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Michael Kamen

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Biography

Oscar-nominated composer, conductor, and arranger Michael Kamen was born in New York City in 1948, going on to study oboe at the Juilliard School of Music while concurrently playing in a jug band. He then formed the New York Rock & Roll Ensemble, whose fusion of classical and pop so impressed legendary conductor Leonard Bernstein that he invited the group to appear at one of his Young People's Concerts with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Between 1968 and 1972, the New York Rock & Roll Ensemble also recorded five albums before dissolving; in 1973, the Harkness Ballet commissioned Kamen to score their production Rodin Mis en Vie, followed by a tenure as musical director on David Bowie's Diamond Dogs tour. In 1976, Kamen scored his first feature film, The Next Man, although his Hollywood career truly caught fire during the mid-'80s with his much-acclaimed work on Terry Gilliam's classic Brazil. His commercial breakthrough was 1987's Lethal Weapon, on which he collaborated with Eric Clapton. From there, Kamen worked on the blockbuster Die Hard, subsequently remaining with both film franchises throughout their many respective sequels. In 1991, he earned his first Academy Award nomination for "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You," the Bryan Adams pop smash from the picture Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves; co-written with Adams and Robert John "Mutt" Lange, the song received two Grammys, and its success inspired the trio to reunite in 1993 for "All for Love," sung by Adams, Sting, and Rod Stewart. In 1999, Kamen conducted the orchestra which backed Metallica on their S&M project. The following year saw the premiere of his The New Moon in the Old Moon's Arms, a millennial symphony commissioned by Leonard Slatkin and the National Symphony Orchestra. Only 55 years old, Kamen died suddenly of a heart attack on November 18, 2003. ~ Jason Ankeny
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