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Alexander Courage 1919-2008

Country : Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Profession : Composer
Date of birth : 1919-12-10
Date of death : 2008-05-15
Cause of Death : Stroke

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Alexander Mair Courage Jr. (December 10, 1919 – May 15, 2008) was an American orchestrator, arranger, and composer of music, primarily for television and motion pictures.


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 Force 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.

Motion picture work

Courage began as an orchestrator/arranger at MGM studios, which included work in such films as Show Boat ("Life Upon the Wicked Stage" number), The Band Wagon ("I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan") and '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 Andre 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.). Courage succeeded Arthur Morton as primary orchestrator for Goldsmith in the 1990s.

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 Andre 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.

Television work

Courage is probably best known for writing the theme music for Star Trek: The Original Series, and some other music for the series, but he also worked as a composer on such TV shows as The Brothers Brannagan, Lost in Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Judd, for the Defense, and Daniel Boone.

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 TV, but by claiming credit as the song's co-writer, Roddenberry received half of the royalties from the song.)

The composer Jerry Goldsmith and Courage teamed on the long-running TV show The Waltons, in which Goldsmith composed the theme and Courage scored 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.

Other work

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


Courage had been in declining health for several years before he died on 15 May 2008 at the "Sunrise" assisted-living facility in Pacific Palisades, California. He had suffered a series of strokes prior to his death.

He is entombed at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.

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