Dimitri Tiomkin

One of Hollywood’s greatest film music masters, Dimitri Tiomkin (1894–1979) is Russian-born and brought up in the Russian music tradition. He studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatory with Alexander Glazunov, and after the Russian Revolution he became a student of Ferruccio Busoni in Berlin. Later, he moved to Paris where he did the European premiere of Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F. His Hollywood big break came in 1937 with the film, Lost Horizon. During the following four decades, Tiomkin successfully covered the entire spectrum of film genres – from film noire to comedy, from Western to melodrama. His remarkable career was garnished by 22 Academy Award nominations and four Academy Awards for the films, High Noon (original score and original song), The High and the Mighty, and The Old Man and the Sea.
Tiomkin’s artistic talent is perhaps most vividly demonstrated in the music to the film High Noon (1952). Thematic material from the famous ballade “Do Not Forsake Me”, whose lyrics were provided by Ned Washington is present throughout the film and is seemingly integral to the film plot. The film featuring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly was not particularly successful upon its release. Tiomkin, however, decided to release the title song as a single, performed by Frankie Laine. The song became an instant hit and a few months later the film producers rereleased the film, which garnered tremendous popularity precisely because of its score.
Towards the end of his career, Dimitri Tiomkin wrote the music to John Sturges’s film, The Old Man and the Sea (1958), based on Hemingway’s novel. With this remarkable score, Tiomkin most successfully showcases his Russian heritage and Russian music school traditions. In it, the composer created a fully dimensional orchestral palette, rich in harmony and abundant in colour, where one can hear the boisterous sea waves crashing against the shore.

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