The Genius of Alexander Courage

Posted by Michael Pinto on May 31, 2008 in Star Trek |

The music of Alexander Courage set the mood for every Star Trek TV series and movie to come — the tone is clearly that of a swashbuckling naval adventure set in the stars. This is amazing when you think about the fact that that approach was so out of style by the 60s, and yet Courage manages to reinvent it. And if I do say so, the music holds up rather well — it doesn’t feel dated, it’s a real classic is every sense of the word (it’s also important to note that he did this before Kubrick used classical music in 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968). Alexander, thank you for being a special part of the soundtrack of my childhood:

‘Star Trek’ theme composer dies at 88

“His most famous work is undoubtedly the “Star Trek” theme, which he composed, arranged and conducted in a week in 1965. “I have to confess to the world that I am not a science fiction fan,” Courage said in an interview for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation’s Archive of American Television in 2000. “Never have been. I think it’s just marvelous malarkey. … So you write some, you hope, marvelous malarkey music that goes with it.”

Courage said the tune, with its ringing fanfare, eerie soprano part and swooping orchestration, was inspired by an arrangement of the song “Beyond the Blue Horizon” he heard as a youngster. “Little did I know when I wrote that first A-flat for the flute that it was going to go down in history, somehow,” Courage said. “It’s a very strange feeling.”

Courage said he also mouthed the “whooshing” sound heard as the starship Enterprise zooms through the opening credits of the TV show.”

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