading. I agree with The Last Samurai as being one of his best. It is beautiful, beautiful music. I'm curious. Who is your favorite composer?

    • bryrock profile image


      11 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Great post. Hans Zimmer ranks as my second favorite film score composer. The Last Samurai is one of my all time favorites.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      11 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Great tribute to Hans Zimmer.

    • PeterPatton profile image


      11 years ago

      I was making a list a year or two ago of composers I liked, and Zimmer was on there. Thanks for the great info on him!

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thanks Dobson, absolutely my pleasure to showcase this fine musical genuis! thanks for reading, come back any time you're in the mood for some Zimmer inspiration. :)

    • Dobson profile image


      11 years ago from Virginia

      I love the simplicity of the Dark Knight film score, with only a handful of notes. It was with this score that I got to know who Hans Zimmer is. Thanks for the publicity for this fine music genius!

    • betherann profile image

      Beth Morey 

      11 years ago from Montana

      It's great to see a film composer getting some well-deserved publicity. Gladiator has one of my favorite scores.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Gosh one of the best of the best

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Tampa Bay

      Chad, thanks for commenting. That is one I have not seen or heard (at least I don't recognize by name). I will definitely give a listen. I respect HZ so much for what he is able to give to his listeners, amazing. :)

    • Chad A Taylor profile image

      Chad Taylor 

      11 years ago from Somewhere in Seattle...

      Another one to add and my favoriteis the soundtrack to the animated masterpiece: "Spirit Stallion of the Cimmaron" compsed by Hans and sung by Bryan Adams. A must have!

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from Tampa Bay

      very much so, parts of it make me cry. I played it today while doing some work around the house and it amazed me with its power, his music is a language so beautiful. thanks for commenting Glen.

    • darkside profile image


      12 years ago from Australia

      The Gladiator theme is a particularly moving piece.

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from Tampa Bay

      Thanks Daniel, I learned so much while researching his life and career and I was fascinated by his bringing the more European concept of apprenticeship/mentoring to Hollywood.

      He has helped younger composers and still very much collaborates with others. We are fortunate to experience his brilliance in our lifetime.

    • Daniel Carter profile image

      Daniel Carter 

      12 years ago from Salt Lake City, Utah

      Excellent hub! Hans Zimmer is by far my favorite film composer. He has some ground breaking work, as well as ground breaking ways of mentoring and collaborating. So glad you brought that out in this hub. Looking forward to more great reads!

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thanks time spiral, I also love the Gladiator theme, there are parts of it and also DaVinci Code, Chevaliers De Sangreal, that affect me immediately when I hear the music. thanks for stopping in.

    • Time Spiral profile image

      Time Spiral 

      12 years ago from Florida

      Excellent Hub. Hans Zimmer is a powerful influence. I remember when my great friend showed up one day with the Gladiator soundtrack. "Hey, man, I think you should listen to this. It sounds like something you would like."

      Naturally, I listened. One of the most dramatic action tracks on the soundtrack, The Barbarian Horde, captivated me in a way music had not done in a long time - especially for an instrumental.

      This article is an awesome read for Zimmer fans, and I imagine is a big eye opener for fans who didn't know they were fans.

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thanks misthaven, I hear some of his music and it sends chills all through me, there's amazing power in his composition. In one of his interviews he said that the movie is constantly in his mind when working on a score. I loved learning more about him!

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      Hans Zimmer is one of my favorite composers of all time. Of course, it's a toss up between him and Eric Serra, but his work is amazing.


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