Alexander Courage
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Alexander Courage
Alexander Courage
Alexander Mair Courage Jr.
Born(1919-12-10)December 10, 1919
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedMay 15, 2008(2008-05-15) (aged 88)
Pacific Palisades, California, U.S.
Arranger, Composer

Alexander Mair "Sandy"[1]Courage Jr. (December 10, 1919 – May 15, 2008) was an American orchestrator, arranger, and composer of music, primarily for television and film. He is best known as the composer of the theme music for the original Star Trek series.

Early life

Courage was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He received a music degree from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, in 1941. He served in the United States Army Air Forces in the western United States during the Second World War. During that period, he also found the time to compose music for the radio. His credits in this medium include the programs Adventures of Sam Spade Detective, Broadway Is My Beat, Hollywood Soundstage, and Romance.


Courage began as an orchestrator and arranger at MGM studios, which included work in such films as the 1951 Show Boat ("Life Upon the Wicked Stage" number) (Hot Rod Rumble (1957 film) The Band Wagon ("I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan"), Gigi (the can-can for the entrance of patrons at Maxim's), and the barn raising dance from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

He frequently served as an orchestrator on films scored by André Previn (My Fair Lady, "The Circus is a Wacky World", and "You're Gonna Hear from Me" production numbers for Inside Daisy Clover), Adolph Deutsch (Funny Face, Some Like It Hot), John Williams (The Poseidon Adventure, Superman, Jurassic Park, and the Academy Award-nominated musical films Fiddler on the Roof and Tom Sawyer), and Jerry Goldsmith (Rudy, Mulan, The Mummy, et al.). He also arranged the Leslie Bricusse score (along with Lionel Newman) for Doctor Dolittle (1967).[2]

Apart from his work as a respected orchestrator, Courage also contributed original dramatic scores to films, including two westerns: Arthur Penn's The Left Handed Gun (1958) and André de Toth's Day of the Outlaw (1959), and the Connie Francis comedy Follow the Boys (1963). He continued writing music for movies throughout the 1980s and 1990s, including the score for Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), which incorporated three new musical themes by John Williams in addition to Courage's adapted and original cues for the film. Courage's score for Superman IV: The Quest for Peace was released on CD in early 2008 by the Film Music Monthly company as part of its boxed set Superman - The Music, while La-La Land Records released a fully expanded restoration of the score on May 8, 2018 as part of Superman's 80th anniversary.

Courage also worked as a composer on such television shows as Daniel Boone, The Brothers Brannagan, Lost in Space, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Judd, for the Defense,[3]Young Dr. Kildare and The Brothers Brannagan[4] were the only television series besides Star Trek for which he composed the main theme.

The composer Jerry Goldsmith and Courage teamed on the long-running television show The Waltons in which Goldsmith composed the theme and Courage the Aaron Copland-influenced incidental music. In 1988 Courage won an Emmy Award for his music direction on the special Julie Andrews: The Sound of Christmas. In the 1990s, Courage succeeded Arthur Morton as Goldsmith's primary orchestrator.[5]

Courage and Goldsmith collaborated again on orchestrations for Goldsmith's score for the 1997 film "The Edge."

Courage frequently collaborated with John Williams during the latter's tenure with the Boston Pops Orchestra.

Star Trek theme

Courage is best known for writing the theme music for Star Trek, and some other music for the series. Courage was hired by Gene Roddenberry to score the original Star Trek television show at Jerry Goldsmith's suggestion, after the latter turned down the job. Courage reportedly became alienated from Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry over the latter's claim for half of the music royalties: Roddenberry wrote words for Courage's Star Trek theme music, not because he expected the lyrics to be sung on television, but so that by claiming credit as the composition's co-writer, Roddenberry could receive half of the royalties from the song.[6]

Notably, after later serving as Goldsmith's orchestrator, when Goldsmith composed the music for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Courage orchestrated Goldsmith's adaptation of Courage's own original Star Trek theme.

Following Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Courage's iconic opening fanfare to the Star Trek theme became one of the franchise's most famous and memorable musical cues. The fanfare has been used in multiple motion pictures and television series, notably Star Trek: The Next Generation and the four feature films based upon that series, three of which were scored by Goldsmith.


Courage had been in declining health for several years before he died on May 15, 2008, at the Sunrise assisted-living facility in Pacific Palisades, California.[7] He had suffered a series of strokes prior to his death.[8] His mausoleum is in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.


  1. ^ "Alexander 'Sandy' Courage, 88; composer wrote 'Star Trek' theme". Los Angeles Times. May 30, 2008.
  3. ^ "Judd for the Defense (TV Series 1967-1969)".
  4. ^ "The Brothers Brannagan (TV Series 1960- )".
  5. ^ "Alexander Courage, Composer of the Original 'Star Trek' Theme, Dies". WCBS Newsradio 880. 2008-05-30. Archived from the original on January 5, 2009. Retrieved .
  6. ^ "Unthemely Behavior". Urban Legends Reference Pages. 1999-03-10. Retrieved .
  7. ^ "Film Music Society".
  8. ^ Bernstein, Adam (May 31, 2008). "Alexander Courage; Composed Theme to TV Show 'Star Trek'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008. Obituary, Washington Post print and online editions, May 31, 2008, page B06

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes