Howard Shore

Active - 1975 - Present  |   Born - Oct 18, 1945 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Thriller, Crime, Comedy Drama

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Biography by Ryan Shriver

In true Hollywood fashion, composer Howard Shore's "overnight" success with his intensely emotional, yet subtly unnerving score for the epic fantasy film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was, in fact, the culmination of a wildly diverse 20-plus-year career. Born in Toronto, Canada, on October 18, 1946, Shore earned his professional degree from the Berklee School of Music in Boston, MA, and shortly thereafter co-founded the Toronto-based rock outfit Lighthouse. This group managed to earn some small amount of success, while providing Shore the opportunity to display his talents as both a performer and a songwriter. His association with Lighthouse was relatively brief, and after he left the band, the young musician began exploring new mediums for his music. Thus, Shore found himself working closely with two fellow Canadians: Lorne Michaels and David Cronenberg. Under Michaels, Shore directed the musical content for the first five seasons of Saturday Night Live, also writing the instantly familiar original theme music. As his association with Saturday Night Live was ending, Shore was hired to compose the score for David Cronenberg's film The Brood. Shore would go on to orchestrate almost all of Cronenberg's following films -- except 1983's The Dead Zone -- while building an impressive and diverse body of work, including scores for such films as Videodrome, Places in the Heart, Dead Ringers, Big, The Silence of the Lambs, Seven, and High Fidelity.

While he received some amount of acclaim for his work after The Brood, Shore would achieve his greatest success with his work on Peter Jackson's highly anticipated adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings. The first episode of the trilogy, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, proved to be a hit with both moviegoers and his musician peers alike, and Shore went on to earn his first Academy Award nomination and -- more importantly -- his first win. Additionally, Shore composed the music for the second and third installments of The Lord of the Rings trilogy -- The Two Towers and The Return of the King -- which, like the filming of the trilogy, were scored concurrently. Following his achievements with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Shore moved on to orchestrate two thrillers -- David Fincher's Panic Room and his tenth collaboration with Cronenberg, the late 2002 release Spider -- and the massive Martin Scorsese historical epic Gangs of New York, further displaying his standing as a preeminent film composer and one of the most hotly sought-after technicians in the industry.

In early 2004, while gearing up for Jackson's remake of King Kong, Shore took home his second and third Oscars, one for score and the other for song, when The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King swept the awards. That massive success slowed him down not at all as he continued to write scores for a wealth of well-reviewed and award-winning films such as The Aviator, The Departed, A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, Doubt, and Hugo. He teamed with Jackson again to create the music for The Hobbit.

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  • Grew up with director David Cronenberg and has scored all of his films since 1979's The Brood except for one, 1983's The Dead Zone.
  • Went to summer camp and high school with Lorne Michaels and was the first musical director for Saturday Night Live.
  • Joined the horn section of the Canadian band Lighthouse in 1969; left the band in 1971 after becoming tired of touring.
  • Wrote the theme song to Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
  • Tours as a conductor, leading local orchestras in a symphonic arrangement of his Lord of the Rings scores.