Monday, April 14, 2014

Music Monday ~ Michael Kamen

I wasn't familiar with the name, but must have been hearing his work regularly over the years without realising it. Michael Kamen, born on 15 April 1948 in New York, died, far too soon, aged 55 in 2003. He was a composer and arranger whose work has graced HM Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee celebrations; Pink Floyd's "The Wall"; dozens of "A" list movies and TV series; rock groups such as Aerosmith, Queen; Dylan, Bowie, Clapton, Pavarotti, ballet.....From an obituary written by Adam Sweeting in The Guardian in 2003: " Even a brief cross-section of his achievements suggests an artist driven by a feverish urge to resist typecasting."

The largely unexplored area between rock and classical music duly became Kamen's stomping ground, and he became a specialist in adding a classical-like sheen and gravitas to projects rooted in rock music. His orchestral arrangements for Pink Floyd's orginal recording of The Wall gave him a formidable calling card, and he subsequently collaborated with the Floyd again on The Final Cut and The Division Bell. When Metallica needed a conductor and arranger for their hook-up with the San Francisco Symphony, Kamen was the obvious choice, and the orchestrated version of their The Call Of Ktulu won him a Grammy in 2001.

With his flair for large-scale musical spectacle, he also found a natural home in the cinema. "He had a phenomenal talent for motion pictures," commented director and producer Richard Donner. "Who do you turn to when you need great music? You turn to Michael Kamen.".................................

Kamen, whose frizzy hair and beard betrayed his underlying hippy-era values - even when he was wearing a dinner suit - cherished an idealistic belief in the beneficial properties of music, as he explained to me in 1995 at a Pavarotti And Friends event in Italy. Though shortly due onstage, he was happy to sit and chat about opera, rock'n'roll, politics and why he enjoyed living in London, where he had had a home since 1982.

"Music has a great capability to heal and a responsibility to heal," he argued. "It's not just to make people rich, and it's not just to make people dance. It's to celebrate our ability to live in peace and harmony."

He put the sentiment into practice by establishing the Mr Holland's Opus Foundation in 1997. It was named after that movie to which he wrote the soundtrack, in which Richard Dreyfuss played a teacher dedicated to inspiring his students with music, and was designed to raise money to supply musical instruments to children.
He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1996, his death was due to heart attack

Freddie Mercury & Michael Kamen


No time of birth is known. The chart below is set for 12 noon, New York City,
15 April 1948. Moon position not exact, ascendant angle would not be not as shown, unless...born at or near noon.

Music was his gift, his craft and his passion - Venus, planet of the arts has to play a leading part in his nativity. Let's see.....Venus was in versatile, eclectic Gemini at the time of his birth and in harmonious trine to Neptune (creativity) in Venus-ruled Libra. Venus was also in helpful sextile to communicative Mercury in enthusiastic, energetic Aries, with his natal Sun. This little lot is almost enough - but a little more is required to reflect his showman side. Mr Kamen wasn't the kind of composer/arranger who sits in his studio quietly beavering away at his compositions. He was often seen conducting with much vigour, he appears to have relished mixing and matching with the era's musical celebrities....Leo? Yes, he had a stellium (cluster of 3 planets) in Leo: Mars, Saturn and Pluto. Not a particularly benign sounding trio, I have to say, but Leo's shining goodwill had to have warmed them some! The Leo trio was in harmonious trine to Mercury and/or Sun in Aries, lending Leo's talent for the spotlight to Mr Kamen's two most personal planets in Aries where they would be welcomed with enthusiasm!

I think Michael Kamen looked very Leo-ish, with that wonderful mane of hair. Perhaps Leo was rising or at mid-heaven as he was born.

There are many videos featuring clips of his movie themes at YouTube, but somehow, without the movies' stories and images, context is missing, so his music is not experienced at its best there. The two videos chosen below represent two very different sides of Michael Kamen's work.


mike said...

Moon and Jupiter are in their signs of rule. The Sun in Aries and Mars in Leo are in mutual reception and are dispositors of the remaining planets (except Moon and Jupiter). Strong dispositors are indications of sharp and intense focus. This combination of planets in the signs of rule, plus two final dispositors in reception is rare in any balance to their personality, goal(s), and success in life. I'm sure he was inspiring and incredibly talented.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Thanks for your additional astro-points. :-)

Hugely talented, yes - and great looking too! :-)