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Overview for Howard Shore
Howard Shore

Howard Shore



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Also Known As: Howard Leslie Shore Died:
Born: October 18, 1946 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Toronto, Ontario, CA Profession: Music ... composer orchestrator music director conductor music producer music coordinator


Howard Shore always made sure he had an emotional response to each film before he agreed to write a score for it. It was this type of passion for music and connecting it to the audience that made the Canadian one of the most respected and honored composers in the film industry, with over 100 films to his credit. He began as the music director for "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) and went on to compose several of the most memorable movie scores, including Oscar Best Picture winners "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991) and "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (2003). Shore won his first Academy Award, along with a Grammy award, for his score of "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" (2001), a landmark achievement not only for the classically trained and rock-and-roll-inspired composer, but also for the history of Hollywood.

Howard Leslie Shore was born on Oct. 18, 1946 in Toronto, Ontario. He possessed many talents growing up including writing and acting, but it was his love for music that drove him most, taking him to Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA for his higher education. Shore's professional music career, however, started when he became a founding member of the Canadian band Lighthouse, a touring group that held over 1,000 performances between 1969 and 1972, including opening slots for rock and roll legends and counterculture icons Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jefferson Airplane.

After four years of touring with Lighthouse, Shore landed a job as musical director and saxophonist for "Saturday Night Live," the weekly sketch comedy series created by Lorne Michaels; the show which also introduced the world to comic geniuses such as John Belushi, Steve Martin and Gilda Radner. The composer met Michaels at Camp Timberlane in Ontario growing up, and they went on to become camp counselors, then collaborators. Shore often joined in on the fun, appearing several times in the show's musical comic vignettes, as part of "Howard Shore and his All Nurse Band," and also helping Belushi and Dan Aykroyd form their legendary Blues Brothers band, which started as an audience warm-up act.

Shore's partnership with "S.N.L." went on until 1980. Around the same time, the musician started collaborating with visionary filmmaker David Cronenberg, who he looked to as sort of an older brother figure. The partnership with his fellow Canadian was Shore's foray into composing for the big screen. The music he composed reflected the dark and moody feel of the auteur's films, and the duo would continue working for many years. As of 2008, Shore had created music for a dozen groundbreaking Cronenberg movies, including "Videodrome" (1982), "The Fly" (1986), "Dead Ringers" (1988) and "A History of Violence" (2005).

Another frequent Shore collaborator was director Mike Nichols, whom he worked with on "Gilda Live," a 1980 concert film that starred "S.N.L." alum Radner. Shore also provided heart wrenching and powerful scores for the films "Silkwood" (1983) and "Postcards from the Edge" (1990), both directed by Nichols. What set the composer apart from the rest of the pack was his ability to take on lighthearted films as well, while still invoking a reaction and connection from moviegoers. His versatility and vision resulted in unforgettable music for comedies - from the Tom Hanks age switch flick "Big" (1988) to the Robin Williams' gender-bending blockbuster "Mrs. Doubtfire" (1993).

Shore, married to Elizabeth Cotnoir and father of May Shore, was a favorite amongst Hollywood's biggest directors. The list of "Who's Who" filmmakers he worked with was truly impressive. Everyone from Jonathan Demme ("The Silence of the Lambs" and "Philadelphia," 1993) to David Fincher ("Seven," 1995) to Tinseltown's godfather Martin Scorsese ("The Aviator," 2004 and "The Departed," 2006) all benefited greatly from the atmosphere which Shore's music created. It was as if the former "S.N.L." musical director had the Midas touch when it came to scoring films, but he was always first to say it was more about feeling a connection to every project he undertook. His compositions started as improvisations that would take days, sometimes weeks, to develop into an orchestrated piece of music.

In 2001, Shore's biggest and most enduring collaboration began when he developed the score for director Peter Jackson's epic "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. It was unlike anything he had ever done, much bigger in scope and budget than anything he ever did during his early years with Cronenberg. Shore brought in a musical crew of 200 - including a full symphony orchestra, an adult chorus, a boys' choir, and vocalists. He not only wanted to remain faithful to Jackson's vision, but to the books' author J.R.R. Tolkien as well, constantly studying and researching the text while he composed the music. The end result was a masterpiece that magnificently connected the three films, and earned Shore his first Oscar for "The Fellowship of the Ring."

Minor controversy erupted a year after Shore's Oscar win when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences disallowed film scores which contained work from previous films to be eligible for a nomination, including "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" (2002). The rule was changed back to its original position a year later due to opposition from Academy members and the general public. He won two more Oscars for "Return of the King," as well as his third and fourth Grammys (his second was for "The Two Towers"). All three soundtracks were also commercial hits, having sold more than six million copies worldwide.

Even though classical music was the prominent genre represented in his "LOTR" work, Shore experimented with a variety of musical styles. He was one of the first composers to adopt electronic technology in his work. He dabbled in rock 'n' roll, and the blues with his work during and after "S.N.L." He also wrote an opera based on "The Fly" that premiered in 2008, commissioned by Theatre du Chatelet in Paris and Los Angeles, with a libretto by David Henry Hwang and directed by none other than one of Shore's biggest fans (and frequent collaborator), David Cronenberg. Adding further to his consistent successes, Shore was nominated for a Golden Globe for his score for the period romance, "Eastern Promises" (2007).

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