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A birthday fanfare for Sandy

Published Saturday, December 10, 2011 @ 12:02 AM EST
Dec 10 2011

Alexander (Sandy) Courage, who wrote the enduring, eight-note Fanfare for the Starship Enterprise and the theme to the television series Star Trek, was born on December 10, 1919 in Philadelphia. He died May 15, 2008 in Pacific Palisades, California. He was 88.

Fanfare, written in 1965 for the first of two Star Trek pilots, was heard throughout the three original seasons of the show, has been reprised in all of the Trek feature films and several of the TV series, and may be the single best-known fanfare in the world. When told by writer Jon Burlingame that more people knew his Trek flourish than Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, "Courage- in his typically self-deprecating fashion- said that must surely be an exaggeration," Burlingame reported.

Courage was not the first choice to write the Star Trek theme. Trek creator Gene Roddenberry initially approached Jerry Goldsmith with the assignment. Goldsmith declined because of other commitments, and recommended Courage. Much later, Courage did the orchestrations for Goldsmith's scores for Star Trek- First Contact and Star Trek- Insurrection.

In addition to the fanfare, the series theme and the scores for the two pilot episodes ("The Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before"), Courage composed the music for four episodes: "The Man Trap" and "The Naked Time" in the series' first season, and "The Enterprise Incident" and "Plato's Stepchildren" in the third. However, themes from first season score were frequently "tracked" in other episodes.

Jeff Bond of TrekMovie.com ended his comprehensive article on Courage with a quote by Michael Giacchino, who scored J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot:

"... Alexander Courage is responsible for the musical heart to the world of Star Trek. I feel that if you were to strip away everything, bit by bit, in order of importance, the last thing you would be holding in your hands would be the sheet music for the opening fanfare to the Star Trek main theme. To me, that small piece of music is and always shall be Star Trek."

Categories: Music, Star Trek, Video, YouTube


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