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Michael Kamen (April 15, 1948 – November 18, 2003) was an Americanmarker composer (especially of film scores), orchestral arranger, orchestral conductor, song writer, and session musician.


Kamen was born in New York Citymarker, USAmarker. He was the second of four sons of a left-wing Jewish dentist and his teacher wife and studied at the New York High School of Music & Art in New York, then at Juilliard's School for Music Dance and Dramamarker in New York. While in high school, he met and became friends with Martin Fulterman, later known as "Mark Snow," who composed the theme music for The X-Files among other projects. He was also a classmate and friend of Janis Ian. While studying the oboe, he formed a rock classical fusion band called New York Rock & Roll Ensemble, together with classmates Snow and Dorian Rudnytsky. It was on the first of Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts with the New York Philharmonic. Martin Fulterman/Mark Snow was also a member. The group would perform rock music, dressed in tuxedos. In the middle of the concert, Martin and Michael would play on oboe duet. The group backed up Janis Ian in a concert at Alice Tully Hall in the Fall of 1967.

Early work

Kamen's early work centered on ballets, thirteen in all, then expanding into Hollywood by writing the score for The Next Man in 1976, then into pop and rock arranging, collaborating with Pink Floyd on their album, The Wall. One of his songs, "Sing Lady Sing", was renamed "Them Changes" and parlayed into a hit by Buddy Miles.

Career in popular music

Kamen became a highly-sought arranger in the realms of pop and rock music. In Great Britain he was among a small, illustrious group of arrangers whose names constantly appeared on popular releases by major artists. His contemporaries in this field included Academy Award winner Anne Dudley, Richard Niles, and Nick Ingman. His successes include his work with Pink Floyd, David Gilmour and Roger Waters (he is one of the few people to have been invited to work with both former Pink Floyd members, after their acrimonious split), as well as Queen (orchestration on Who Wants To Live Forever), Eric Clapton, Roger Daltrey, Aerosmith, Tom Petty, David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, Eurythmics, Queensrÿche, Rush, Metallica (on their live album, S&M), Def Leppard, Herbie Hancock, The Cranberries, Bryan Adams, Jim Croce, Sting, and Kate Bush. For Bush, Kamen delivered an orchestral backing for "Moments of Pleasure" from The Red Shoes album, substantially building upon a simple piano theme Bush had composed. In this instance, and many others, he conducted the orchestra personally for the recording. In 1984, Kamen had similarly heightened the impact of a pop recording for the Eurythmics "Here Comes the Rain Again", that score relying as much on his compositional skills as his arranging talents. Five years later, he did the music for For Queen and Country.

In 1990, Kamen joined many other guests for Roger Waters' massive performance of The Wall in Berlinmarker and headed the National Philharmonic Orchestra during the 24 Nights sessions with Eric Clapton the following year.

Lenny Kravitz recorded a cover of "Fields of Joy" on his 1991 CD Mama Said that Michael co-wrote with Hal Fredricks.

In 2002, he was part of the Concert for George as string conductor.

Kamen co-wrote Bryan Adams' ballad " I Do It for You" for the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. The song would be the number one song of that year, worldwide.

Other works

Kamen wrote eleven ballets, a saxophone concerto and a guitar concerto (with Japanese guitar-wizard Tomoyasu Hotei as a soloist). He also provided scores for the films such as The Dead Zone, For Queen and Country, Polyester, Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Highlander, X-Men, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Licence to Kill, the Lethal Weapon series, the first three films of the Die Hard series, Mr. Holland's Opus, The Iron Giant, Splitting Heirs, Frequency, and many others. To this day the overture from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is used by Morgan Creek Productions as their identifying theme, while New Line's corresponding theme is the opening segment of a track from Highlander. He also scored both the From the Earth to the Moon and Band of Brothers series on HBO. The trailer for the 2008 Disney/Pixar release WALL-E featured Kamen's 'Central Services / The Office' from his Brazil 1985 OST.

In television, his best known work was on the 1985 BBC Television serial Edge of Darkness, on which he collaborated with Eric Clapton to write the score. The pair were awarded with a British Academy Television Award for Best Original Television Music for their work and performed the main movie theme with the National Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hallmarker of Londonmarker in 1990 and 1991. In 1994, Kamen conducted an orchestration of The Who's music for Roger Daltrey's 50th birthday concert series entitled Celebration: The Music of Pete Townshend and The Who which was subsequently released on CD and DVD. He also worked with heavy metal band Metallica, on a two day concert that was held in Berkeley, Californiamarker, with the San Francisco Symphony. The S&M album debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200, won a Grammy for the "Best Rock Instrumental Performance" in 2000 and went multi-platinum in 2001.

Kamen was nominated for two Academy Awards and won three Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes, two Ivor Novello Awards, an Annie Award and an Emmy.

Later years

His involvement with Mr. Holland's Opus, a film about a frustrated composer who finds fulfillment as a high school music teacher, led Kamen to create The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation in 1996. The foundation supports music education through the donation of new and refurbished musical instruments to underserved school and community music programs and individual students in the United States. In 2005 the foundation created an emergency fund for schools and students affected by Hurricane Katrina.

In 1999, Michael Kamen and the San Francisco Symphony constructed and performed a concert with Metallica. This concert was released as a live album on DVD, VHS and CD, under the title S&M (an acronym for "Symphony and Metallica").

In 2002, Kamen, along with Julian Lloyd Webber, Dame Evelyn Glennie, and Sir James Galway launched the Music Education Consortium in the UK. The consortium's effortsled to the injection of £332 million for music-education in the UK.

Though diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1997, Kamen died in Londonmarker from a heart attack in 2003, at the age of 55. His last recorded work appeared on Bryan Adams's album Room Service where he played the oboe and wrote the orchestration to "I Was Only Dreamin'". Kamen had also completed the charts for accompaniment to two songs on Kate Bush's album Aerial, which was released in November 2005. Some of Bush's fans, pleased by Kamen's scoring of "Moments of Pleasure" from Bush's 1993 album The Red Shoes, expressed gratitude when it became known that the work had been finished.

In 2004, when Annie Lennox accepted the Academy Award for Best Original Song (her composition "Into the West" from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King), she dedicated her achievement to the memory of her dear friend Kamen.

The 2004 movie "The First Daughter" was dedicated to the memory of Michael Kamen.

Michael Kamen was survived by his wife, Sandra Keenan-Kamen, and by his daughters, Sasha and Zoe.


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