Musically, the American composer Basil Poledouris belongs to the John Williams camp of film scorers. Like Williams (and two of his protégés, David Arnold and Mark Mancina), Poledouris made his name by composing the music for elephantine-budgeted Hollywood special-effects extravaganzas and high-gloss Sirkian soapers. The distinction lies in Poledouris' somewhat unique instrumental approach to the material. In the case of fantasy films (on which Poledouris worked many times), he combined traditionally overwrought Williams-esque orchestrations with exhilarating bursts of choral music. This now-familiar trope did much to embellish the genre on an aural level.
Born in Kansas City on August 21, 1945, Pouledoris projected a keen aptitude for music as a youngster, with piano lessons at nine years old and high-school membership in a folk band. He studied music and cinema at USC, then graduated to telemovies in the early '70s, segueing into feature films via repeated collaborations with two university colleagues: director John Milius (Big Wednesday , Conan the Barbarian , Conan the Destroyer , Red Dawn , Farewell to the King ) and director Randal Kleiser (The Blue Lagoon , Summer Lovers ). Additional titles that Poledouris scored include The Hunt for Red October (1990), directed by John McTiernan; Cherry 2000, directed by Steve De Jarnatt; andRobocop 2 (1990), directed by Paul Verhoeven.
Poledouris was doubtless considered one of the industry leaders in fantasy and action film scores, but as time rolled on, he branched out into innumerable genres, including darkly comic satires (Serial Mom , Cecil B. Demented ), more traditional comedies (Celtic Pride , Mickey Blue Eyes ), and family dramas (Lassie , Free Willy 2 ).
Poledouris also remained active on the small screen, authoring the score for the acclaimed TV miniseries Amerika (1987) and Lonesome Dove (1989). In 1996, he was appointed to author a six-minute overture for the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, GA, and in doing so, drew on his extensive studies of Greek philosophy, history, and mythology. The work was performed by a 300-member choir and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.