You might know the name, you might know the music, but just who is Hans Zimmer? Where did he come from? What’s he best known for? Here’s everything you need to know about the undisputed King of Hollywood film music.
When and where was Hans Zimmer born?
Born in Frankfurt in 1957, Zimmer attended boarding school in Switzerland before moving to England in his teens. His middle name is... Florian!
Is Hans Zimmer self-taught?
Yes! Though he received some piano tuition as a child, his natural curiosity and eagerness to experiment saw him abandon formal training; he is self-taught.
What instruments does Hans Zimmer play?
Zimmer is a multi-instrumentalist, at home with a guitar in his hands, or at the keyboard of a piano or synthesiser. Electronic music-making has formed a large part of Zimmer’s career, from his own youthful interest in its burgeoning technological possibilities to breaking new ground himself in its use in film music.
How did Hans Zimmer's music career start?
It was at the keyboard where Hans Zimmer began his professional life as a musician, performing in bands in the late 1970s and into the ’80s. These include London-based band The Buggles, with whom Zimmer performed on their hit ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’. Writing, performing and producing were his day-to-day, including penning jingles for adverts and the occasional TV theme (who remembers his theme song for the quiz show, Going for Gold?).
What were Hans Zimmer's first film scores?
Zimmer found a mentor and business partner in the film composer Stanley Myers. They set up a studio in London and worked together on projects. Some of Zimmers earliest credits at this time include the Channel Four film My Beautiful Launderette, The Fruit Machine and the mini-series First Born. His sound drew the attention of producers and directors, and it wasn’t long before Hollywood came knocking, quite literally.
What took Hans Zimmer to Hollywood?
Director Barry Levinson sought Zimmer out, knocked on his studio door one evening and invited him to score Rain Man in the US. It was an offer the composer couldn’t refuse, and so he found himself composing music for what would become one of the hit movies of the year. He also received his first ever Oscar nomination for his efforts. Zimmer never looked back, going on to score Ridley Scott’s Black Rain and the Oscar-winning drama, Driving Miss Daisy.
What are Hans Zimmer’s most famous film scores?
Zimmer has written music for some of the most successful films and franchises in recent years, bringing to them his inate dramatic sensibility and an envelope-pushing innovative flair. Gladiator will be familiar to millions, not to mention his music for the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Then there’s The Dark Knight, Inception and even The Lion King…
Wait, did Hans Zimmer really score The Lion King?!
That’s right, while Elton John and Tim Rice wrote the songs, it was Zimmer who provided the emotional heart of the film’s soundtrack. He even won an Oscar for it. It was the first in a long line of animated features Zimmer would compose music for, from The Prince of Egypt to Kung Fu Panda.
How many Oscars does Hans Zimmer have?
Just the one, actually, for The Lion King. He has been nominated a further ten times, though, most recently for 2017’s Dunkirk.
- Who has won the most Oscars for film music?
- Winners of Oscars for Best Original Score: all the nominated soundtracks from the history of the Academy Awards
What do his children do?
Hans’s daughter Zoe is an artist and photographer, while his son, Jake, has followed in his footsteps and is embarking on a career as a film composer. He has another younger son and daughter, Max and Brigitte.
What are the best Hans Zimmer recordings…?
The Lion King (Walt Disney Records/The Legacy Collection)
Gladiator – Music from the Motion Picture (Decca)
The World of Hans Zimmer (Sony Classical)
Hans Zimmer – Live in Prague (DVD/Blu-ray)
We named Hans Zimmer one of the greatest film composers ever
Michael is the Reviews Editor of BBC Music Magazine. He was previously a freelance film music journalist and spent 15 years at St George's Bristol. Michael specialises in film and television music and was the Editor of MusicfromtheMovies.com. He has written for the BBC Proms, BBC Concert Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Albert Hall, Hollywood in Vienna and Silva Screen Records.