born on 10/12/1919 in Philadelphia, PA, United States
died on 15/5/2008
Alexander "Sandy" Mair 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 series of Star Trek.
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 Broadway Is My Beat, Hollywood Soundstage, and Romance.
Courage began as an orchestrator / arranger at MGM studios, which included work in such films as the 1951 Show Boat ("Life Upon the Wicked Stage" number), 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 "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.).
Apart from his work as a respected orchestrator, Courage also contributed original dramatic scores to films, including two 1950s westerns: Arthur Penn's The Left Handed Gun and André de Toth's Day of the Outlaw. He continued writing music for movies throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, including the score for Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, 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.
Courage also worked as a composer on such television shows as Daniel Boone, The Brothers Brannagan, Lost in Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Judd, for the Defense (this was the only television series besides Star Trek for which he composed the main theme), and Daniel Boone.
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 composer.
Courage frequently collaborated with John Williams during the latter's tenure with the Boston Pops Orchestra.
Star Trek theme
Courage is probably 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 the job down. 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 song, not because he expected the lyrics to be sung on television, but so that by claiming credit as the song's co-writer, Roddenberry could receive half of the royalties from the song.)
Ironically, after later being 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.
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. He had suffered a series of strokes prior to his death. His mausoleum is in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.
- Alexander Courage, Composer of the Original 'Star Trek' Theme, Dies. WCBS Newsradio 880 (2008-05-30). Retrieved on 2008-05-30.
- Unthemely Behavior. Urban Legends Reference Pages (1999-03-10). Retrieved on 2007-05-20.
- Bernstein, Adam, Alexander Courage; Composed Theme to TV Show 'Star Trek', The Washington Post, May 31, 1008. URL accessed on May 31, 2008. Obituary, Washington Post print and online editions, May 31, 2008, page B06
- Alexander Courage at the Internet Movie Database
- Short documentary on the career of Courage, posted to YouTube.com
Alexander Courage article at Memory Alpha, the Star Trek wiki